Proven By Science
[UPDATE with attributions and conclusion under ‘the fold’ as they say]
Apparently, (apparently), some people are going around saying comedy is subjective – an “art” if you will. Nonsense. Just because the rigours of science haven’t been applied to something, doesn’t mean it can be so wantonly abandoned to the chaos of the immeasurable.
So for the following poll I do NOT want to see any come back guff – “interpretation” this, “define your terms” that. ALL THE WORDS IN THE FOLLOWING POLL QUESTION ARE SELF EVIDENTLY CLEAR, UNAMBIGUOUS AND UNDERSTOOD BY ALL.
OK. Happy? YES YOU ARE HAPPY. ANSWER
Freaky Trigger has been going since 1999, almost the exact amount of time the Sugababes have existed. Like the Sugababes it has had many incarnations, from breathless multi-column blog, to the more sedate affair you see right now. But through all of its hiatuses, breakdowns and breakups, both Freaky Trigger and the Sugababes have survived. Of course we would see them as a kindred spirit. Of course they are elemental to us.
The diagnosis came at the age of 2. My father had set me down some distance from the hives, handing me a jar of honey, and he went to tend the bees. Or “keep” them. I got stung as I sat there, and my little body swole up like a tomato. The hospital nurse (my father claims) said I was the most allergic case they’d ever had.
I was stung 11 times in the next eight years. Each sting required a trip to the emergency room. Trust me when I tell you that “the ER” isn’t as sexy as George Clooney made it out to be. One time I saw a guy with multiple stab wounds in the waiting room, sitting calmly on one of the orange plastic seats, holding his sides. (Many of my friends had never been stung at all. Is there something about the flesh of allergic kids that proves irresistible to bees – and indeed to yellowjackets, wasps, and hornets? Something about the way they smell?)
The full-body swelling is what distinguishes your allergic types from run-of-the-mill stingees. When it happens, it’s serious. So throughout my childhood I went every six weeks, like clockwork, to get “my shots” – four injections, each with a different blend of hymenoptera serum, designed to mitigate any systemic reaction to a bee sting. But the shots hurt, too. Was it worth it? Getting “stung” 30-some times a year by a needle just in case I got stung once by a bee?
This is what happens when you dip a cheeseburger in hydrochloric acid. I want to try this at home!
In part 1 of this series looking at artist metrics on Last.FM, I talked about PPL (Plays Per Listener) and also the relative popularity of each act’s top track.
In this part we dig a little bit deeper into an artist’s catalogue, with two more metrics based on their list of top tracks (which, remember, are the tracks with most listeners over the last six months, not over the whole of LFM’s history). I’m calling these metrics – rather unimaginatively – head and body. “Head” is the number of listeners to the tenth most popular track expressed as a percentage of the number of listeners to the first. “Body” is the number of listeners to the fiftieth most popular track expressed as a percentage of the number of listeners to the tenth.
Both of these are based on the same principle – ratios of popular and less popular songs in an artist’s catalogue – but they turn out to measure quite different things. Head measures the extent to which an act is a several-hit wonder. A high head means that your top track isn’t that much more popular than your tenth, which usually means you’ve racked up either a bunch of successful singles or have at least one album that people are keen to listen to in toto. A low head means that you have a few, or maybe just one track which people are particularly keen on but that interest doesn’t extend very far – it suggests a big chunk of casual listeners in your audience.
Ah controversy. So many people court you but when is the wedding? I have always found the ideas of religions advertising to be a bit odd*, though even I cannot help but smuggle a small smile when I think of cheap posters saying Carpenter Seeks Joiners (flocking Eastern Europeans not wanted – pah). Nevertheless the teacup tempest caused by this ultrasound poster campaign for Christmas** does seem to flap around the resemblance this poster has to those used by anti-abortion campaigns of recent years (of course no-one really minds pro-lifers using Christianity for their own ends but I digress). This poster however is so staggeringly bonkers that it cannot help raise a large number of secondary thoughts, a number of which are pro-choice. I mean Mary didn’t really have a choice about harbouring Jesus in her womb, and honour that I daresay it was, it probably put Joseph’s back up a bit and she didn’t even have the benefit of a quickie with a swan that she might have got from a different pantheon.
Anyway it made me think:
a) That halo must be a bit uncomfortable.
I was lucky enough to attend a fascinating talk hosted by Mark Earls at the RSA last night on “cultural evolution” – using evolutionary theory to examine the mechanics of how stuff spreads through culture. I then came home and found a great Nitsuh Abebe post on my tumblr dashboard about music critic cliches – when and how they’re used.
The link between these two things? One of the most interesting parts of the talk was when Dr Alex Bentley of Durham university showed some analysis of the spread of “buzzwords” in academia – how particular language choices move through a population. He was looking at the change in use of words like “nuanced”, “apropos”, or “agency” as well as more obviously loaded terms like “Marxist” and words like “retarded” (which academics tend to use to mean ‘slowed’). So of course I found this quite exciting, as it seems to me not wholly unlikely that the use of words like “ethereal” or “soundscape” might well spread in similar ways.
Yesterday’s long overdue unveiling of the Pumpkin Publog’s favoured list of friends – friends who unfailingly keep our fettles fine on these February nights – let’s not speak of the mornings – prompted a bit of “who dat?” and “wha??” – at least from this corner – so if you too, dear one, find yourself in need of some architecural certainty, a solid platform from which to launch yourself towards certain bin death, look no further. Courtesy of Flickr user John Bullas, this CAD-rendered chart has pretty much everything you need to know if you want to make classic American cocktails with the precision of a construction foreman. You can click on it to go through to a gigantic version, suitable for framing.
Every year since pubs were invented (nine years by my reckoning), the fine drinkers of Freaky Trigger and ILX have spent the 29th December in a pub. Well, at least seven pubs infact, for the 29th is the date of the Annual Between Christmas and New Year Pub Crawl. Why the 29th? Well it’s the quietest pub day of the year, so we do our bit for the licensed trade and try to bolster their coffers.
Past crawls have taken in the Euston Hexagon, the Mornington Crescent, strange arcane routes across the river and last year a foray into Marylebone. This year we are again pushing further afield, by about half a mile and have settled on the wonderful environs of Pimlico, and its surprisingly large number of estate pubs!
So I give you Das Pimlico Boot (when you see the map it makes sense).
I will say not one bad word about Sam Smith’s in this review. Someone else wants to talk around that issue, but safe to say that as someone with a large social group of varying incomes, Sam Smith’s pubs being cheap has always been a factor. The John Snow in Soho is one of those pubs we rarely go to these days (in the area the Shaston Arms or Star And Garter get more visits) but hasn’t really changed, and holds a firm and fond place in our memories. I probably pop in there a couple of times a year and have whiled away a fair few hours with a pint of Hefeweisse reading about the good Dr Snow upstairs.
So things to note. The John Snow is named after John Snow the health campaigner, not the newsreader, which is amusing in itself as John Snow was a confirmed teetotaller*. The pub is near the pump that Snow brought fresh water into Soho thus sorting out the cholera epidemic. This marks it out in Soho already, for an area with a pretty full history an awful lot of the pubs are highly anonymous.