15 Albums

Aug. 31st, 2010 10:58 pm
nmg: (Default)

From [livejournal.com profile] gnommi, on Facebook:

The rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen albums you've heard that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what albums my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your fifteen picks, and tag people in the note-- upper righthand side.) AMENDMENT TO THE RULES - DON'T SELF CENSOR, BE HONEST - WRITE ONE SENTENCE TO EXPLAIN WHY IT'S IN THERE - LOOK BACK OVER YOUR WHOLE LIFE TO KEY INSPIRATIONS (in no particular order..):

1. Blowzabella - A Richer Dust
I'm a bit of a folky at heart, and I think that I picked this up second hand at a record stall when I was an undergraduate. Blowzabella have a sound that could best be described as 'challenging', if you dislike hurdy-gurdies and bagpipes. Fortunately, I like them.

2. Les Troubadours Du Roi Baudouin - Missa Luba
I have Simon to thank for introducing me to this, via the Lindsay Anderson film if.... I then waited for the best part of twenty years for it to be released on CD (even to the extent of buying scratchy second-hand vinyl and getting Steve Harris to rip it).

3. The Pentangle - Basket of Light
Another schoolboy introduction, I have Jon Baldwin to thank for giving me a C90 that he'd taped from his parents' LP. Jazz-influenced British folk rock.

4. The Grateful Dead - Aoxomoxoa
I got into the Dead in a big way when in sixth form and an undergraduate. I prefer their earlier stuff - fresher, more vital - and this is no exception. For me, the high points are Mountains of the Moon and live favourite St. Stephen (although I prefer the recording of the latter on Live/Dead)

5. Various - London is the Place for Me
I've acquired many of my favourite albums by chance; this was picked up in the stock clearance at the Andy's Records in Boston (2003ish? whenever the company folded). This is a collection of Trinidadian calypsos from London in the early 1950s that record the experiences of West Indian immigrants in Age of Austerity Britain (two of the musicians - Lord Beginner and Lord Kitchener - arrived at Tilbury on the Empire Windrush in 1948). Touching and acidic by turns.

6. Various - A Treasury of Library of Congress Field Recordings
This was a recommendation by Phin Head, back when he worked in Southampton (2002ish?). A collection of American folk recordings from the 1930s and 1940s, mostly collected by Alan and John Lomax - think of the soundtrack to Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, but authentic and better.

7. Outback - Baka
Heard by chance busking in Covent Garden in 1990 or thereabouts. Mandolin and didgeridoo two-piece.

8. Carter USM - 101 Damnations
Matt Gibson was responsible for this in my first year as an undergrad. I'd heard Sheriff Fatman (who hadn't), but he raved about Midnight on the Murder Mile so much that I (eventually) bought the album.

9. Moby Grape - Moby Grape
Cheery, late 60s San Francisco band. If they'd had the luck that the Dead had, you'd probably have heard of them. I listened to this a great deal as an undergrad.

10. Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick Blues
Obligatory appearance by His Bobness, included mainly on the strength of Love Minus Zero (which I once, while in a sleep-deprived and hungover stupor, accused Dave Warry of snoring in tune to). Again, I listened to this a lot as an undergrad.

11. The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat
The second Velvets studio album - still with John Cale, but significantly harsher than VU and Nico. Plus, it has Sister Ray. I got into the Velvets while I was in Edinburgh,

12. Philip Glass/Kronos Quartet - Dracula
Glass's re-scoring of the 1931 film with Bela Lugosi. Really, really rather good. I'm not a goth, btw.

13. Pulp - We Love Life
Somewhat of a return to form for Pulp after the bleakness of This is Hardcore. I've never understood why Bob Lind and The Night That Minnie Timperley Died didn't get singles releases - I think that they're the strongest tracks on the album. I always associate this album with Issy's time as an SRT in Bath.

14. Ludwig Van Beethoven - Symphony No.9
But which recording? I'm torn between the Furtwängler recording from the 1951 Bayreuth Festival, and von Karajan's 1962 recording with the Berliner Philharmoniker. And it's the 9th - what's not to like?

15. Ozric Tentacles - Strangeitude
Emmeline introduced me to the Ozrics in 1992, and I still have a well-worn C90 of Pungent Effulgent with a track listing written in her fair hand. Their inclusion on this list probably means that I'm some kind of crusty hippy, but you'd probably worked that out yourselves.

Tagging: [livejournal.com profile] andrewducker, [livejournal.com profile] atommickbrane, [livejournal.com profile] burkesworks, [livejournal.com profile] drdoug, [livejournal.com profile] hsw, [livejournal.com profile] ladymoonray, [livejournal.com profile] makyo, [livejournal.com profile] marypcb, [livejournal.com profile] mr_tom, [livejournal.com profile] purplestuart, [livejournal.com profile] ruthj, [livejournal.com profile] sbisson, [livejournal.com profile] steer, [livejournal.com profile] titanic_days, [livejournal.com profile] zotz

nmg: (Default)

Doing the rounds in abbreviated form from various people. I've decided to mutate the meme, because 1980 feels like a very artificial start date for film-watching. The full list is taken from here; for each year, the first film listed won the Oscar. Titles in bold are ones that I've seen.

1920s ) 1930s ) 1940s ) 1950s ) 1960s ) 1970s ) 1980s ) 1990s ) 2000s )
nmg: (Default)

It's doing the rounds, and I'm a sucker for memes like this:

"The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed. Well let's see."

  1. Look at the list and bold those you have read.
  2. Italicise those you intend to read.
  3. Underline the books you LOVE.
  4. Reprint this list in your own LJ so we can try and track down these people who've read 6 and force books upon them ;-)

Quite a few read - more than I would have thought at first, but some glaring gaps which I've been meaning to fill for years (my inability to read any Dickens bar the Mudfog Papers, for example).

The list )
nmg: (Default)

[livejournal.com profile] thegreatgonzo questioned these seven interests, if you want me to ask about yours, comment below.

A rather good independent record label. The people who brought the world The Pixies, Dead Can Dance, The Cocteau Twins, M/A/R/R/S, and so on.
Dave Langford's multi-Hugo-winning fanzine/semi-prozine. Also an anagram of 'lesbian'.
looney labs
A small games company with a reputation for quirky games: Fluxx, Chrononauts, Icehouse.
magic realism
I'm rather fond of the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges.
Another Hugo-winning fanzine.
salt and sauce
The only thing worth putting on chips. I sneer at your gravy.
I remember when this World Wide Web was all Silverstands... One of the great what-ifs of computing history (second only to Babbage, I'd say), Xanadu was Ted Nelson's plan for a global hypertext system. In (sporadic) development since the 1960s, and arguably no closer to a releasable product than it was then, sadly.
nmg: (Default)

It's the letter-music meme that's doing the rounds:

  1. Reply to this post and I'll assign you a letter.
  2. List (and upload, if you feel like it) 5 songs that start with that letter.
  3. Post them to your journal with these instructions.

[livejournal.com profile] atommickbrane gave me "c" for "consultancy agreement which I appear to have lost all motivation to draft because I am full up from having LIVER! for lunch!"

  1. C'est Filon / Humphrey Lyttleton and his band. While Bad Penny Blues was probably the most successful of Humph's records released by Parlophone (it charted in the top twenty in the UK), this is probably my favourite of his Parlophones.
  2. Clap Hands / Tom Waits. Simply because Rain Dogs is a work of genius.
  3. Coal Creek March / Pete Steele. One of the many recordings made by Alan Lomax in the 1930s. There's more where this came from in the Library of Congress's American Memory collection.
  4. Close To Me / The Cure. Everyone loves Fat Bob.
  5. Cool Britannia / Bonzo Dog Band. My heart belongs to Dada.
nmg: (Default)

Rather later than hoped (v. busy at work), here are the answers to my book quiz:

The Quotes

Quote 1

Rambling sentences and sheep? It could only be Far From the Madding Crowd (1874) by Thomas Hardy, specifically the passage in which Gabriel Oak loses his shepherding livelihood thanks to an overenthusiastic sheepdog and a cliff.

Quote 2

The alien zoo is on the planet Tralfamadore, which makes this Slaughterhouse 5 (1969) by Kurt Vonnegut. So it goes.

Quote 3

Now, I am not wishing to be casting aspersions, but there is only one fellow who is writing about gangsters and other such persons in the continuous present tense, and that fellow is Damon Runyon. The quote is from Guys and Dolls (1932), a book that demands to be read aloud.

Quote 4

A trick question. It's a quote from a political theory text that's a book within a book. Emmanuel Goldstein's The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, which is from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948). Doubleplusgood.

Quote 5

It's been a quiet week in Lake Woebegon, as usual. Garrison Keillor doing his homely thing in Lake Woebegon Days (1985). If you're not aware, the Lake Woebegon News is available as a podcast - try looking on iTunes.

Quote 6

Another trick question. The conceited ass is clearly Sherlock Holmes, but the narrator isn't Dr Watson. In this case, it's Brigadier-General Sir Harry Paget Flashman, the bully and notable cad from Tom Brown's Schooldays. The quote is taken from George Macdonald Fraser's Flashman and the Tiger (1999), which also manages to work the Battles at Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana into the story. Highly recommended.

Quote 7

A bit of an easy one. It's a gumshoe evaluating a dame, and with that turn of phrase it could only be Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep (1939), eyeing up the delicious Mrs Regan.

Quote 8

Obligatory cultural stereotyping in the sequel to Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, the wonderful and little-read Three Men on the Bummel (1900). The unrepentant ignorer of signage is Harris, of course.

Quote 9

The book that launched a thousand stream-of-consciousness travelogues, and which was probably also responsible for the goddamned hippies. Jack Kerouac's semi-autobiographical road novel On the Road (1957). The sharp-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the name of the book appears in the quotation.

Quote 10

Modern Westernised Japanese with obsessive descriptions of food, so it has to be Haruki Murakami's Wind-up Bird Chronicles (1997).

The Scores

And so to the scores. In reverse order:

  • nul points, [livejournal.com profile] coffeeandtv0 (it's the taking part that counts)
  • 3 points, [livejournal.com profile] mcnutcase (who fell straight into the Sherlock Holmes trap)
  • 5 points, [livejournal.com profile] burkesworks (spot on the Vonnegut)
  • 8 points, [livejournal.com profile] lionsphil (partial credit for some good reasoning)
  • 10 points, [livejournal.com profile] swisstone (short and sweet)
  • 17 points, [livejournal.com profile] gothick_matt (good across the board knowledge, and some good guesswork)
  • 24 points, [livejournal.com profile] steer (glad you enjoyed the quiz)
  • and finally, with an uncanny 38 points, [livejournal.com profile] blue_condition

Named Awards

The Golden Banana Skin (for falling for the trick question in 6) goes to [livejournal.com profile] mcnutcase.

The Broken Chronoclastic Infundibulator (for the highest aggregate wrong guesses at dates) goes to [livejournal.com profile] gothick_matt, with an honourable mention to [livejournal.com profile] steer for missing the Jerome by sixty years.

The QI Medal of Honour (for the most interesting fact) goes to [livejournal.com profile] lionsphil for his trivia about the throat-shot Orwell.

The Amulet of ESP (for guessing a book you haven't read) goes to [livejournal.com profile] blue_condition for identifying the Hardy, including the character.

The original posting is now unscreened - thanks for playing.

Book Quiz

Feb. 22nd, 2008 08:38 pm
nmg: (Default)

I may do the film quotes quiz meme that's doing the rounds, but I was rather taken with the book quote quiz that [livejournal.com profile] steer treated us to yesterday. Given that I won through a mixture of geekery and guesswork, it's probably beholden on me to post another.

The Rules

(shamelessly cribbed from [livejournal.com profile] steer)

The point isn't to show off by guessing the titles of ones you've read, but by showing powers of reasoning to get setting and time and "interesting thing". Googling is expressly forbidden, obviously.

All comments are screened and I'll give out marks on Monday.


One point if you can get within twenty five years of when it was written. (Half point for within fifty years).

One point if you can get the genre/setting (so I'm looking for something like "nineteenth century adventure" "near future sci-fi" "contemporary new york" "cod medieval fantasy").

One point for author and/or title or series of books.

If you don't know the actual book/author I will give you a completely unfair discretionary point if you can guess something quite interesting about the book or author just from the text provided (not something obvious like "they start sentences with conjunctions" or "they're inexplicably fond of the Oxford comma". So you can still get full points if you don't know any of the actual books.

Really though, what I'm interested in is why you think what you think about the passages and how you tie them to a place and time. I think for some of them at least, the title should be guessable though. Comments are screened.

The Quotes

Read more... )

nmg: (Default)

1. You've lived in a variety of places including Bath, Soton and Edinburgh. Where would you most like to raise your family and grow old?

Read more... )

2. What's your favourite all-time film?

Read more... )

3. For a geek you seem quite good at stuff like mending cars and putting up sheds. Is there a non-intellectual job you could imagine doing for a living with satisfaction?

Read more... )

4. Do you think monogamy is viable in a long term relationship?

Read more... )

5. Do you think the Semantic Web is really going to change the shape of society in any definable way?

Read more... )

Comment if you want to be asked questions...

nmg: (Default)

This one is quite familiar - I did a variant some time ago:

Grab your nearest book, go the 123rd page, find the fifth sentence and type that and the two sentences after it.

The book is Joe Sacco's graphic novel Palestine; I'm equating a text box with a sentence and assuming that the order is strictly top-to-bottom and left-to-right (it would be rather hard to do this with some of my other comics).


the kids are running

hurling stones over the bus

nmg: (Default)

Go to Wikipedia. Type in your birth date (but not year). List three events that happened on your birthday. List two important birthdays and one interesting death.




nmg: (Default)

As seen and responded to on [livejournal.com profile] jorune and [livejournal.com profile] mhw:

If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, (even if we don't speak often) please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL memory of you and me. It can be anything you want – good or bad – BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE. When you're finished, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you.

nmg: (Default)

List your six current favorite songs and then pick six people who have to do the same.

Always going to be a bit tricky. These are my six favourite songs as of lunchtime today. The list will have changed by the end of lunchtime.

  1. Johann Sebastian Bach, C-minor Fugue from Book One of the Well-Tempered Clavier (BWV847). The Bach that I'm most likely to whistle in the shower, closely followed by Variation 10 from the Goldberg Variations and the D-major Prelude fom Book One.
  2. The Troubadours of King Baudouin, Sanctus from the Missa Luba. A glorious movement from a beautiful mass, made famous by its use in Lindsay Anderson's If.... and finally available on CD. Make sure you listen to the recording by the Troubadours, since all the other recordings are inferior.
  3. The Specials, International Jet Set. A fine track from Coventry's finest.
  4. Blowzabella, Death in a Fen -> Bruton Town -> Our Captain Cried from the album A Richer Dust. Bagpipes and the hurdy-gurdy are much-maligned instruments that have an important place in British folk music, and I can't think of a single track that shows them off to such effect. Also chosen because Bruton Town is perhaps my favourite folk song, and one of which I have strong emotional memories.
  5. Billy Bragg, The Red Flag. A wonderful recording of this anthem set to its original tune, The White Cockade, rather than to the dirge-like Tannenbaum.
  6. Fats Waller and his Buddies, The Minor Drag. If I had to choose one jazz track, this would be it, an upbeat, exuberant instrumental recorded in the spring of 1929.

Passing the torch on to [livejournal.com profile] gnommi, [livejournal.com profile] elseware, [livejournal.com profile] sbisson, [livejournal.com profile] fire_kitten, [livejournal.com profile] meryc and [livejournal.com profile] hanacandi.

nmg: (Default)

The Triumph of International Socialism

It'll have its day again, I hope. We've not really seen true international socialism thus far, admittedly. Some of the aspirations of the UN come close, but it has been hampered by a lack of control over economic policy and the need to kowtow to certain national interests in order to get them playing at all, and programmes like the WFP have more to do with the effects of protectionism and subsidy and paternalistic charity than they do with redistribution per se. For socialism to be viable, it must be supported by the populace, which requires a degree of informed altruism that we've not seen in some time. Certainly in the UK, the main political parties regard the debate on redistribution-as-societal-good as a debate which we cannot have; the deplorable lack of interest or understanding in socialist ideals cannot be entirely be blamed on Thatcherite self-interest.

As I've said, I hope that International Socialism will rise again. If it does, I suspect that it won't come out of Europe, but out of the heavily populated countries in the developing world from grass-roots organisations such as the Grameen Bank.

The semantic web

This is a good one. The Semantic Web is a bit of an odd beast, both maligned and celebrated, sometimes by the same people. The first question you have to ask is which Semantic Web you're talking about. On the one hand, you have all of the refugees from the Good Old-Fashioned Artificial Intelligence community, with their theorum provers and expert systems. Mostly, these folk take a very top-down view (an ontology designed artifact that embodies an explicit agreement on common vocabulary made within a community) and are most interested in being sound (not making any incorrect inferences), complete (finding out all the correct inferences) and tractable (getting an answer before the end of the universe), not necessarily in that order. They're dominated by the theorists and the logicians.

On the other hand, you have the Semantic Web hackers. These people take a bottom-up view, in which ontologies arise organically from the actions of communities, there are no restrictions on which vocabularies you can use together, and you're not too concerned about consistency. These range from the Friend-of-a-Friend (FOAF) people (who use RDF and OWL, but aren't really bothered about completeness at all and only care marginally more about soundness) to the lower-case-s semantic web people, like the folksonomists and the microformats people. This latter group are quite vocal in their opposition to the Semantic Web because they don't see the need for the added complexity of RDF or the benefits that having a common data model with clear semantics brings you, but they're still concerned about making information on the Web machine-understandable, even if only in an ad-hoc fashion.

In short, this is a rerun of the "neat vs scruffy" argument that the AI community had in the 1970s and 1980s; it's no coincidence that some of the same people have cropped up in the SW crowd.

Which group is right? Well, they both are, and they both aren't. It's my feeling that the Semantic Web, when it becomes widely adopted (and I believe it will), will be a fairly messy affair with areas of local agreement. We're not going to see a seamless info-future of the type that Tim, Jim and Ora predicted in their article in Scientific American (which as far as I'm concerned made the mistake of selling some of the same snake oil that the agent community has off-loaded over the years), but a SW that consists of regions of agreement that support certain communities in certain tasks and have the properties of soundness, completeness and consistency, and some chaotic interzones between them where the main rule is caveat lector.

Dark chocolate or Milk?

Dark, obviously. I've grown to like the standard Green&Black's 70% (their 72% is a bit too bitter for me, as is the Lindt dark) and was disappointed when they changed their Maya Gold to have only 55% cocoa solids. I've a soft spot for the dark chocolate that Bendick's use on their bittermints, and have a small bar of Michel Cluizet Noir Infini 99% cocoa solids that I've been working on for years (you just can't eat more than a tiny amount at once).

If I have to eat milk chocolate, I'll go for a dark milk like G&B's milk. White chocolate isn't chocolate at all, but a smooth mixture of fat and sugar.

The best way to holiday in Reykyavik

Icelandair fly from Heathrow, which is a good start. Probably a good idea to buy alcohol in duty-free on the way out, unless you fancy horribly inflated local prices. If you travel outside Reykyavik, remember that the locals are fiercely protective of their moss, so woebetide you should you damage it.

The British university system

Exhausting. Chronically under-funded. Frequently meddled with for political reasons. Still seems to keep working, mostly.

We're going to see some interesting changes (in the Chinese sense) over the next few years. Tuition fees will dramatically change the relationship between students and universities, probably for the worse. On the other hand, changes in the funding model (the advent of full economic costing on research grants from UK research councils) will downplay the importance of HEFCE grant funding, and so also the hated Research Assessment Exercise. Combined with recent movements in academic publishing (self-archiving, and the requirement by UK research councils that research outputs paid for with public monies are freely available to the public), the research environment may become slightly less "publish or perish", but winning grants from pots of money that are allocated on a competitive basis (a beauty contest if ever there was one) will probably become the measure of academic success instead.

I'll give it a few years before I decide whether it is an environment in which I wish to continue working.


A good chocolate cake is very hard to beat, particularly when served with mascarpone, but I really like the damp lemon and almond cake in Nigella, or a sticky ginger cake with lemon icing.

Carrot cake has always left me a bit cold, I'm afraid.

[livejournal.com profile] ias, any idea what sort of cake you'd like for your birthday?

Roger Zelazny

To my eternal shame, I hadn't read any Zelazny before I attended Lunicon back in 1993, something which I've since rectified. Amber never really did it for me, I'm afraid, but I think that The Doors of His Face... is one of the finest short story collections I've read, and I've got a bit of a soft spot for the Sandow books.

What is the mysterious connection between all the answers to this poll?

There is no connection. Move along. <fnord>

The importance of good underwear for the modern woman

To paraphrase William Morris, "have nothing on your person that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful". A well-designed corset in an attractive fabric can be both. A thong visible above the waistline of your builder's-cleavage-displaying hipster jeans is neither.


A truly remarkable organisation. That they manage to get consensus between such a disparate group of interests is little short of miraculous, and the W3C staffers are as dedicated a group of people as I've yet to meet.

Looking back over the thirteen years that I've been using the Web, it's clear that there's room for improvement and places where the Web can be made a richer place, but the progress that has been made so far is very impressive.

Goodman's grue-bleen paradox

I remember this vaguely from undergraduate AI courses, and really ought to make sure this gets into the courses here as an example of why you won't find a common ontology that suits everyone, and how the static nature of terms really depends on who is doing the looking.

Fairground rides

A good rollercoaster is hard to beat, but I've got some extremely fond memories of the rides at Peter Pan's Playground in Southend c. 1985, particularly the Whiplash and the Wendy Glide (probably the world's most rubbish rollercoaster). For rides in temporary fairgrounds, I'd have to pick Hearts and Diamonds (or whatever you call the big spinning drum) or any big wheel in which the capsules can be inverted.


Whatever floats your boat, mostly, but I'd add that men are generally hard done by when it comes to fashion, and that if wearing frocks is the only way that men can get more flamboyant clothes then so be it.

nmg: (Default)

Posted because lemmingry seems the fashion of the moment.

[Poll #507417]
nmg: (Default)

Shamelessly stolen from [livejournal.com profile] mr_tom:

  1. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a nose for a nose. I don't know what the Hell that means, but it sounds brilliant.
  2. My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with a girl who saw ****** pass-out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious.
    Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  3. Do you know the meaning of propriety?
  4. Shoot it off! Shoot! With the gun! That's what the bullets are for, you twit!
  5. Do you believe, Mr. Martins, in the stream of consciousness?
    The Third Man
  6. What would you have done if you were just getting out of the Army, if you'd been away from the real world for four years, if you weren't sure what kind of law you wanted to practice, and then one day you got a call from an old friend asking you to go to work for the President of the United States?
  7. How can they walk on these things? How do they keep their balance?
    Must be the way their weight is distributed.
    Some Like It Hot
  8. A young man trying to impress beyond his abilities. Too much spice. Too many notes.
  9. Moon, American, Floyd, Heywood, R.
    2001: A Space Odyssey
  10. Bunch of savages in this town.
nmg: (Default)

From [livejournal.com profile] swisstone and various others:

  1. Get your playlist together, put it on random, and play!
  2. Pick your favorite lines from the first 25 songs that play!
  3. Post and let everyone you know guess what song the lines come from!
  4. Cross out the songs when someone guesses correctly!
Show me the lyrics )


nmg: (Default)
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