Archive for February 2008


Tim Berne’s Bloodcount @ An Die Musik, Baltimore MD, 2008-02-09

February 11th, 2008 — 12:28am

So I went out last night to An Die Musik in Baltimore to see Tim Berne’s Bloodcount (w/Chris Speed, Jim Black, and Michael Formanek), which purportedly is the second of three shows they’re playing for the first time in a decade. The first show they played on this micro-tour was in NYC on February 3rd, and I never found any written reactions to that show, so I feel obliged to at least mark in this medium that I actually went out at night, for roughly the second time in several years (not counting Fort Reno shows), because I am a lazy chump.

It turned out to be a great venue — the second floor of a commercial row house in Mount Vernon, filled with about 80 floral easy chairs. I only saw the second set, which ran about an hour, made up of two pieces (I think around 15 min and then 45 min, or so). It was everything I hoped it would be, and, never having seen them play before, it cleared up some of my bafflement as to how they operate — their music has always seemed to guided by a inexplicable alien logic, but they turn out to be regular mortals after all, though bizarrely talented. They fed my short attention span with their ability to switch idioms on a dime (Jim Black: holy crap), but in the scope of long-form compositions, that read like a series of cinematic episodes stitched by that inscrutable logic. I do wish I’d seen the first set too, on the premise that it would have better helped me figure out what was composed and what was improvised; certainly, given how long they’ve been playing together, how skilled they are, and how clever I ain’t, it’d take me some time to figure out.

As a child of the Virginia suburbs, I’m still not accustomed to thinking of Baltimore as being as close as it is now that I’m in Silver Spring. An Die Musik book a nice calendar, and though I’ve always lazily put it off as being too far to bother, there’ll be no more of that.

Next month: Akron/Family, again. Are they actually the greatest live band around, right now, or is it that I just haven’t been going out for a couple of years?

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In which I refuse to say things to you

February 7th, 2008 — 11:17pm

A colleague has been pestering me to post here, and I will in order to explain to him why I generally resist.

The personal blog is a flawed metaphor, irreparably so. The statement made by publishing a blog bearing one’s own name is the wrong one, and I regret it entirely, for it implies that this venue is the definitive outlet for any web-hosted writing I should do, of any kind. I figure there to be at least four separate, competing, and mostly incompatible uses (and audiences) for a personal-name blog:

  • diaristic personal musing on one’s life and lunch. I have no cats, and more to the point can’t conceive of an audience that would give a crap. Admittedly, this means I instead inflict those musings on randomly chosen IM-available friends, but that spares the Google user of the future my opinions on today’s veggie combo at Pete’s Diner. There’s no evidence that a ‘blog’ is a better venue for this sort of self-absorbed jibber-jabber than, say ‘twitter’, or just talking to oneself as one walks down the street; at the least these should be segregated on “blogger” where they can be more easily disregarded.
  • Google fodder, wherein unrelated but hopefully useful facts are recorded only so that they can be found later through appropriate keyword searches. I have the most affinity for this category, because I find I so often helpful when other people document their solutions to problems (usually, technical ones), and the audience is not yet known to me, which means I have no reason to dislike them; alternatively, I would write these reference for my future self, whom I like quite a lot (though what’s with the gut, tubby?) Google being Google, these tid-bits could be stashed any-old-where without much loss of findability.
  • Persuasive or analytical essays on professional or personal topics of interest. I freely admit to being the sort of pompous ass who actually thinks “gee, I should be writing more of those” but, audience-wise: huh? Who’d willingly sit through my practice sessions, enduring a thousand words on my opinions on OpenSolaris, or lawlessness and torture, or what-have-you? Luckily I don’t travel by airplane very often, or there would be even more of these hidden away in the queue than there actually are now. At any rate, either such essays would cohere to a specific theme, in which case they probably deserve a venue devoted to the theme, or else they’re just scattershot musings on whatever, in which case: who needs it? Book reviews, too, demand particular mention: given a choice between writing for an hour about a book I read, or just reading another book, it’s really no contest; after all, what do I care if you better yourself? (I am, though, looking for a site somewhat like LibraryThing but more directly suited to keeping track of books one is either reading or planning to read.)
  • The exchange and discussion of ideas with one’s colleagues or peers, through posting and commenting. There’s some minor evidence that blogs can be succesful in this regard, but it’s not at all clear that blogging is a more successful medium in which for people to hash stuff out than, say, “bulletin boards”, which in the modern web-based variant combine the worst aesthetic aspects of the Web itself with the usability of a Fido BBS. As for audience: either it’s work colleagues, in which case I prefer shouting at them over the aforementioned veggie combo, or else it’s personal friends, in which case I generally like them too much to argue about some nonsense.

So. Combining this analysis of my mistake in installing WordPress with the admission that my boy and I are really pretty fixated on Super Mario Galaxy these evenings, I guess I’ve made my position pretty clear, then, huh? Except of course that here I am, writing the third “meta” posting in a row, and using twice as many words as I needed.

Tangentially related: I wonder whether there are formal methods for characterizing modes of communication, by which you could construct a framework in which to usefully compare the zillion awful tools we have available to us in the Y2K8 (email, IM, blogs, wikis, twitter, Post-Its stuck to a rock and thrown through a window) and assess their relative applicability to different uses. ‘Cause that’d help.

Also, seriously, why would Google Docs be unable to push the document’s title to WordPress through the MovableType API?

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