In case of emergence: Good news, Bad news

ICOE is now available on CD.

In case of emergence by grillygrillbo
In case of emergence, a photo by grillygrillbo on Flickr.

I've still got ludicrously self-indulgent 'making of' blog posts coming, or maybe i'll just save them for the pub, monologuing to your bored face about what it all means and how hard it was to make. But before I do that, there's an important annoucement:

I printed off 50 copies of this myself, assembled them, did the cover with laurence and ed. There are now 25 left, 10 of which are already allocated for people I know about (i.e. friends, family, and me).

That leaves 15 for people to ask me for.

I don't know how I gave away 25 already. I know some of the first half of the batch went to people leaving school as a going away/stay in touch thing. I could in theory burn off more, but I'm loathe to go through the process again. I'm not gigging at the moment so there doesn't seem much point in getting 250 or so printed to lie around the flat forever.

If you want a real, official copy of the album that looks lovely, ask me for one now.


Grave of the Minidiscs

NB, I'll be using 'walkman' (no capital) here as a generic term for a pocket sized personal stereo such as ipod, jukebox, and mp3 as a generic name for digital audio file such as wma, flac, &c.

The crux of this, is the upgrade has reduced functionality, as it sometimes does. I'm not happy about it.

Mp3s have lost something compared to minidiscs. And I suppose I'm thinking of this as an archive format. MDs were the high point for me, I think. MDs were fluid in a way that virtual (in the as opposed to tangible) media aren't.

The advantages of MDs were numerous; encased in a cartridge, they were sturdy and kept the data away from grubby fingers, a move abandoned for god knows why when DVDs came out, which were very expensive and needlessly fragile. They were better than tapes because they were better quality. They were better than CDs because they were smaller, and instantly writable. And as I look back back, they're better than mp3s because they're instantly editable.

It seems like you've got a lot of control over mp3s, and in certain areas you have; shove them on the Internet, move them around your computer, edit their metadata, stock your entire music collection on your walkman, all great. But I'm someone who records audio from a variety of sources, not just CDs. I rip vinyl and listen to it on the move, because it sounds better. I record broadcasts and concerts. Do you know how hard this is with mp3s?

The one button that makes MDs better than mp3s is 'track mark'. Recording audio into a computer is easy enough, it's what you do with it then, the software, that's the trouble. I can't just take an mp3 of a performance, and just split it up into its constituent parts; I have I cut and paste it into several windows of audacity or whatever, then render each one to a separate file, then edit the metadata of each one. On MDs it was as simple as pressing 'track mark'. Even without a keyboard, md players seemed so much more user friendly, even before you take into account what they crammed into a device the size of a phone; line in and out, mic in, headphone out, optical in and out. Whatever you were recording or editing was a cinch. Give me a solid state mp3 player/recorder with the same controls and connectivity, plus a USB out (instead of eject, I suppose), and I'd be a happy nerd.


More on critics

So, I'm reading a bit of frank, I mean, mark kermode's new book. The opening is fairly disastrous rambling about how we enjoyed cinema more when there was a risk of burning to death, frustrating laptops, and his hatred of Brando; there's a lot of petty score settling. So I skipped a chapter to his more coherent writings about he lack of possibility of a film failing, if it had a big enough budget (and a star and explosions).

And we all think, aha mark, doesn't John Carter prove your theory wrong? That's the biggest disaster in film history? And he of course can reply, no, he put that caveat about not having a big name draw attached, so the theory holds.

Except, it doesn't have to. Despite the huge news stories that bounced around the mainstream news for days after its opening week, carter in fact made its money back. It says so on the wiki; currently at cost $250M, took $280M. Not much of a profit, but definitely not a loss.

Where was the retraction? When did the media come crawling back to tell us that story they'd sold us was a lie based on insufficient data? A prejudice? That they'd ignored international box offices - apparently, it was a big hit in the former communist CIS, making you wonder about those theories about the 50s 'red menace' - which is exactly the sort of argument dr K makes for a big film never losing money. Rather than being dismissed by Carter, he's been entirely vindicated.

And while the success or failure of a film is trivial, I'm sick of the media over-hyping controversy and then ignoring the more sensible follow up. Exactly like the mmr-autism swindle, and every other case of sensationalistic reporting ignoring the facts for a narrative.


A critic's job

Surely, then, a critic's job is to explain to both the new generation of consumers and the older generation how the current generation of media fits into the established canon, building a bridge between the two, so that the young appreciate cultural history and the old don't get stuck in a rut?