Posts from July 2013

Jul 13

Great News For All Our Clients

FT4 comments • 490 views

I was reading this piece on Ernst & Young and it struck me – not for the first time – that growing up reading IPC comics was the best possible preparation for a career in BUSINESS esp. mergers and acquisitions.

Just look at the history of Ernst & Young, or EY as we now call them.

Ernst & Ernst became
Ernst & Whinney became
Ernst & Young became

What does this remind you of? THAT’S RIGHT.


Jul 13

MICHAEL JACKSON – “You Are Not Alone”

Popular63 comments • 8,880 views

#726, 9th September 1995

Jackson Alone Whatever grim spirits drove Michael Jackson, they were hovering around his music long before HIStory – a double album that, through hubris or masochism (or commercial good sense) directly linked his greatest songs to his newest. There’s terror and paranoia to spare on the hits, even before Jordan Chandler’s accusations against Jackson curdled his public profile: the HIStory songs were darker still. Whether it was the agony of wrongful accusation or the cold horror of discovery motivating Jackson – or just a development of his existing demons – his music around this time is a sea of sorrow and fear.


#Harkive – 9th July 2013

FT/10 comments • 857 views

This post is my contribution to Harkive – an opt-in mass ethnographic record of a day in the lives of music fans worldwide. (A bit like Nick Southall’s Music Listening Day from the last couple of years). The post will be updated occasionally through the day, so read from the bottom up if you want a chronology.

Michael Jackson – “You Are Not Alone” (twice)
Once before I write the entry, once after. I often play other records when writing, but didn’t this time. The final play – and the overall intensity – bumps up the intended mark by 1. Hasty rewrites after I discover it wasn’t written by Jackson, then it’s good to go.

And that turns out to be it! I was about to put something else on but realised it’s turned midnight. John Newman wins the repeat play cup, Genius/GZA the best record I played today prize, and the best to actually work to award goes to the Cocteau Twins. Night night!

MIA – “Feel The Noize” (twice)
MIA – “Bad Girls”
Migos ft Drake – “Versace”

I have a bunch of Tumblr posts and Tweet links bookmarked with people’s picks of the best of the year so far, and I’ve been dipping into that. Looking for something to play while I did the washing up, I remembered I hadn’t heard the new M.I.A. single, so I picked up that on iMusic (good, spiky, bit like “Bird Flu”, though maybe I’m projecting because that’s a favourite). That made me want to hear “Bad Girls” again, so I cued that up on iMusic too, and also the Migos track I’d just read about on Tom Breihan’s tumblr. Standing in the kitchen cleaning plates with a speakerless iPhone playing YouTube quality sound out loud is about the worst possible way to hear new music, so I can’t really draw any conclusions from my listen to “Versace”.

Rudimental – “Feel The Love”/”Not Giving In”/”Waiting All Night”
Walking home from the station, playing the three Rudimental singles from this or last year, to remind myself of the context of the Newman song and because I’d not really given “Not Giving In” its due before.


Jul 13

I love Andy Murray

FT//6 comments • 698 views

It’s come to my attention that FT made a post about loathing Andy Murray awhile ago. Now, not to completely blow apart my role as FreakyTrigger’s resident hate-filled, bile-spewing attack dog but I feel I have to dispute this.

Having only traumatic memories of being expected to ‘hit’ a small moving, spherical object with a ‘racquet’ on a judgemental arena that could only be called a ‘court’ by the most draconian of 2000AD’s creations, I am not much interested in tennis. Apparently it’s supposed to be fun or something- I am deeply unsure about this, what with the way you had to apparently ‘volley’ ‘shots’ at people. Surely that’s the sort of thing you’re meant to get out of your system a normal way, like Call of Duty or Saints Row 3?

But (and to gleefully and without regret peel another layer off the supposed geezaesthetics here) I am someone who has lived in London whilst the not-exactly-offensive-to-the-eye posters of Roger Federer in his undercrackers have been on buses. Sure, there have been times when I’ve felt like I should leap in front of children and shield their eyes with my hands upon seeing the number 23 approaching but as someone easily old enough to appreciate all that; gosh, yes. 10 of whatever he’s selling- the Jungfrau or Toblerone or something, right?

Home-grown tennis totty, though, has not exactly been in abundance.


Jul 13

BLUR – “Country House”

FT + Popular189 comments • 14,459 views

#725, 26th August 1995

Blur-Country-House-54546 BOXING?

A “heavyweight battle”, the NME cover-billed it. And if “Country House” vs Oasis’ “Roll With It” was a title bout, the music press were desperate to play Frank Warren.

Perhaps they had most at stake. It was, in a way, their last great fight. Many other moments define Oasis. Blur are best remembered for different songs. Britpop itself? Well, this was the high tide – probably the main reason Oasis even count – and the rivalry became an ongoing, rather tiresome, pop storyline for years after. But even then the battle is just one of a scrapbook of memories: Britpop had to be a thing already for this tussle to even matter.

The press, though – this is the climax of its 80s and 90s story, its turn away from other music to keep the indie flame burning, and how it saw its favourites gradually win over first the radio establishment, then a wider public. And look – here they are! Top of the charts, ma! Whoever wins, we won, is the NME’s message, but in that final ridiculous week the story had outgrown them. After Britpop, readers dwindled, and no new story emerged: the price of ‘we won’ turned out to be that there wasn’t a “we” anymore.


Jul 13

Flash is probably the best medium for resourcing-based games around at the minute

FT/Post a comment • 440 views

She says, as though she knows anything about it. But allowing me an amateur’s enthusiasm: I kind of love cozino games, as a …well, not as a concept, as a collective of things, a catalogue of tiny universes. Each game, however basic or cynical, needs some skeletal concept of its internal mechanics- they might be illogical or unsatisfying or outright exploitative but there has to be that little spark of world-building to it. And Flash is so simple, as a platform, so devoid of eg: high-end 3D rendering expectations that world building can be driven entirely by whimsy.

Whimsy works really well with resourcing games- what works even better is when someone’s actually thought it through, though and the easily adaptable medium just gives them the comfort to add lots of layers of curiousness, a really complete and sometimes very elegantly complex world. Regardless of how much sense Flash games make, though, there they all are as part of the myriad catalogue of the format; a multiverse of many variants on frequently similar themes, using the same basic tools to create millions of variant mechanics. This is enormously pleasing to me.

This was actually supposed to be a post about Marvel’s What If? series, since there’s a new one out and I added it to my pull list when their website erroneously suggested it was written by Kieron Gillen. And then didn’t take it off my pull list because I am an enormous ho for Marvel’s gloriously enthusiastic, totally matter-of-fact (whilst baffling and sometimes distressing in a pleasingly realistic way) embracing of the Many Worlds theory.

Then I went on Twitter because I am a responsible writer and only check social media 937294 times before starting the first sentence. And because I follow the fantastic Kew GIS for details about the most awesomely extreme botanical missions on the planet, they happened to pique my interest with this. Seems on topic-


Which is why I haven’t written anything about Marvel’s What If? series and have spent two and a half hours playing Rizk.


Jul 13

“Last night I was on a podium, waving my shirt around my head and a sudden thought came to me”; youth underemployment today

FT/2 comments • 1,902 views

Screenshot_2013-07-03-11-01-14-11.02 million 16-24 year olds are unemployed and not in full-time education in Britain currently. 17.35 million are unemployed in the US, slightly over a quarter of the potentially employed in that age group. And it’s getting worse, not better.

And all this time, the message you’re told as young person, much too young to make choices like ‘what piece-of-shit thing do you want to do for the rest of your life?’ you have to make the decision as to what you want to specialise in. You might do it age 14, you might do it age 16, you might (if you’re super lucky) get through to 18 or even 21 before you really narrow your options.

If at any of those points you give employment a try and it doesn’t work, you’re told that the answer is another qualification- whether it’s sneering at your lack of whatever high school completion certificate(s) or the view that if you just converted your degree to law, that’ll work this time.

You’ll never fulfil your potential (whatever some varied but predetermined social expectations and maybe, hopefully, your own particular talents and interests make that) unless you get back to school and really hone your specialism, this particular ability you’ve bargained your future on and which everyone either told you wouldn’t amount to a real thing or was hopelessly second-hand ambitious for you to become a world leader in.

Or you stop that. You stop that and you try and work out what you’re actually doing because you can’t take on any more mortgage-sized debts against unsecured futures and you need a minute to work out what’s going on here. Except then you have to pay the rent.


Jul 13

Number Ones vs History

FT//17 comments • 1,788 views

Commenter Nixon, on another thread, asked this: “we’re now past the 40-year mark, long enough for trends to emerge… do you think that the list of UK number ones, taken as a weird at-a-glance sweep of British music history, very broadly accurately reflects that history?“. I gave a long reply, and writing it, it struck me that my answer was fairly central to the Popular project and that the question deserved more exposure than being Comment #44 on an Outhere Brothers thread was likely to give it. So here we are, slightly edited from its original form.

Number Ones? They mean nothing to me...

Number Ones? They mean nothing to me…

This is sort of the central question Popular wanted to answer – it reflects *a* history, but which one? I don’t think “accurately reflects that history” is meaningful though – there isn’t an accurate pop history to reflect, there’s a sense of ‘what happened’ and ‘what mattered’ which is a mix of personal memories, received wisdom, critical takes and commercial realities, which themselves may not be realities given the distortions of sales data methodologies.

When pop history is written – literally written, in books or articles or lists, the version of pop history that is PLAYED is different again – it’s usually written by the critical winners, not the commercial ones. So if the question is – how well do Number Ones map onto that? – the answer varies. If you look at it by genre, then for some things – Merseybeat, glam, new wave, the house music revolution, 00s R&B – it does very well. For others – metal, punk, Britpop, progressive rock, hip-hop up to a point – it seems to do quite poorly.


Jul 13

I was a teenage dark elf priestess

FT18 comments • 5,084 views

This article by Laurie Penny on the pervasiveness and persuasiveness of the manic pixie dream girl trope is really good.

I’m the same age as Laurie Penny, so was plagued by the same cultural stuff as her- I don’t know if it’s just egocentrism for my own timeline but I feel like the 90s marked a real rise of the manic pixie. Britpop had a fair chunk of them, they appeared as outsider girls in offbeat, dry comedies. How quirky! Wow! A lady with a guitar and a fringe perhaps she is supah speshul and liking her will be a meaningful growth experience for me. Level up!

And that’s reductive of ladies with guitars and fringes, of course. Because they’re real, awesome people. But that’s not my reductivism, it’s the eighty millionth interview with Brody Dalle when in 2012 people are still fascinated by the idea of a woman in a rock band as something unusual or somehow defiantly implausible. Jesus wept.

One of the things I intensely dislike about some sorts of indie music is the way it creates this easy vision of crush-girl. Somethingsomething about her hair and how she probably won’t look at you but somethingsomething thought maybe she was deeper and more meaningful than the other girls [nb: that’s because that’s how a crush works, boys with guitars] and the worst thing about these basic, rolled-up character tropes is that they come with some implication that because manic pixie dream girls are special, all other girls, all these other people with their real people things are less. All those annoying real things are faded into a muddy background blur against the special, shiny limitedness of the trope.