Saturday

fumito u

this is my new single, first solo release since on benefit. stick it on all your summer playlists...

<a href="http://totheboats.bandcamp.com/album/fumito-you">fumito you (electric) by To The Boats</a>

now with added remix!

Sunday

this is what twitter actually looks like

{ "users": {}, "#pagination":"more", "#timeline":"
    \n
  1. \n \n \n @mattleys thanks, man! yes, he was very funny!\n \n \n \n about 9 hours ago\n via Echofon\n \n in reply to mattleys\n\n\n \n
  2. \n
  3. \n \n \n @mattleys think it went very well!\n \n \n \n about 9 hours ago\n via web\n \n in reply to mattleys\n\n\n \n
  4. \n
  5. \n \n \n Hopefully! We've just done a pilot for his new series RT: @shongum07829: Is Count Arthur Strong going to be on our tv screens ??\n \n \n \n about 9 hours ago\n via Echofon\n \n \n\n\n \n
  6. \n
  7. \n \n \n @carrieob dunno! Sorry\n \n \n \n about 11 hours ago\n via Osfoora HD\n \n in reply to carrieob\n\n\n \n
  8. \n
  9. \n \n \n @_NSL thanks for those! I dimly remember Merlin too...\n \n \n \n about 11 hours ago\n via Osfoora HD\n \n in reply to _NSL\n\n\n \n
  10. \n
  11. \n \n \n RT @davidwearing: Israel forced to confront an international boycott gathering momentum http://bit.ly/ccRfWV\n \n \n \n about 11 hours ago\n viaOsfoora HD\n \n \n\n\n \n
  12. \n
  13. \n \n \n @neillockwood thank you!\n \n \n \n about 11 hours ago\n via Osfoora HD\n \n in reply to neillockwood\n\n\n \n
  14. \n
  15. \n \n \n @kirstenin @divinecomedyhq hurray! It's the gift that keeps on giving!\n \n \n \n about 18 hours ago\n via Twitter for iPhone\n \n in reply to kirstenin\n\n\n \n
  16. \n
  17. \n \n \n @threefromleith my favourite one!\n \n \n \n about 19 hours ago\n via Twitter for iPhone\n \n in reply to threefromleith\n\n\n \n
  18. \n
  19. \n \n \n @shotbykim I played that myself on an iPad app!\n \n \n \n about 22 hours ago\n via Twitter for iPhone\n \n in reply to shotbykim\n\n\n \n
  20. \n
  21. \n \n \n @claire_murray92 I actually had a no profanity rule for this series. Sorry!\n \n \n \n about 22 hours ago\n via Twitter for iPhone\n \n in reply to claire_murray92\n\n\n \n
  22. \n
  23. \n \n \n @akamrlazy that line came out of total desperation\n \n \n \n about 24 hours ago\n via Twitter for iPhone\n \n in reply to akamrlazy\n\n\n \n
  24. \n
  25. \n \n \n @boosegoose they grow on me\n \n \n \n about 24 hours ago\n via Twitter for iPhone\n \n in reply to boosegoose\n\n\n \n
  26. \n
  27. \n \n \n New York Review of Books is on Twitter! @nybooks\n \n \n \n 8:44 PM Jul 10th\n via Twitter for iPhone\n \n in reply to nybooks\n\n\n \n
  28. \n
  29. \n \n \n @ChicaLolita hurray!\n \n \n \n 7:48 PM Jul 10th\n via Twitter for iPhone\n \n in reply to ChicaLolita\n\n\n \n
  30. \n
  31. \n \n \n @chrislindores it's Serafinowicz!\n \n \n \n 4:41 PM Jul 10th\n via Twitter for iPhone\n \n in reply to chrislindores\n\n\n \n
  32. \n
  33. \n \n \n RT @ebertchicago: Final report: There was no Climategate. The global warming scientists were correct. http://j.mp/achTHH\n \n \n \n 4:30 PM Jul 10th\n via Twitter for iPhone\n \n \n\n\n \n
  34. \n
  35. \n \n \n @Fezzy_Bear thank you!\n \n \n \n 4:06 PM Jul 10th\n via Twitter for iPhone\n \n in reply to Fezzy_Bear\n\n\n \n
  36. \n
  37. \n \n \n @Bleekster like both bands, but Richard is the real Pivot fan\n \n \n \n 4:05 PM Jul 10th\n via Twitter for iPhone\n \n in reply to Bleekster\n\n\n \n
  38. \n
  39. \n \n \n @realdannys very kind of you to say, thank you\n \n \n \n 3:37 PM Jul 10th\n via Twitter for iPhone\n \n in reply to realdannys\n\n\n \n
  40. \n
\n" }

Saturday

it crows

i love it crowd, so it's a bit of a disappointment to realise we're already halfway through this series. friday's it crowd wasn't as fun, and neither was the second one actually, as the first one - where d&d is the solution to everybody's problems.

it crowd, for me, is a sitcom for people who love sitcoms; while it's so important to have it filmed with an audience, it's also important to have the three protags acting like people who've watched lots of sitcoms, and do what we think we would do in their situation. there's a 'knowing' element to it crowd - so many of the jokes are so ludicrously set-up that they gain another level of humour, yet still work on the base level. consider the friendface episode; when faced with a situation where the lies are becoming insurmountable, rather then screwing up their faces and going 'god, this is madness! how did we get into this awful situation?', the protags play along with it, make the lies even bigger, and eventually escape.

writer and director graham linehan was tweetering about rapid last-minute script re-writes - his 'apollo 13' moment. it's pretty obvious to me where it's going wrong - the lack of cohesiveness in the plots.

the best it crowd episodes have a perfect structure where each protag gets their own plotline out of a single concept and it ends in one scene where the storylines converge. 1 intervention (in the above example, social networking) - 1 plot line for each character - big denoument at the end where all the plotlines are reconciled and everyone agrees not to do intervention x anymore. nice, tidy, sitcom writing. problems that seem awkward slot in naturally and cancel each other out - 'we fit together like two halves of a badly cut bagel'. proper seinfeld/larry david stuff, and i know glinner would take that as the high compliment i intend it as.so what's happening this series?

in episode 1, the intervention is: twenty sided dice. jen has a new job entertaining clients, roy is heartbroken, and moss is eager to get people into roleplaying. three separate storylines, that all merge and in doing so everybody's problems are solved. jen's clients end up loving d&d, and moss roleplays roy's ex, and helps him work through his despair.

episode 2 had a great premise - moss gets involved with an illicit countdown winners' club. his story was brilliant, but roy's and jen's felt like weaker, filler stories, that didn't tie into each other at all, except that they were sometimes in the same room as each other. they both felt painfully short.

friday's seemed to go wrong again because of the same reason - the plots hardly crossed over at all, and it's good to read that they were totally meant to, even though that plot was junked. originally, so i read, roy becomes sweet billy pilgrim's manager, jen dates the keyboard player, but moss has to take over managing when roy is kissed on the bum by his masseuse and trips out on downers (and thus i imagine moss sacks the keyboard player, leaving jen to realise she only liked him because he was in a band). whatever was wrong with this (too much setting up, allegedly), it was obviously worse than what we ended up with, but the it crowd is at its best when everything ties together.

i'm not saying things need to be formulaic - well, i'm saying they're better when they are. part of the appeal of it crowd is how pure a sitcom it is, and linehan knows how to put together a good traditional sitcom. i just hope he doesn't continue to forget the golden rules.

Friday

thoughts on interactive art

so it's half 11, i went to bed, and then thoughts happened and i couldn't sleep so i'm going to bash this out, see if it makes sense linearly, and then maybe try to rearrange some paragraphs and de-obfuscate anything that's too... obfuscated.

so all art is interactive. yes? any artwork is interpreted by the viewer automatically and they form thoughts on it. two people can experience the same piece and 'see' entirely different works based on their own culture, personality, experiences, whatever. what the intention was is important, and perhaps the only working definition of the quality of a piece of art is that the artists' inention is communicated to the audience. we don't need any more essays on interactive, artist-audience collaborations, accompanied by mediocre illustrative artworks, like a jigsaw puzzle where the audience can rearrange the artwork as they see fit, to drive the point home. that's fine if that's what you want to do, but making an artwork that 'explores' the relationship between the artist and the audience is liking making an artwork that eplores the relationship between a canvas and some paint, i.e. it's so bloody obvious that it doesn't need saying anymore, ok?

while we are on subject of 'good' art, a definition of art i like to play with is 'knowing when to break the rules'. craft, on the other hand, is easily appraised - a good table is one that doesn't tip your dinner onto your lap. anything beyond this - a table with an inscription, a painting, or even a table that deliberately spills your dinner into your lap, is art.

contrast this:

with this:
and i think you'll see what i mean.

so. as i said, all art is interactive, in that you have to interact with it to do anything with it.

so what's different about computer games, since being interactive is nothing new to art? they are different and i think what occurred to me as i lay me down to rest just now is i can think of one other medium of art that is interactive in a similar way: sheet music.

for years, sheet music was the dominant form of transmission for music before recordings became widely available. you could see live, community music just about anywhere, but most places had some form of instrument and scenes like this were commonplace:

(admittedly, it's less likely to have been a baby grand in a newyork penthouse)

sheet music isn't like a recording of music, that you put on and it plays through and entertains you, or helps you dodge the void for another half hour or so. sheet music doesn't do anything on it's own. you need to pick it up and play with it for it to come to life. it tells you what to do - it tells you how to use your hardware in a unique way to experience a particular work of art (or maybe the sheet music is the art itself? like a said above, if the sheet music is a good work of art, you should be able to experience the music as intended. now, whether that is a good work of art is another matter). if you want to practise the piece to get good at it, make mistakes at it, improvise on the piece, skip a bit out, do one bit over and over again because you like it - you're free to do that. and you have the same freedom with computer games.

linear games, like rail-shooter operation wolf or click-fest monkey island, have a set number of things that need to be done in a set order for them to be done 'right'. sandbox games give you the freedom to improvise - the much-discussed deus ex (10 years old this month), meaning you can play it your way if you want to. games tell you how to play the game right, but then give you the freedom to mess around if that's what you want to do. the freedom to express yourself. no one would claim that a dixie-land jazz musician, improvising on 'when the saints go marching in' is not expressing himself, just because s/he started with a set tune. so why not with computer games?

so the game itself is like the sheet music, and the console is like the instrument. of course, it is much, much harder to separate the game from the console, as one simply does not work without the other. but there is a strong analogy here.

where the analogy breaks down is that computer games not only let you play your own way; they respond to you, artificially intelligently. the game that made this notion jump out at me was street fighter 2; the game gives you opponents that try to avoid your attacks. it becomes recursive and reflective. this is in someways merely a simulation of a multi-player match, like this one (shit gets real 4 mins in):

or competitive dancing:


but in other ways, it represents an entirely new direction and innovation. not just a static puzzle like the towers of hanoi, or solitaire; not just the rules for a randomised card game you can play yourself, something that takes what you're doing, and feeds it back to you. or at least, appears to, or has the potential to. think i'm loosing the thread here.

and what i love about computer games is that dying (when you can die) is just as valid an ending as completing the game - no game illustrates this more perfectly than planescape: torment, for reasons that it is famous for. this game also illustrates the other potential perfection of computer games, which is the overlap they have with interactive fiction; multiple potential storylines, all perfectly justifiable, just like the potential interpretations of a tune. of course, the rare times we have been offered environments with truly emergent gameplay are much closer to musical freedom, but we're only just starting out here. the question is whether games will continue to give us that opportunity.

however, my worry with games is that while the call of dutys and the halos of this world fulfil the role of action-packed-blockbuster films, we get works of subtle quality too; the game equivalent of 'tilsammens', that gives you the depth and charm of a film like that. or maybe some works of art are suited to different media?

i think that's a train of thought for another night. and so is 'computer games are more like tv shows than films, and should be structured accordingly'.
so yes, in conclusion or something, i reckon computer games are more like sheet music than traditional works of 'linear' art. do i need a conclusion?

7 - heartwyrm

it's mixtape 7!*
download heartworm.mp3

or stream it here:



Grilly - Help The Disabled 1
Euros Childs - Like This Then Try This 2
The Bobby Mcgees - A Masonic Youth 3
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Circumstances 4
The Prophecy - Adrift 5
Naked City - Reanimator 6
Amon Tobin - Reanimator 7
Mothboy - Beg 8
The Soundbyte - Til Ungdommen 9
Mclusky - The World Loves Us And Is Our Bitch 10
Sparks With Eskimos And Egypt - Angst In My Pants 11
Carcass - Heartwork 12
The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble - Embers 13
Euros Childs - Harp I A Ii Ar #2 14
Iw Rawes - Please Help The Disabled 15

nb, both the kilimanjiro darkjazz and the mothboy track come from the same ad noiseam compilation (also, they came out in mono, like all the genghis tron remixes, because *audacity doesn't understand joint-stereo mp3s*. neither do i, but then i'm not a computer program whose sole role in life is to facilitate digital audio).

i love it when different bands use thet same track name - i might start making that a 'feature' of these mixes. i'm not going to go down the '12 songs called love' route though, because i don't want any constraints on what i'm putting down in these.

sparks and mclusky are endlessly entertaining, i'll try not to throw too many of them into these mixes. they could be in danger of becoming default punctuation marks.
i previously mentioned adrift a few posts ago, thought i'd include it here because i'd managed to listen to it enough to calm my outrage at it's amazingness.

*6 is a magic number and not available for use of mixtaping, due to being the title of the second-best album of the 90s.

Wednesday

anvil

just a quickie:

watching 'anvil: the story of anvil'
laughed so hard i nearly choked on my pappardale
it took so long - it took for my mum to recommend it - for me to watch this. why?

Tuesday

i'm quoting tolkien here

"here, we have the same mechanism again resorted to - and i think deplorably: for the mere repitition is distasteful, these drinks of grimhild are too powerful or too powerless: why not give one to atli too, and make him forget about the hoard!"

commentry on lines 17-28 of the lay of gudrun, in the legend of sigurd and gudrun.

jrr tolkien writing in the "if you could do that all along why didn't you just -" mode, about the over-powered forgetfulness potion that grimhild used to make sigurd forget about brynhilde (so that he'd marry gudrun), and to make gudrun forget about sigurd after he'd died (so that she'd marry atli [aka Atilla the Hun, who apparently existed contemporaneously with fafnir, loki, odin, &c]). thus he justifies removing the second use of the forget spell in his adaptation of the lay, replacing it with gudrun entering the marriage willingly but unhappily.

I love that he's complaining about this, the same issue that still riles the nerd community today. but as i've written before, tolkien's heroes get around having overpowered abilities by having powers that are poorly defined, and hardly ever used. he even uses a similar 'forgetting' spell cast by the dragon glaurung, that caused a similarly tragic marriage. is he being hypocritical, or is he just trying to write in the style of his heroes?

there are of course two responses to tolkien's rhetorical question: firstly, to counter it, it's a cursed hoard, and andvari's magic probably outranks grimhild's witchcraft. the second is *some other reason why, you can always just invent one in fantasy*.

Thursday

splendid aftereffects

so, the doctor who finale."Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a completely ad-hoc plot device"
—David Langford, "A Gadget Too Far", as a corollary to Arthur C. Clarke's third law


in order to start this post off, i googled 'only fools and horses rodney centurion' and found a picture of 'rory' from the ending couplet; fortunately, they're different, so well done bbc costumes dept.

as i was saying, i find it hard to emotionally connect with a series that simply makes no sense. having a two part episode brings in another problem; how do you try to predict what's going to happen next episode?

take for example, an agatha christie story. poirot might be investigating something, and something doesn't quite add up, and you think "hmm, maybe there's something to that not making sense." it piques your interest, it stimulates your imagination.

but what about when nothing at all makes sense? take for example, all the hints dropped by the doctor that amy's house was too big. this turned out to be because amy's parents had been erased from history by the crack in space - so why was amy still there? surely this is paradox number 1 in time travel stories. but it's not where i wanted to go with this.

someone went to amy's childhood home, and copied her memories and used them to lure the doctor to the pandorica. but pandora's box was a memory from her childhood too - but they'd only arranged to lure the doctor there, because that's when the pandorica opened... or the paradoxica as it might as well be called. the 'not making sense' here isn't a sci-fi fudge, it's a properly careless script that makes no sense at all. it must have been made up as it went along, because you can't start writing a story like this with the end in sight and have it make such little sense. it's entirely wrapped up in it's own bollocks.

still fun though, and i love the asynchronous doctor song character - that's a really good attempt at portraying the chaos that two people skipping in and out of time and each others' lives at different points would experience. i've not read the time traveller's wife but i imagine it's along the same lines.

so there's something else in 'the pandorica opens' i want to relate - 'the perfect disguise, they actually believe their own cover story'.

this is an idea from the 1953 pk dick short story 'imposter', which was also borrowed for terminator salvation (spoilers ahead!). as a trope, distinct from ridiculously human robots, the 'unconscious infiltrator' was probably best used in grant morrison's the invisibles and the filth, where cover personalities are water tight are layers deep. like in the who's tommy, there the revelation of one's true character coincides with enlightenment; in imposter, the main character is hunting down, believed by the authorities to be a walking bomb. the protag is convinced he is not, and just wants to go home. brilliantly, realising he is in fact a robot - finding his original's body - is the very trigger that blows him up. (end spoilers)

so this trope has taken 57 years to wind its way from astounding magazine to prime time, saturday night, bbc1. this is the world we're living in; i don't think pk dick won the ideas war, but it's quite nice that fairly lame versions of his stories are commonplace, 50 years later.