Bowie’s in Space

Bowie’s gone. One of the best thinkpieces I’ve read in the past day (and they’ve all been good; testament to the thinking man and woman’s idol) is this one, from Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine. Not only is it a fun look at life pre-fame and in the grind of production, but also an artist’s sincere appreciation of the technical and creative mastery behind the songs now being sung through tears in Brixton, New York, and Wellington.

In 1999 Bret McKenzie and I were sitting with our guitars in our dingy flat in Wellington trying to learn David Bowie songs. They were catchy, which usually translates to being easy to play. Not David Bowie. He’d taken Paul McCartney’s style of making an epic medley song and made it more subtle, parts seamlessly changing without you even realising it, you’d just feel the change like a change in your own mood.

He’d taken rock’n’roll and added parts of black soul music which somehow he’d made white without making it uncool. We couldn’t play these songs, they were too tricky to learn, too many parts, all those tricky chords, all those tempo changes, the changes in vocal range, sometimes a deep masculine growl, sometimes a high falsetto of some third alien gender.

We sat around defeated by our hero’s chord book but admiring him more. He’d made pop songs into mini operas but without showing off about it.

Source: David Bowie: We Idolised and Imitated Him, But Couldn’t Get Bowie on Our Show | The Spinoff

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Clooney Pranks

Oh man, sometimes I’m glad my dream of snagging George Clooney didn’t come true. He’s a professional prankster who sometimes acts.


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Merry Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS from Charlie the venus flytrap!!!

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Just your average Scottish bus ride

I’ve spent fair amount of time away in the past two years, and while I don’t often feel nostalgic about Scotland, this video has reminded me of how fun the average bus trip could be. Assuming you weren’t on the 10% of buses containing a physically aggressive drunk, you were apt to leave the bus with a whole new circle of friends and a big smile on your face.

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Extreme Birdwatching Show

“Extreme birdwatching”. I would watch the shit out of this.

Jiffier Gifs

Source: motogp – Jiffier gifs through HTML5 Video Conversion.

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France’s Cult of Fearlessness – The New York Times

I’m saddened, if not surprised, to hear that Parisians are starting to feel afraid of daily life after the terror attacks. I recognise those bargaining symptoms myself, though. It’s strange how everyone deals so differently and independently with fear. I think I could feel quite safe wandering around Paris right now, though I wouldn’t be able to force myself on a plane to get there.  In the wake of the attack, it was astounding to watch some on my Facebook feed morph quickly into the ‘grab your kids, head for the shelter, and push the button’ mentality. Fewer seemed to adopt what I think of as the Paris philosophy – keep living, and keep loving. It’s all we can do.

SINCE the attacks two weeks ago, I’ve been avoiding supermarkets — which seem like potential targets — and doing most of my shopping at a minimarket. The cashier there, a young man from Mali, keeps telling me not to be afraid.

“They’re not going to make me change my life,” he said of the attackers. “I’ll go wherever I want.”

I’ve been getting this lecture all the time. “You cannot be afraid, Madame,” said the lady who runs one of my daughter’s extracurricular activities, when we didn’t show up soon after the attacks.

In Paris these days, it’s not chic to admit that you’re terrified. Almost immediately after the shootings, signs and hashtags appeared saying “même pas peur” — a kind of playground chant meaning “you don’t scare me.”

Source: France’s Cult of Fearlessness – The New York Times

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Eagles of Death Metal Detail Horrific Paris Attack

I’ve been having a hard time in the wake of the Paris attacks.  I’m glad, though, to see the city rebounding in exactly the way I would expect it to (which is one of the reasons I love it). One of the band members in the Bataclan has the same mindset:

Hughes said the band will eventually finish the tour and is looking forward to returning to Paris. “I cannot wait to get back to Paris. I want to play,” said the singer. “I want to be the first band to play in the Bataclan when it opens back up. Our friends went there to see rock and roll and died. I want to go back and live.”

“It’s going to take a long time for anyone to know what to do,” Homme added. “There is no why for this?”

Source: Eagles of Death Metal Detail Horrific Paris Attack, Offer Support | Rolling Stone

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Paris: You Don’t Want to Read This

I’m still reeling from the terror attacks on my favourite city the other night. It’s been tough reading old friends and neighbours baying for blood and falling right into the trap ISIS set for them. I wish more people recognised what this writer does. It might help us deal with the threat more clear-headedly.

But I do have this: stop what we have been doing for the last 14 years. It has not worked. There is nothing at all to suggest it ever will work. Whack-a-mole is a game, not a plan. Leave the Middle East alone. Stop creating more failed states. Stop throwing away our freedoms at home on falsehoods. Stop disenfranchising the Muslims who live with us. Understand the war, such as it is, is against a set of ideas — religious, anti-western, anti-imperialist — and you cannot bomb an idea. Putting western soldiers on the ground in the MidEast and western planes overhead fans the flames. Vengeance does not and cannot extinguish an idea.

Source: Paris: You Don’t Want to Read This | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

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Election by the stats

This is an interesting look at last night’s Canadian election from a statistical point of view, discussing polls, votes per seat, and riding vs national votes.

The Liberals’ also had unexpected vote efficiency. They had the momentum, but the party did not seem to have the electoral map to give them 170 seats. In 2011, the party earned 82,000 votes for each of their 34 MPs, whereas the Conservatives needed about 35,000 votes per seat. In 2015, the Liberals were the vote efficiency victors, needing under 38,000 votes per seat. The Conservative requirement ballooned to 57,000 votes per seat, far higher than it has been in any election since before 2004. The Liberal vote got out where it needed to. 

Source: Momentum carries Liberals past majority threshold – Politics – CBC News

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“The Lost Museum”

I was lucky enough to happen upon this exhibition in Berlin last month. As a Caravaggio fan, I mourned the 3 works destroyed in a 1945 fire, and never expected to see them face to face.  In truth, I still haven’t, but black and white replicas in the original dimensions helped me get a sense of what I might have seen.  Those Nazis have so much to answer for.

The exhibition’s focus is on the fate of the 400 works lost by the painting and sculpture collections once housed in this building. Given all we know about the millions of lives lost and the amount of property destroyed thanks to the actions of a regime headquartered in Berlin, such numbers of artworks might seem infinitesimal, and beside the point. This could have been a self-pitying display. Instead, it’s a candid exposition of museum issues regarding art loss, recovery and reconstitution, described in the dual-language (German/English) wall texts as “a polyphonic reflection: curators, conservators, archivists, historians, moulders and artists . . . offer a variety of perspectives and even contradictions.” The exhibition can also be understood in the context of the recent trend in museums to encourage multiple voices and perspectives. The visitor may enter with a fixed view of how to think about seven decades following the war’s end, but the museum asserts that “this legacy [of missing art] has meant something different for each generation. Every approach reflects the prevailing political zeitgeist and thus the decision to favor one version of the past over another.”

via .

The Lost Museum

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