Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Jimmy Page says Stairway to Heaven Taurus rip-off claim is "ridiculous"

You can read the whole thing at Bloomberg Businessweek, but there isn't much more there than the headline. Jimmy Page was asked about the claim by the Liberation newspaper, and he said, "That's ridiculous."

Meanwhile, the lawyer who was originally said to be about to file the suit is not having a good time on a current case.  According to, Francis Alexander Malofiy is representing Dan Marino against Ussher in a lawsuit concerning the song Bad Girl.

During the trial, however, Judge Diamond spoke against Malofiy in particular; filing a 22-page Sanctions Memorandum against him (which you can read here), saying that the “Defendants have shown clearly and convincingly that Attorney Francis Malofiy has acted disgracefully: lying to an unsophisticated, impoverished, unrepresented Defendant, thus convincing that Defendant to expose himself (probably baselessly) to substantial liability.”
Brian Ives at details more of the choice words the judge used, along with other background on Malofiy.

I keep wanting to spell that word Malfoy. Now Lucius Malfoy, a pureblood wizard, would be a better foe for Jimmy Page, I believe.

I wrote about the supposed "rip-off" here. Hint: No it isn't.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Loneliness of the long distance thinker: My thoughts on the Isla Vista spree killer (and Star Wars)

Trigger warning: I'm going to talk about the latest spree killer.  I'm also going to talk about Star Wars.  Although I didn't intend it to be, some may find this disrespectful to the victims. Some may find it triggering. If you think you might be among them, skip this.

Unlike all the previous ones, the latest spree murder by an ill-socialized little ratbag has fascinated me.

I watched his video and it's quite a piece of work. He sits in his black BMW, carefully positioned in the sun at Golden Hour, so liquid orange light flows across his face. Behind him stately palm trees form a backdrop  In a rehearsed tone, he reels off how much he hates women, and hates the men that have women's love. He punctuates it with a Z-grade Batman cartoon villain muahaha laugh and at times actually strokes his chin. There's something knowing and polished yet thoroughly amateur and lame about it that makes it hilarious, despite the subject matter and the later consequences of his hatred.

But the thing that stands out for me is: He quotes Anakin Skywalker. He says, "You're animals and I'll slaughter you like animals."

The evil murdering villain that comes to his mind when talking about revenge against all the multitude of wrongs he thinks he has suffered is the young, whiny, pre-mask Darth Vader.

Here's the video [3:50].

The killer was a big Star Wars fan – he talks about all three of the prequels in his 'manifesto'.  He loved them. There's something irredeemably banal about this son of a Hollywood assistant director basing his stupefyingly humdrum revenge fantasies on Anakin Skywalker.  Anakin is also a mass murderer of youths, of course. He killed the Younglings, the little Jedi-in-training at the temple.  I was never sure why, except that the plot demanded that all Jedi were to be wiped out before Episode IV: A New Hope. The adults could be taken care of in plausible battles, but how to get rid of the Padawans? Ah, we'll have Anakin kill them five seconds after he's turned to the Dark Side.  As far as we can tell from the film, Darth Sideous didn't order him to do it, he just went nuts and mowed down the kids.

There was a precedent to the murder of the Younglings – and that's where the phrase, "They're like animals and I'll slaughter them like animals" comes up. After learning that the Tusken Raiders have yet again attacked the moisture farmers, killing and maiming them and taking his mother captive, Anakin goes berserk and kills a whole village full of them.

I didn't care that much about the Tusken Raiders. I think we were supposed to take their local name – Sand People – and assume they had sentients' rights, but they were torturing his mother to death at the time, so you know, that's an excuse. [1] Slaughtering the Younglings, though – where did that anger come from?  It's remarkable that we have a better answer to that question from a horrible little dweeb in a BMW than we got from a world-famous and extremely rich film producer.

The killer's 'manifesto' is a similar mix of high aims and ludicrous execution. If you're not easily triggered by the mountains of loserdom, racism and violent misogyny, it is also comical. Here's an excerpt:

"The girl was a pretty blonde! They looked like they  were in the throes of passionate sexual attraction to each other, rubbing their bodies together and tongue kissing in front of everyone. I was absolutely livid with envious hatred. When they left the store I followed them to their car and splashed my coffee all over them. The boy yelled at me and I quickly ran away in fear. I was panicking as I got into my car and drove off, shaking with rage-fueled excitement. I drove all the way to the Vons at the Fairview Plaza and spent three hours in my car trying to contain my tumultuous emotions. I had never struck back at my enemies before, and I felt a small sense of spiteful gratification for doing so. I hated them so much."

It's not possible to write anything more spirited about an interaction and a landscape so vastly mundane. It's the very definition of bathos. He was livid with envious hatred! Oooh! So he splashed them with coffee and drove all the way to the Vons at Fairview Plaza. Ohhhh. (He went on to splash his drink over quite a lot of people who offended him this way. It's a terrible shame that he made progress on making his assaults match the depth of his feelings.)

At times, his lonely nerd ambience is so profound it sounds almost faked, as if the CIA wrote the entire manifesto to deflect attention from the chip they put in his head that activated his false flag murder spree.[2] He adores Star Wars. He liked the Lord of the Rings movies. He plays all the latest videogames.  He plays World of Warcraft online. He loves A Song of Ice and Fire. A Game of Thrones is great. He mostly lives with his mother.

It's 137 pages of absurdity. He's domiciled in the easy living part of Southern California and obsessively details SoCal things that are familiar to me, and quite banal, with an artless earnestness. It's terribly hard to make things like Encino and Calabasas in any way evil, or despotic, or even romantic, or indeed anything but a collection of upscale and downscale malls and associated mallrats.

Then there's his methodology.

He wants to be rich, so he buys a lottery ticket. That doesn't work, so he buys another one.  He eventually uses the power of his mind to win the lottery, buying a book on making things happen by thinking hard, building himself up for the big win that's sure to come. He doesn't win. So he buys another and wills really hard at it and is devastated at not winning.  This continues. He's told that writing an epic, a bestseller, would make him rich, which he researches on the webs and learns it may take some time before he gets rich from his bestseller, so he gives up.  

His strategy for attracting girls is to sit by himself and send out loneliness vibes at passing women, which unfortunately for him, isn't successful.  Time after time, he goes out somewhere and thinks hard at the young women, and they fail to respond.  He's infuriated.

At times, his deadpan self-regard is so similar to that of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4, except he's twenty at the following point, that you can't help but laugh:
"Even though she [his mother] was no longer seeing Jack, she dated other men of high class. She had a special way of charming them. I continued to pester her to get married so that I can be part of an upper class family and enjoy all the benefits that would come with that, but she always refused, claiming that she never wants to get married due to her unpleasant experiences with my father. I told her that she should suffer through any negative aspects of marriage just for my sake, because it would completely save my life, but she still refused."
Did she, pet?

Some of the delivery is pure Adrian Mole comedy, too.
"Her status as a reality T.V. star, coupled with my father’s important association with Gary Ross, enabled us all to attain VIP tickets to the red carpet premiere, including  admittance to walk on the red carpet itself, which was actually a black carpet, in a literal sense."
Huh. A black red carpet. Tell me more.

And then, after details of hundreds of relatively commonplace events, many of which get him angry and cause him to throw his drink, he reveals the sudden splatterpunk ending. He details how he will kill his roommates so he can have privacy in his torture chamber, then he will go out hunting at a sorority for women to kill. We get a passage that once again sets out his weird, long-distance Theory of Mind.

"I will then make my way to Del Playa, splattering as many of my enemies as I can with the SUV, and shooting anyone I don’t splatter. I can only imagine how sweet it will be to ram the SUV into all of those groups of popular young people who I’ve always witnessed walking right in the middle of the road as if they are better than everyone else. When they are writhing in pain, their bodies broken and dying after I splatter them, they will fully realize their crimes."

They will fully realize their crimes? How? He has never communicated to them what their "crimes" were.  If a nutcase in an SUV ran me over, assuming I did have time for a last thought,  it would most likely be, "Ow, this fucking hurts. Why didn't you watch where you were going?"

I can guarantee you it wouldn't be, "Oh that was that guy I failed to ask out five years ago when I saw him sitting alone at the mall. I am such a criminal degenerate that I deserve this." That would be impossible, a violation of causality. I would have to see the video he posted about it before I died, which wouldn't be possible.

He's completely missed a step in his understanding of people.  Which is that, unlike Anakin Skywalker and the other Jedi, people are not telepathically able to feel a great disturbance in the Force.

On the other hand, although he doesn't know it, he could have realized his ambition to write a bestseller. It's all here, and apart from a few copyediting suggestions and some editorial changes to make the action-at-a-distance Jedi Mind Tricks more realistic, I think it would have gone over well. It has a lot of similarities to Carrie, for example. He even recorded a video promo – good marketing skills. Shame he epublished it for free. Could have made him rich.

[1] I'm not going to go into this in more detail here because reasons, but I can elsewhere.

[2]I made this bit up. This is real though.

05/29 Edited to add:  Some of the dialogue he uses in the video also comes from World of Warcraft - a character called Garosh Hellscream's mountains of skulls and rivers of blood. The people picking up on this are WND and Breitbart, not my usual cup of tea.


End note:

I didn't get into it above, but I've found it infuriating that he wrote 137 pages and left ten minutes of video on how much he hated women and wanted to kill them and yet the majority of responses to it I have seen, and I've seen a lot, are "It's not misogyny!" Just SMH. If wanting to kill women isn't misogyny, what does the word mean?

"There is no creature more evil and depraved than the human female. Women are like a plague. They don’t deserve to have any rights. Their wickedness must be contained in order prevent future generations from falling to degeneracy. Women are vicious, evil, barbaric animals, and they need to be treated as such."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Analog clock hints

I tweeted something recently about how I must be getting old. I can read an analogue clock in the usual half-second glance.

My tweet concerned this Gizmodo article. The writer Andrew Liszewski said,

Those of us raised with the English language were taught to read sentences in a straight line. But then when it came time to decipher clocks, we were expected to suddenly be able to read in a circle. It's no wonder we've all switched to digital displays

Today I came across this from Shaunaaaah on Reddit's chat about the most embarrassing things you should be able to do but can't.

I am really bad at telling time on an analog clock, I know how it works and I can get there but I can't just glance at the clock and know the time. Fortunately this very rarely matters.

It's an epidemic!

Here's how. You're not supposed to deduce the numbers (particularly if they're in Roman numerals, because the IIII will throw you every time).  12-hour analog clocks are just a series of pie charts. Everyone can read a pie chart. 

For the little hand, there's two pies - the one that starts at midnight and the one that starts at midday. Most people get up at about 50% of the pie, get to work at about 75% of the pie and then think about lunch (or post to Reddit and Gizmodo) until the pie's finished. After lunch, it starts again and you can go home just before 50% of the afternoon pie. You'll probably aim to go to bed before the whole pie runs out.

For the big hand, each pie is an hour and unless you're timing your heart rate or something, you can just use the 25%, 50% and 75% markers. Generally, you don't need them at all, as you can see from the little hand approximately how far the big hand has gotten through this particular pie.

This works because nobody looks at a watch to see "what time it is". If you don't believe me, ask someone who you've just seen look at a watch what time it is. Chances are they don't know. They just looked to see if they were early, or late, or if all of this crap was over with yet. That's far easier to tell from an analogue clock - "Hmm, little hand is near the bottom. Time to leave work!" than it is from a digital clock - "Hm, it's 4:56. What is a 4:56? Nearly a 5. So half hour plus a bit until I can go home." It takes appreciably longer to figure out.

Here's the incomparable Douglas Adams on the subject, from Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy:

Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. 
This planet has—or rather had—a problem, which was this: most of the people on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
And so the problem remained; lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.

Digital watches were big in the 1970s and I had one - a Casio calculator watch - for years. Hard to read. Then Douglas Adams made me embarrassed. Of course now I don't have a watch at all, and my telephone is currently showing the time in digital format.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pretty Little Demons Unknown Species, with Alison Mosshart (video)

Pretty Little Demons' new waxing, Unknown Species, features Alison Mosshart as what you might call a Lady Scientist.

I hadn't heard of them before this came up in my newsfeed and I have to say I'm impressed.  Apparently rock duo Lydia Night and Marhly Murphy are 13 and 11 respectively, which is young even by LA standards. (Weren't the Runaways 14 when they started?).  It's a great video, that I guess wasn't made by people of average age 12, and I have to say I like the Princess Pretty Little Demon's feet the as best of all the great images here. The song is actually a proper rock and roll length - the video is so long because it has an introduction by the Log Lady.

Speaking as a Lady Scientist myself, Alison Mosshart's microscope arrangement gave me neckache just watching it. Get a proper binocular scope made in the last fifty years or so and an adjustable chair. And do take your glasses off while you work. The microscope has its own lenses, non-scientist people! You don't have to wear glasses to see down one! If she keeps on with this set-up, she'll be in Health & Safety with neck strain filing for worker's compensation within a month. (Though HR will probably file a counterclaim that she did not disclose her coccygeal peculiarity before she was hired.)

Also, someone call Biomedical Engineering to get that buggy UV illuminator fixed. She's trying to do some work here, even if it does appear to involve throwing sugar at preteen demons who live on a microscope slide.

Truth in storytelling, folks.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Led Zeppelin being taken to court over Stairway

I found a handy video showing how Taurus and Stairway to Heaven can sound so similar without it being a rip-off. I guess the uploader got sensitive about the issue a year or so ago, just in time for Spirit's lawsuit. 

First, some background on the case: Rolling Stone  Casey Rae

 And of course, here's Taurus and Stairway. The Stairway-alike part starts at 44 seconds in.


Here is a handy ready made compilation video on why this sounds so familiar to us. This type of descending minor progression is actually called a cliche line! (Others with more musicological bent call it a passamezzo antico.)

[video has been taken down] The compilation video by ThatsSoInane contains the following tracks:

Davey Graham's Cry Me A River introduction - you know this is where Jimmy heard the chord progression the first time, don't you!
A Taste of Honey, by Bobby Scott and Ric Marlow, played by The Beatles
Spirit's Taurus
Summer Rain by Johnny Rivers
Thoughts, from the group Crow
Ice Cream Dreams from the band Cartoone. Jimmy Page is the session guitarist on this album.  Cartoone subsequently toured with Led Zeppelin. So if my understanding is correct Jimmy Page is playing the riff here before he tours with Spirit or has heard Taurus from the sidestage. (Edit: the webs say that JP played Telecaster on this track, so the acoustic may be the band's guitarist, but the point stands that they were in the studio playing this together in October 68, and the tour with Spirit was not until April 69.)
And She's Lonely by The Chocolate Watchband
Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce
Let It Grow by Eric Clapton

Some others people have suggested the following. A few of these are just guitarists remembering their first bit of classical that they had to learn at school, I think, but The Dolly Parton is amazing. If this sort of thing was actionable, I suspect Page's lawyers would have mentioned this one to him.

Dolly Parton's We Used To (introduction)

U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday (introduction after the drums)

Pink Floyd's Is There Anybody Out There? (start at 1:30)

Foo Fighters' The Pretender (introduction)

The guitar solo and general feel in Damnation of Adam Blessing's Strings and Things.

Nick Drake's Day is Done. (This sounds like Davey Graham again.)

Scott Walker (introduction)

The Kinks - Shangri-La

There are probably a thousand more, but once everyone starts suing each other, there won't be another one because they'll all be spending all their time in court.

Things could go badly for Page. Not that I think he stole it. Unfortunately for Stairway, everybody and his brother has heard it ten thousand times, so anything similar sounds like it was stolen from it, or even it was prior, that Stairway was stolen from that song.

As for whether Spirit's lawyers have a chance at redressing a grievance at this late date, yes, the three year statute of limitations is reset every time a record is re-released. However, royalties would not be awarded for the early releases, so Page isn't set to lose the half a billion Stairway is said to have earned. (He's spent it, anyway. According to the interwebs, his net worth is between $125 million and $127 million.) 

Gripes of this age do come up. There was a recent court case in England concerning the organ playing on Whiter Shade of Pale, where laches (the legal argument that someone has waited too long and has lost his rights) played a significant part. After much hard judicial thinking and a trip to the House of Lords, three years of royalties were awarded, as the law lords decided that that the delay in filing had not caused hardship to the original songwriters, but had in fact benefited them, since they'd trousered the money for all those years.  

As usual, the lawyers will be the winners.

Edited 8:33pm
Notes: The Cartoone album was recorded "at the same time" as Led Zeppelin I.  Led Zeppelin I was recorded in October, 68 (Led Zeppelin, A Celebration, Dave Lewis, p. 139). The second American tour with Spirit was April to June 69. (Argentum Astrum.)

05/28/14 Update here

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sue me sir

I just heard Spirit is suing Led Zeppelin for Stairway To Heaven.

Jeez, is there anyone out there who had songs with tonic, dominant and subdominant chords? You could sue Led Zeppelin too. They have lots of money.

Hope this is the last time.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Blog it like you Tumblr it (1)

A couple of days ago I wrote about jotting down ideas as they occur, and one note in particular that, upon awakening the next day, I found I could not understand at all.

I've now decided that this is a positive thing.

As I was reading about the recent meltdown in science fiction circles [1] the subject of a writer's politics influencing (or not) his or her writing kept coming up.  Someone provided a helpful list of writers who were communists and one of the names was the New Weird SF writer China Mieville [2]. I thought, "Is he now? Fascinating. I'll go read his blog."

I did, or at least find and read his blog-like-thing and could not understand a word of it. It was like trying to get into the mind of a tropical stick insect or something.  Couldn't help clicking back pages and pages trying to deduce a theme. Anger at oppression was very clear; most of the rest read like my overnight notes.

It reminded me of M John Harrison, another SF author, who has a similar blog that I frequently fail to understand. Both of them are very well-respected authors that I always feel I should like more than I do. We have a few Mieville books here, and I got three quarters of the way through one, Perdido Street Station, before my reading slowed to a crawl and it eventually found its way back on to the 'finished' shelf and hasn't come back out. (I wrote about Perdido Street Station and how it induced a giggling fit here. I said then I'd get back to it. I haven't.) Somebody must read them, as he sells shedloads of books.

As for Mike Harrison, he's probably the most respected prose stylist in the field. (Apparently he won the genre's prize for being good without actually having made any money at it. I didn't know there was one, but it sounds a very useful concept.) I've only read Lamia Mutable, which was in Again, Dangerous Visions and I think Harlan Ellison's pitch for stories to go in that anthology must have been, "Hey, man, do you got any incomprehensible stories in your drawer? I mean really far out stuff you wrote on acid? Cause I gotta sequel to Dangerous Visions coming out." I've dipped in and out of his books but it always seems like an effort.

M John Harrison's Ambient Hotel here.
China Mieville's Rejectamentalist Manifesto here.

Their blogs though, have short think pieces and are interspersed with photos that either are things they saw on their walk or look like something seen on a walk in 1970, with the All The Filters! filter applied.  A few public domain photos creep in here and there.

This seems to be a thing writers do - even a writer I can understand, like John Scalzi, uses all his own photos. I assume this is to stay very clean on copyright matters, since of course copyright is how they make their living. Jack White (not an SF writer, but still), on the rare occasion he blogs, accompanies it with copyright-free images from Shorpy or Library of Congress. Perhaps he doesn't have a camera. Or doesn't go on walks.

Anyway, I thought, "I can do that!" I can obvs write things that I can't understand the next day - I've got that problem licked. And I can take pictures. And I have Instagram-alike filters for Photoshop. And I go on walks.

Fellow in a Jeep with both a Gadsden Flag and a US flag, both full-size. For some reason the term "doth protest too much" leapt to my lips and I took a photy.  Filter Slightly Mangy Grey 70's Agfa applied. And a hoopy cream border!

So I'm fully equipped to blog like an SF writer.  Next post ahoy!

[1]No, not that meltdown, or that one or that one. Not the first Hugo one, the other Hugo one. I know it's hard to keep with the Many Merry Meltdowns of SF
[2] Mieville did write this, so I suppose he may be

Sunday, May 11, 2014

File organization, how not to do it

I appear to have the same computer file backup structure as xkcd's Randall.

Every now and again, I'll unearth something that was written on a Mac last century and Word staggers around with the back of its hand to its brow until I bring the fainting couch for it. Emails surface detailing my neverending enthusiasm for things I can't begin to remember being interested in. I have Yahoo chat logs from 1998. Getting any sort of logical file hierarchy is difficult because you make the decision the first time, change computers five years later and since all your brain cells have been replaced at least once, plus you've learned a lot and forgotten even more about the world around you, you make a completely different decision on how to archive the next lot. And so forth.

It's not just virtual stuff. Sometimes this overlaps with physical life. My bank sells checks in little flimsy boxes in batches of 180 or something ridiculous, and there are 30 to a book, or pad, of checks.  You put one at a time in your purse and the rest have to be kept handy for when you'll need the next pad, in about a year, at the rate people use checks nowadays.

I always used to keep my stash of checks-to-be-used-later in a CompuServe set-up disks binder[1] which had a handy slip-case for concealing things, because that was the most boring thing in the house and no burglar would look there.

Eventually, even I couldn't kid myself that a CompuServe binder on the bookshelf looked natural and in fact might instead invite inspection, so I moved the checks to a Brilliant Place That No One Would Ever Think Of Looking In, and no it wasn't the toilet cistern. (That would be silly. My toilet cistern is opened up about three times a week because it is a problematic toilet cistern.) That was about ten years ago. I have placed the little thin-cardboard boxes of checks in exactly the same place, as they arrive, for about ten years, and taken a pad out of there numerous times over ten years.

Last Sunday, I ran out of checks in my book and went to look for the bank's little flimsy box. It was not there.  I took everything out of the place to make sure. Twice. I went to a place that looks similar on the surface in case I'd been drunk the last time I got a pad of checks out of the box. Not there either. Took everything out. Still not there.

So, with almost a hundred checks left to go, my check stash was missing. On Monday morning, when I knew I had a check to write, I went through everything again. Still not there, but I had a nagging feeling I'd done something different the last time I placed a pad of checks in my book. Couldn't shake that feeling.

Paid the vendor in cash. Ordered emergency checks after much deliberation on what number to start at. Eventually landed on starting at the usual reorder number, i.e. not reusing any of the missing check numbers so that, on the teeny weeny chance they'd actually been lifted by some sort of weird burglar who had ignored all the easily fenced things, like my phone, I would know as soon as that block of numbers came up.

Paid a fortune for the overnight postage and tracking. Got the little flimsy box of checks from the bank. (The FedEx guy said, "Checks, eh?" as he handed them to me, so it's a good thing these guys are honest, I suppose. All our information passes through the computer hackers on the ordering end and FedEx/UPS on the delivering end.)

Anyway, you've guessed the ending. I opened up the Brilliant Place That No One Would Ever Think Of Looking In to place the new box in there, and of course the unused checks were there too. The nagging feeling I had of doing something different referred to the fact that I'd thrown away the previous flimsy box and just kept the three little pads of checks, the check register and the reorder card loose in the usual place.

Simply not having the box itself threw me off. I'd been looking for the box, not four paper pads and a card. I'd looked and looked and had not seen the checks because I'd only looked for something the size and shape of the bank's box.

My dear mother used to have a saying in situations like this. "It just goes to show something or other."

It just does.

Addendum: I've just checked the new ones against the old ones, and the ones I've been using for three years have the wrong telephone number on them. Not an old number, a completely off-the-wall number I don't recognize. Possibly the bank's customer service number. Still if no one has noticed up until now, I suppose I can use the rest. :-)

[1] Exactly like this one
here. I threw mine away. Didn't even think of selling it on eBay. How enterprising.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Jimmy Page at Berklee

Jimmy Page video interview just prior to the Berklee College of Music commencement address and bestowment of his honorary doctorate tonight, to be seen here at Boston Globe (limited page views per month) and here at Blabbermouth (with a nice picture of him looking like a wizard).

A friend of mine was there and said that he was "so beautiful" which is nice, but I already knew that!

Rough mix of Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love available

Led Zeppelin will be releasing the first three albums in their remastered set on June 6th. I won't rewrite the entire press release, which is here. It sounds awesome.

I'm just popping up to say that an early rough mix of Whole Lotta Love is currently available for streaming, but if like me you don't know what streaming is, you can play it from YouTube. Or click below, same thing.

Warner didn't see fit to release it on YouTube in this country, so some other links to the tune don't work in the US. Uploader Przemek Joniak made this one available here, but Warner will probably take it down. Get it while it's fresh.

It's a good track to listen to to get you in the mood for the remasters. It's just different enough to hold your attention, and while you're caught up in it, you're reminded how much power Robert Plant had in his voice as a young man. It sends chills down your spine. Meanwhile the rest of the band do that thing where they are as heavy as a steamroller and yet as aerobatic as a paper plane. How did they do that?

The picture is Robert Knight's photo of the band landing Honolulu. They are holding the master tapes of Led Zeppelin II in their arms as they get off the plane. Hope Knight doesn't mind me using this small sepia version of his photo. See also: here.

Link to Knight's site: (I'm not embedding it as it auto plays loud music, so beware!)

Edited to add: In Rolling Stone's write up of this release, look at the top photo. Don't know what lens was  used but Page's hands look like an orang utan's. In real life they're the same size as JPJ's, to the left. Long fingers but more or less normal. 

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Advice for aspiring writers

One frequent piece of advice given to neophyte writers is "Keep a piece of paper and a pencil with you at all times - you never know when an idea will strike and believe me, you won't remember it, however much you think you will. Write it down immediately."

A few days ago I was in the car and had a brilliant idea for a funny pun - probably something like "Ha ha! Nerd's Best Soup!" or "Why don't I rewrite Mick Farren's 1975 classic novel The Texts of Festival as actual texts from an actual festival?" Anyway, I couldn't find a pencil and paper and STB rather pointedly (since he'd bought it for me) remarked, "Why do you need paper? You have a miniature supercomputer in your handbag!" And so I do, a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. But I have no idea how to take a note on it. I suppose I could Tweet the idea.

I do have pieces of paper and pencils in the bathroom and in my bedside drawer, though.  Every now and again some writing appears on the pad in the bedroom and the simplest explanation is that I have written it because I have had A Nidea during the night.  One appeared today and I have no memory whatsoever of writing it, and I don't know if it's from a dream or just a great idea I had while falling asleep that needed writing down so it would not be lost to the world.

It says:
"Jerry, I'm dying!"
"Dying? Good! You tried to consume the whole world and the best thing that could happen to you is die!"
Inhuman black beetle eyes made me wonder if a human could climb it.
Leaning out of the first floor window looking at the legs of the women below in their short shorts as they run for the bus ball.
I really don't have a clue what that means, or even whether it's one thought, or two, or three. How wonderful it has been preserved for posterity.

Jack White's Angels of Lazaretto

A friend of mine refers to Jack White's brain as a gyroscope, always spinning at full speed, staying upright even when at a crazy angle.

She's right. Jack White has stuffed his upcoming vinyl album Lazaretto with so many gimmicks that it takes him and Third Man's Second Cheese Ben Blackwell nine minutes of video to explain them all. Locked grooves, double sets of grooves (so there are two ways to start one side of the album, depending on where the needle drops), grooves in the label area (so the indented label plays a (scratchy) tune) and... a hologram.

The explanation of the hologram starts at 6:00 minutes.

What's particularly weird about the hologram is that, unlike every single time any musician anywhere has said "hologram" this actually is one. (The "performing" holograms you see bandied about are actually a Steampunk-age illusion called a Pepper's Ghost.) Created by Tristan Duke, the hologram is made by abrasion, a form that does not require a laser to make visible.

I haven't seen the album yet - nobody has - but I assume it's this Tristan Duke, whose holography is seen in this short video.

Apparently he's done work for the Museum of Jurassic Technology in LA, which is one of my favorite places. I wonder what he did there? He seems to have worked in 3D before - stereo pairs and laser holography are both mentioned, but I don't really remember either of those featuring much at MJT.

The fundamental technique is pretty simple, which isn't something people normally say about holography. You take a simple drawing (like a wire cube), draw dots along each line and fix the drawing to a table. Then you take a pair of dividers, if you have them, or rig up something with a pair of compasses if you haven't, put the point on the first dot and scribe a wide arc onto a piece of Perspex (e.g. a CD case) fixed to the table near the drawing. Then the arc for the second dot, and so forth until you either finish, get bored or your dividers slip. Assuming you do finish, go outside and reflect the sunlight off your CD case and you will see your cube or whatevs leap into rainbow-glittery life.

Here's me doing a blunderbuss.

You can see some of the arcs just under the sunlight bit of the CD case. And no, I'm not going to post a picture or video of the finished hologram because I know a lot of holographers and although I haven't learned a lot about it, one thing I have firmly established is that there isn't the slightest point putting a hologram on the interwebs, because everyone looks at it on their 2D screen and writes to you to tell you that it can't be a hologram because it isn't in 3D.

Yes, that pair of compasses has indeed been modified to hold a seamstress's unpick-a-stitch tool because that's what I had in the house. You could use something less arcane or just make a one-size divider by pushing a nail through one end of a dowel and another at the other end of the dowel, to make two points about four inches apart, one to place on the points and one to scratch the arcs.

Here Duke is explaining the technique in much more detail (23 minutes).

After much in the way of maths and optics, he explains that he can make a "master" hologram, as one does with a record, where instead of scribed scratches he has used a cutting tool to raise a burr that protrudes above the surface. Also like a record, it can be electroplated to fix the burr and make it stable. This is like a negative hologram and (with a printmaker, Richard Nielsen) he can then use a press to make embossed holograms. Not that the Third Man record hologram is printed - it sounds like he drew it by hand on the record master. Or whatever that stage of making a record is called. (Record pressing is much more complicated that you'd think.)

Even if you don't want to listen to 23 minutes of explanation, it's probably worth knowing the fun pub-quiz fact that abrasion holograms were discovered by accident - they can be seen on cars that have been polished with abrasive cloths in a circular motion. Apparently no-one tried to reproduce this deliberately until 1994.  All the holographers had a jolly good laugh, because hand-drawn holograms! Haha! Anyway, apparently Duke has found a way to mass produce them and, unlike most holographers, has found someone to buy one!

And you can be sure that despite the cynicism expressed above, I'll be buying my own copy. This is a record that is seriously dressed up to ensure you not only buy it, you actually take it out of the sleeve and put it on a turntable.

The internet's one weird trick to get me to click

I don't know what I've done to deserve this, but my Salon recommended clicks today were this.

No, I'm not going to transcribe that.

I went over to the Guardian and the recommended reads were these.

I haven't been anywhere particularly weird on the interwebs, and no one else is using my browser. Maybe everything that's being recommended is this penis obsessed?

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Jimmy Page a doctor - again

Jimmy Page will be giving the commencement address to the Berklee students on May 10. I don't know what Berklee is, or what a commencement address is, but the students are lucky duckies.  I'd be there in an instant, and I know a couple of people who will be there too, hoping that the address (and Jimmy's subsequent receipt of a doctorate) will allow them to get near enough for an autograph. 

I would LOVE to get close enough to Jimmy, one of my heroes, to say hi, so best wishes to you two. 

Announcement in full at Blabbermouth.

Friday, May 02, 2014

I no corrida: Why running with the tofu in Pamplona would only make things worse.

I read the comments on the internet - always have. On almost every article. Sometimes when I've finished a particularly interesting set of comments, I look for the comments button to read the comments on the comments, and of course there isn't such a thing.

Although there may be, now I've put the idea out there, hey, interwebz?

One tiny subset of the commentariat concerns itself with animal welfare.  Not the Peta types; there's another set out there that wring their hands over the sad consequences that would entail if we stopped eating animals, namely, fewer animals. OMG!

The names have been removed or changed but the quotes are verbatim.

I've run with the bulls in Pamplona and I've been to bullfights in Madrid... and I enjoyed both of them. The Bull Run is the single biggest adrenaline rush of my life and I make no excuses for loving the fiesta de San Fermin. These bulls wouldn't exist if it weren't for the bullfights so it's not like they would be grazing in Elysian fields on lush grass and daisies.         

"These Bulls wouldn't exist if it weren't for the bullfights"., that's a good thing. I'm no vegan (I'm a butcher's daughter and I do like meat), but the vegan I lived with put it very well. The animals that only exist because we eat them, use their products or use them for bloodsports...are animals we shouldn't breed. She said "we don't want fields of happy cows and chickens, let their numbers dwindle or die out or settle as they would have done before we appropriated them for our own use". Admittedly, she never provided a solution to what to do with the current generation of animals that would not be slaughtered, or what farmers would do, but her point stands if you want to hear it. We shouldn't have done what we did to animals on the scale that we did it!

Hemingway did not celebrate death [...] However, la Corrida is not about cruelty to bulls, but about the brave and artistic dance which must, inevitably, lead to the act of slaughter.The afionados take no pleasure, whatsoever, from the pain of the bull or the toreros - and be assured that toreros, and particularly matadors, get killed and maimed every year so no-one treats this fiesta spectacle lightly.
The alternative is that none of these bulls are bred and the fighting breeds are exinct within one generation for without La Corrida, not a single one has a purpose as they are totally unsuitable to breed as food alone. And that's the reason domestic cattle exists at all - because we eat them and use their skins, as we have for thousands of years.

I don't like bullfighting either, but there's a certain amount of hypocrisy here. This particular breed of bulls exists solely for this purpose. They require extensive facilities and a much nicer treatment than those poor beasts that suffer their whole existence locked in factory farms stuffed with antibiotics and diazepam. Ban bullfighting and you annihilate them all... Just like that.

I agree completely, for one reason, which was buried among all the others: animal torture.  Forget the environment, your health, everything else, that reason alone is more than enough to be vegetarian forever.
@Ramshackle Of course, many animals would never have existed, at least in their current form, if not for human consumption, so then you get into animal existentialism or something like it. Is it better to live briefly and end badly or never to live at all? Obviously for some human-consumed animals, the latter is the likely answer, but not for all.

So, is animal existentialism a thing? Does 'katy' think that a herd of heavenly cow-souls wait to be incarnated and can be heard to moo to each other in some ghostly fashion, "Oh bull, beef consumption's down again. I'm never going to be born!" Do people really worry that, while one veal calf in its crate is happy because it got to live, another calf that was never conceived is sitting somewhere as grumpy as fuck because it never lived at all? If a breed of bull goes "extinct" because we've stopped stabbing them with spears and then killing them with a sword, are the remaining unused bull-souls pissed about how they'll never get to die a romantic death? 
There are lots of people on the internets I can sort into groups and understand how they got to the positions they did. Right wingers, ok, see how it happens. Gay marriage, check, I know that's a thing. Socialists, yes, met those. Christian Identity, Sovereign citizens, evolution deniers, those people who think the government can solve nothing and those people who think the government can solve everything, met all of those. Aliens in Area 51? Yep, been there. Moms, had one of my own once. Atheists, understand that. MRAs, well, I know they're out there. And so forth. 
But I've never met an animal existentialist. Even if that's what existentialism meant. (I'm pretty sure you have to exist first, not just in potential, before you start the process of existentialism.) I can't fathom any other position than if you've never existed, you don't know you've never existed and can't possibly have an opinion on your future existence or lack thereof. But apparently there are people who think differently. 


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