Posts from January 2018

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Jan 18

The Freaky Trigger Readers’ Poll 2017: #20-#11

FT1 comment • 131 views

Heart_of_the_Ocean“Hi there, I’m the Heart of the Ocean, a fictional diamond necklace made famous by Britney asking whether I’d been chucked in the Atlantic Ocean or not when actually I was on MARS. My higher than average refractive index means I have an angle on everything! I’ve often wondered whether Britney has actually seen Titanic all the way through, or if like me, she dozed off in the middle and forgot that (SPOILER ALERT) the old lady was actually Rose all along!!! I don’t know why Billy Zane bothered giving me to Britters anyway, I ended up living in an ophidiarium for 80 years with that anaemic snake. But enough about Matt Damon and that Martian igloo (o-ho), my heart must go on – with the poll results!”

Thanks very much, The Heart Of The Ocean if that is indeed your real name and you are not one of the 3 replicas made for the duration of filming. Here’s the next batch:

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Jan 18

Read Harder Challenge (1 of 24): SIX TO SIXTEEN

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 72 views

Six to Sixteen: A Story for GirlsSix to Sixteen: A Story for Girls by Juliana Horatia Ewing

Read as part of the Book Riot Read Harder 2018 Challenge (Category: “A children’s classic published before 1980”)

She’s no relation, but I’ve always had a curiosity about the work of my mid-Victorian namesake Mrs Ewing, author of dozens of books and short stories for children. In her time a bestseller – enough that her early death sparked an 18-volume memorial edition of her collected works – hardly anyone reads her now, but there’s a chain of admiration linking her to the present day. There’s something of Mrs.Ewing’s unpatronising interest in childhood concerns in the work of E. Nesbit, for instance (who is not much read herself but whose flame is kept alive by Pullman and others).

Even so I was a bit scared to approach Six To Sixteen – I had the idea Mrs Ewing’s books might be rather dry and improving, since she was keen for them to lead her child-readers along virtuous paths. But I was wrong. If there’s a central message of Six To Sixteen, it’s one that’s orthodox today but I suspect was a good deal less widely agreed in the 1860s – the need for girls to have an education and lifestyle that strongly emphasises curiosity and “intellectual pursuits” (everything from art to naturalism to languages) over the traditional domestic and social spheres of the Victorian feminine.

2018 Music Diary Week 2: The Week Of Intensity

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NEW MUSIC

camila lp

Day 12: Camila Cabello – Camila: Short, well-put-together pop LP which puts “Havana” fourth – I don’t really get how post-physical media track ordering works, but back in the day this would have been a statement that yes, she has plenty of others where that came from, thank you. And it’s true – the sound of the LP is the woozy, sparse mid-tempo mode of current pop, but with stronger songs and Cabello’s slightly raspy, bullshit-weary tone to elevate it.

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Jan 18

The Freaky Trigger Readers’ Poll 2017: #30-#21

FT11 comments • 383 views

heroHullo! I’m Hero, the naughty hedgehog mascot of the 2017 World Athletics Championships. You thought I was mute, didn’t you, just because I was holding up all those Bangface-style signs? In fact I was merely SILENCED by the authorities. Unable to accept my wacky brand of slapstick humour and terrified that I would reveal the TRUTH about the Olympic stadium, they turned off the microphone I stole from Iwan Thomas just as I was getting to the juicy bits. The scandal came out eventually so now I’m free to say whatever I like! The MAN will feel the sharp end of my barbs now! I’ll make them wish they never used the Benny Hill music over all my highlight reels!

Thanks Hero. Maybe there’s a good alternative theme for you in this batch?

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Jan 18

Popular Crystal Ball: 2017 – Islands In The Stream

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Tom, enjoying Havana

Tom, enjoying Havana

Its Sheeranmania bookends might fool you into thinking that 2017 was just as bad a year for Number Ones as 2016. It wasn’t. For a start, very little could be. But while last year saw the charts reeling under the impact of streaming, this year they adjusted. New rules: get people in the first 30 seconds or GTFO (aka fail to count as a play, fall off the Spotify playlists, etc.) The emerging formula – with some variations – is to put the chorus first and then, if we’re lucky, fool around with variations and guest spots later. Those stars big enough to ignore this imperative often used their power badly.

Anyway, the Number Ones of 2017, in order. I’m pleasantly surprised at how far down this list I have to go before I get to singles I would turn off rather than hear. I’m also pleasantly surprised that – assuming I ever get my groove back – the future of Popular holds the opportunity to write about Young Thug, Quavo, Daddy Yankee, Chance The Rapper, and more. But I’m disappointed that I don’t really love any of these songs, even my favourite.

The Freaky Trigger Movie Poll 2017: #40 – #31

Do You See + FT9 comments • 230 views

6a0105364a8fba970c0153927016cd970b-800wiHi, I’m Captain Ivan Drago, the Muscles from Moscow and still Undisputed World Heavy Champion if you were the kind of person who wandered out of Rocky IV halfway through and never saw a Rocky movie, or a Creed movie ever again. And I can tell you my life as the most beloved person (behind the most committed communist leader ever Mikhail Gorbachev) in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is peachy keen, particularly if you also have avoided all media from the late eighties onwards. As I have. After all I train 23 hours a day, only leaving a few moments to be pumped with steroids and varnished. But apparently it is 2018, and the above is a Momentum communist fantasy, so I shall instead retreat into watching recent movies to distract me. Has anything good come out recently?

Thanks Ivan, and for what its worth, I never believed that Rocky could beat you. Even with James Brown’s help. Nevertheless without further ado, here are the films that you lot thought were the good, but not top thirty good which is just the kind of films Ivan Drago deserves.

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Jan 18

2018 Music Diary Week 1: The Week Of Flutes

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Last year I posted the new records I listened to every day on Facebook, deliberately writing nothing about them. This year I’m still listening to a new (to me) record every day, but I’m trying to be more thorough about what I think of them, and I’ll be posting this every week on here.

NEW MUSIC (2018)

cupcakke ephorize

Day 5: CupcaKke – Ephoriser: New LP from the Chicago rapper – last year’s Queen Elizabitch got the balance just right between ear-burning sex raps, conscious stuff, put-downs of the competition and introspective jams, and the beats were sproingy good-time things. This new one is a lot less fun – consciously so in places – but even the filth sounds jaded, dutiful even. Some strong, melancholy beats – a lot of woodwind – but they don’t suit CupcaKke’s aggressive, barking flow that well.

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Jan 18

The Freaky Trigger Readers’ Poll 2017: #40-#31

FT18 comments • 449 views

demonheadmasterHello children. I’m the Demon Headmaster, beloved patriarchal figure of note who wants nothing more than to educate keen students in the most efficient, hypnotic manner possible. If getting results requires a subtle Orwellian undercurrent to my methods then so be it. Anyway, I’ve been asked by the board of governors to step in and overhaul this site. December may have seen the highest monthly posting rate since June 2010, but you slackers running this place are capable of so much more! With some… gentle persuasion… I will increase this blog’s SEO metrics and fulfil my ultimate goal of taking over the worl–… I mean… pivoting to video! Mwahahahaha!

Thanks, Demon Headmaster! Freaky Trigger is a marvellous site and this is the best poll I’ve ever been to. Let’s get cracking:

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Jan 18

Good Comics I Read In 2017

The Brown Wedge5 comments • 252 views

seven sacksI’m not doing a comics poll this year – the slack is being admirably taken up with Pete’s new TV poll – but I still read a LOT of comics last year. Here, in no special order, were some of the best ones, new to me if not always to the world.

HOW TO BE HAPPY (by Eleanor Davis; Fantagraphics)

I loved this, a collection of beautifully composed stories and vignettes in a variety of styles, from gorgeous colour-saturated paintings to quick, fluid multi-page sketch stories that reminded me of Jules Feiffer (who’s also a reference point for Davis’ sharp observations of human neuroses). Some of the stories are glimpses into imagined worlds – like a near-future family reunion – others, like the eerie, funny, “Seven Sacks” – draw on folklore tropes. Davis’ skill at capturing the movement of bodies makes the simplest of ideas sing on the page.

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Jan 18

Provenance And Use AKA A Vague Critical Resolution

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Culture circulates online within algorithm-driven networks: Google, Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, etc. These are also automatic measurement systems. Two particularly valuable things they measure are attribution – the path you took to reach something – and conversion (in its crudest form, did you buy it? but we can also throw in engagement, sharing, and other such soft interactions).

I’m using “valuable” here in the sense of “this is data marketers want”, which is why I’m also using the hard, gross language of attribution and conversion. Emotionally there’s a temptation to try and disengage from this, treating cultural objects (especially art, music, etc) as separate from the networks which reveal and sustain, but also exploit and reduce them.

I feel strongly that I don’t want to do this. If that data is powerful, I want to reclaim and name it for myself. I’m not talking about having more power over the algorithms that affect us and more visibility of their outcomes. That kind of thing is vital political work but as a writer about culture I also feel I should be keeping sight of the human and personal dimension of attribution and conversion – or, to use better words, provenance and use.