cartoons & classics

Want to save this amazing twitter thread of classical music in cartoons for a few reasons:

One, it shows how much music we miss in music school (Juventino Rosas!?!! I would have assigned that tune to Strauss or Mozart in a second) that was popular and in use at the time;

Two, how musical affect is generated: Grieg being used for tension goes back generations, but each generation gets its own coding of these pieces to images (e.g. Wagner and “Kill the wabbbbit!”, which means that I don’t take that bit of Wagner particularly seriously).

solar protocol is very nice: websites co-hosted around the world, with servers that might go down if there is not enough light.

I have been thinking about self-hosted peer-to-peer websites along these lines. When my computer is on, traffic hits my computer. When my machine is off, lighter versions of my website are cached on nearby computers. This obvious does not scale, but maybe that is the point?

lavender laroux jules verne

She’s a floof, a tiny floof, folks.


I am very skeptical / confused / old-man-ish about NFTs, blockchains, and so forth, but Amulet is very, very nice: poems that have repeating numeral 8s in their hash.

the gutenberg game

I just finished the excellent The Printing Press As An Agent of Change, by Elizabeth Eisenstein, and wanted to get down a few notes about it so I do not forget them.

There’s a good summary here, and two good (though old) interviews here and here.

  • Many historians don’t think the printing press was that important; Eisenstein obviously disagrees.
  • Eisenstein thinks McLuhan had good ideas, but thinks he was a bad historian (which seem reasonable to me).
  • Before the printing press in 1450, everything was spectacularly different. To wit:
    • Books were so rare as to be nonexistent – a scholar had to travel to the books, not the other way around
    • Books were copied by hand, by scribes. This lead to endless mistakes and slow-burning corruption of information – especially tables of data for, say, astronomy.
    • Images could not be recreated reliably – so no maps, no anatomy drawings, etc.
  • Early print culture had problems with incorrect versions of books (Aristotle, say) being published. This would sometimes last for several generations before the data could be corrected.
  • Luther’s 95 Theses were, of course, spread by print – but Luther did not publish them himself.
  • The Catholic Church did not want laypeople reading the Bible, period – the Protestant Church wanted people reading the Bible in their own languages. You can draw a large number of conclusions about the overall cultures of Protestant vs Catholic countries from this statement, many of which will probably be exaggerated – but it is still a profound difference.
  • Other religious heresies lasted longer, got to more people, and generally had more impact after print than before print
  • Printing, specifically reading the Bible in the vernacular may have led directly to witch hunts.
  • The previous European “Renaissances” failed because they lacked printing. The Italian Renaissance worked because of printing.
  • Early print shops were hubs of knowledge, technical skill, and information exchange – sometimes associated with universities, sometimes not – but generally bringing together smart and forward-thinking people.
  • Being able to spread and compare knowledge very quickly had a massive impact on the early modern world.


Brought to you by the letter M: mending, magic, music.


We are, it turns out, going to sing it again. 2021, here goes.

2020: albums of the year

Less albums this year, oddly enough, but not unimportant for all that.

Górecki – Symphony No. 3
Beth Gibbons & Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki

I can’t remember where I first saw that this version had been recorded, with Portishead’s Beth Gibbons on vocals … but I ended up listening to this basically every day through the March & April lockdown in New York, checking the statistics, and watching the red lines go up and up and up. I only had one or two days of hearing too many ambulances, but those days were enough for me.

Sarah Davachi – Cantus, Descant
Davachi’s utterly beautiful album of organ drones and subtleties is basically the sort of bath you take after after a long and difficult day – or perhaps year.

London Is The Place For Me – Volumes 4 through 8
I got the remaining editions of this masterful collection on a Bandcamp Friday in the summer, and they’re incredible. A “window through time to London” is a trite statement, but that’s what you get.

Ana Roxanne – Because Of A Flower

Just gorgeous – not as bath-like as the Davachi album, (there’s a beat or two, even), but a really excellent record.

Honorable mentions to the psychedelic peaks of Primal Forms by Shackleton & Zimpel, the euphoria of ford’s The Color Of Nothing, Bohannon’s endlessly groovy Keep On Dancing, and the seismic K.O. by Miss Red.

2020: sets of the year

You’d think that a year of never leaving the house would result in me clocking in the DJ sets – but I ended up buying endless tunes instead. This list is slim pickings, but no less tasty pickings for that.

Laraaji – RA 733

I also didn’t think that a new age set with people laughing in it would end up being one of my go-to pieces of music for staying calm in the fast / slow stress drumbeat of 2020, but here we are.

Ben UFO – Live @ Nowadays, 01-18-2020

Yep – five hours of the live set of the previously mentioned best show of the year. Comprehensively excellent.

Yu Su – Virtually Nowadays

Another masterpiece of Vancouver-esq grooves. Like her live set that I spoke about last year, this one sounds like the rain coming down during a walk away on 12th Street – but much more relaxed, and thus perfect for 2020.

Shout to Riobamba for her Virtually Nowadays set, and to Duane Harriot for his collection of Prince rareties and jams on the same.

2020: concerts of the year

Once again, very little to talk about here, but two big NYC shows:

Dvořák 9 at NY Phil

Dudamel! What a guy. This one started with Ives and a contemporary piano concerto by Esteban Benzecry which was pretty good … but Dudamel leading an ultra-controlled romp through “From the New World” was a spectacle. There are obviously big tunes and big hits in that symphony, but Dudamel pulled out the harmony, the middle voices, and the little things, which just made the spotlight melodies better.

West Side Story

The Van Hove / De Keersmaeker production had some odd moments, and suffered a bit from the tunefulness of Bernstein’s score (e.g. “Jet Song”) not matching the deep-Queens grit of the staging. However! The dancing was fantastic, the cast got across the idea that these characters are teenagers making tragic choices, and most of the score still holds up – especially “Cool”, “America”, “Something’s Coming”, and the somehow still underrated tritone resolution in “Mariiiiiiiiaaa”.