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Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Countermeasure or Die Geister, die ich rief, werd ich nun nicht los
Right now I am no.7 for this infamous query in some versions of Google. The number of visitors yesterday was 553. Today I already had 568 and there is one more hour to go. Many webmasters would be happy with a similar "popularity" of their site. I am not. I can't read my referrer logs anymore as they are full of people looking for this one word. And those people never comment on my posts, actually most of the others neither, but still. To stop this I renamed my blog today. The three letter word starting my blog name has been replaced by three letters with each of them separated by a blank coded in a special way in between the letters. I hope in this way Google will realise that my blog is not about that three letter word.
On the other hand I am happy that my Google PageRank (can be seen in the toolbar) has risen from 5 to 6 out of a maximum of 10. That is due to the many links I received from outside (thank you to you all) and that is a measure which I still find useful to rate the importance of internet pages.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Connecting to the outside world
- Guardian: Face it - punk was rubbish. Sure, it had energy and attitude. But punk's importance has been hugely exaggerated, says Nigel Williamson, who was there at its birth (via wherever you are).
Mmm. Today I received the Warsaw CD with the early stuff of the band later to be known as Joy Division. The last five bonus tracks were recorded in July 1977 and they are punk as hell. Sounding like a garage version of the early Clash. Especially Ian Curtis shouts his head off. Hooky is already playing the tune (if there is one) with the bass. It was all there already. Ok except Morris magic drumming. The only official Joy Division release missing in my collection now is the Live at the Electric Circus EP from October 1977 with At a Later Date plus tracks by The Fall, The Buzzcocks and other punk bands I don't know. Any idea where I can get it? On CD if possible.
- Interesting graphical metasearch engine linking the result sites in a map: kartoo : les cartes de recherche, An example is "music blog" where Josh (unfortunately still busy in school and therefore on weblog vacation) who inspired me starting a weblog and me are on the same map. I don't know any of the other weblogs on that map though.
- German webloggers unite: Neu im Bloghaus: Bloggerkarte, dem Globe of Blogs nachempfundene schöne Darstellung deutscher Weblogs in einer Deutschlandkarte nach Bundesländern und Orten.

In my car stereo: Tom Waits - Alice (still growing on me)

Monday, May 27, 2002

Why I like depressive music
Sad music has always had the strongest impact of all music on me. I guess it really got started with Nick Drake whom I discovered in the late 70s when his box set Fruit Tree comprising his three studio albums was released in Germany. I made a post on him a while ago (a search should find it but I am too lazy to look it up now). I usually listened to his music on headphones as it was too intimate to be shared with the outside world. He only sang for me with his gentle pure voice and told me about the beauty of life and love and the hopelessness of it all. It was the soundtrack of my growing-up. A 1-1 identification, a comprehension beyond words. After having listened to Nick Drake I did not feel alone in this world anymore. I knew that there had been somebody who had had very similar experiences to my own and who could write and sing about them which I obviously couldn't. It may sound stupid, but he was my teenage the idol of my teenage years.
Later on I listened to Nick Drake with my best friend who was on a similar trip as me. But it wasn't the same anymore. I felt awkward to listen to this music with somebody else. It was almost painful and very uncomfortable. I could not share Nick Drake with anybody else.
The thing with sad music is that I love to listen to it when I am sad and though it does not make me happy it gives me a relief. There is a hidden power in it which gives me strength.
Afterwards I discovered other music in a similar vein but the impression was less intense. Joni Mitchell's incredibly poetic songs, mostly on lost love. The Smiths melancholic tuneful pop songs with their witty and weird adolescent lyrics. Neil Young who made me overcome my first real lovesickness with After the Goldrush. Mark Kozelek from the Red House Painters who sings as if it is his only chance to survive. Idaho's first album Year After Year, another slow dive into darkness. The Tindersticks' First Album full of passion. The Gun Club's energetic psychobilly: Jeffrey Lee Pierce's doomed voice. Joy Division, maybe the climax of it all. Punky and rough in the beginning, gloomy, claustrophobic and atmospheric in the end. I have to stop now, there are so many I have forgotten and go back to the beginning and give the word to
Jody Beth Rosen from Freezing to Death in the Nuclear Bunker who describes the effect of Nick Drake's music better here than I ever could:
"I'm not the most fervent Nick Drake kneejerker, but I've always considered Pink Moon one of those albums -- one of those special, private experiences that signal a communication between someone in distress and another whose ship drowned years ago. It's like drinking tea when you're sick, and you hold the cup to your nose so the steam can come up through your nostrils and make your eyes tear -- that tea is a remedy, it's homeopathy, your best friend when you're grouchy and curled into an antisocial knot left on the sofa to be otherwise choked on by your stupid cat. It's not modern medicine, not a multimillion-dollar miracle of research and development, not shelling out kickbacks to charlatan medics, no apple-cheeked actresses breathing easy on mountaintops as African music zoom-zoom-zooms away. And that's what I find hard to stomach about this Volkswagen business."

To get an impression of sad music just listen to Nick Drake or
Bright Eyes: Haligh, Haligh, A Lie, Haligh (whom I just discovered and whose tortured vocals are sadness in nuce)
More on the still quite young Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes here:
- Bright Eyes: There Is No Beginning to the Story EP: Pitchfork Review (7.4/10)
- ILM: Bright Eyes: Worth a damn?

- Joe Panzner from the Oligarchist Home Journal reviews the soon to be released new Sonic Youth album Murray Street (rating 8.5/10). Excerpt:
"The most immediate difference between Murray Street and Sonic Youth’s post-1990 output is the newfound emphasis on clarity, focus, and outright melody. The guitars, which are every bit as likely now to jangle as they are to clang and buzz, are clean, crisp, and recorded bone-dry in trademark O’Rourke fashion."
- Maybe I should check out the new Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots which is Elasticheart's fave album of 2002 up to now. He says:
"The album is a step beyond what the band reached with "The Soft Bulletin" and blends the creativity and experimentation of that album with some of the catchiest songs I've heard this year."
I preferred "The Soft Bulletin" to Mercury Rev's "Deserter's Songs" which came out at about the time and was in quite a similar style as it was somehow less predictable and more glamorously pop. I saw the Lips live at about the same time and it was one of the weirdest concerts ever with the singer hitting this enormous gong every minute or so and bizarre videoclips being projected on a screen.
- Practical stuff: Why Won't We Read the Manual? (MeFi discussion)

Sunday, May 26, 2002

- I found this by googling "music blog". It covers the music genres I love: Listen Up! collaborative music blog, music recommendations, mp3s, reviews, concerts : rock, pop, alternative, blues, jazz, folk, acoustic
- Kate Guay from Toronto has changed the name and URL of her music weblog: thrown askew: formerly quid pro quo
- For people interested in applied statistics: Journal of Articles in Support of the Null Hypothesis (via Monitor on Psychology), a new journal covering the issue of non-refuted null hypotheses. In statistical studies very often null hypotheses are tested. If the null hypothesis cannot be refuted there is no significant result. Usually these inconclusive tests are not published. But they are actually quite interesting as they give future researchers the information which paths have already been explored without results.
P.S. There is a problem with the Bloglet e-mail subscription of my weblog. Apparently it does not distinguish between only posted and really published posts. So when you get an e-mail from Bloglet it can be that there is nothing new in my blog as I have only posted the entry but not yet published it. I will address this issue to Monsur Hossain who created Bloglet. He has been very helpful in the past.

Thursday, May 23, 2002
scored some points with me today. For the second time they were about to charge me for shipping though I had placed a shipping-free order. It turned out that one of the articles was not in stock, the order fell below the shipping-free threshold of 20 € and in my account it said that I had to pay the 3 € shipping costs. I even tried to change the order and put it together with another open one (with longer delivery time) but it was too late. At eight in the morning I send them an e-mail via their website telling them that I was extremely unsatisfied dissatisfied with their service and that they had lost me as a customer. At ten the excuse e-mail landed in my mailbox and they told me that their system does not handle this case properly and that the 3 € are refunded. Sometimes complaints work. But would they have refunded me without the complaint?

Music link of the day: Short interview with Sonic Youth on the forthcoming release of Murray Street: Sonic Youth Absorbs New Member Naturally (via dj martian)

Results of visitors poll
A while ago I asked you the question: "How dear reader did you get here?"
Thank you very much for the 61 responses. The results are:
- Via a link on another website: 36.07%
- Had your site in my bookmarks/favourites: 21.31%
- Via a search engine looking for the adult word s**: 14.75%
- None of the above: 13.11%
- Won't tell you: 6.56%
- Don't remember: 3.28%
- Via a search engine searching for other things: 3.28%
- Typed your URL in: 1.64%
- Via an email link: 0.00%
I am happy that so many people came via external links or bookmarks/favourites though I am sure that this poll was not representative as I know that in fact most people arriving here look for the word s** which I do not write out anymore in order to get less of those search engine referrers which make the referrer logs almost unreadable and worthless.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Site of the day
Fifty word fiction is a wonderful subpage of the excellent Tangents website ("The home of Un-Popular Culture on the World Wide Web.") which centers around indie and other pop music. The idea is simple. Write a story in fifty words. That is enough for a small plot and a surprise ending. Compact prose for short attention span people like me. I'd love to write one myself soon.
The last mini story is Loop by Ben White:
"You mean it goes around in a loop?"
"Exactly right, a loop, yes."
I looked around the room. It was very small and very bare.
"There's no way out."
"None at all. We're stuck doing the same thing over and over again."
"You mean it goes around in a loop?"

Wir backen uns unsere Lektüre selbst
Für meine deutschen Leser ein Link zum FAZ.NET - Mischpult. Da kann man sich durch Angabe der Ingredienzien eine Büchereinkaufsliste backen. Das geht so: Sprache 100% eigenwillig, 0% unauffällig. Stil: nüchtern 90%, opulent 10%. Tempo: moderat 80%, atemlos 20%. Umfang: <100. Ergebnis:
Das Stottern des Dichters des Königs
Und erzähle uns eine Geschichte: Hans Joachim Schädlich über Leben und Tod des Aesop / Von Kurt Flasch
Schädlich, Hans Joachim: Gib ihm Sprache

Sonnen sammeln
Juan Gelman entdeckt sein sephardisches Erbe
Gelman, Juan: Dibaxu, Debajo, Darunter

Kleidsames Hechtgrau mit schlammgelben Sprengseln
Frostgeschärfte Bilder vom Ersten Weltkrieg. Thomas Klings Gedichtband "Fernhandel" · Burkhard Müller
Kling, Thomas: Fernhandel

Na ja. Wohl eher ein Gadget. Aber lustig wars.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

- You want to get rid of some of your old CDs and get some "new" ones for them? Try the Musical Swap Shop (via NYLPM)
- Three full concerts as mp3s: My Bloody Valentine [on komakino fanzine]
- 10 mp3 remixes of songs of the last REM album including artwork: R.E.M.ix (both via prolific)

- - Google Demos: "Google labs showcases a few of our favorite ideas that aren't quite ready for prime time." Current demos:
Google Glossary. Find definitions for words, phrases and acronyms (quite useful, even including jokes)
Google Sets. Automatically create sets of items from a few examples (e.g. type in two car brands and Google will tell you some more car brands, not really exciting, does not always work)
Voice Search. Search on Google by voice with a simple telephone call (gadget for people who can't type)
Keyboard Shortcuts. Navigate search results without using your mouse (for the geeks who still hate the mouse, can be useful when your mouse is dead)

Monday, May 20, 2002

Early Joy Division
I posted the following message to the I Love Music discussion forum today:
"It was a sunny public holiday (Pentecost) today in Frankfurt and as so often on bright days I felt like relistening to one of my fave (not so sunny) bands: Joy Division.
I started with the first four tracks on the third disc of "Heart and Soul" which are identical to the "An Ideal for Living" EP recorded in December 1977. The tracks are: "Warsaw", "No Love Lost", "Leaders of Men" and "Failures" (the weakest of the four songs). And suddenly two things I hadn't noticed too much before struck me:

1. Ian Curtis does not sing in his grave mannered graveyard voice, he sings more "naturally" (one could say human) and
2. Joy Division sound much rougher, punkier and more energetic than on the later studio albums produced by Martin Hannett. There is hardly any trace of this gothic, claustrophobic and oppressing sound for which they became known later on and which turned me off initially when I discovered them about ten years ago.

The following three songs on disc 3 of "Heart and Soul" ("The Drawback", "Interzone" and "Shadowplay") which stem from the RCA LP later released under the name Warsaw produced by JD and others neither have the classic JD sound. The same is true for the first BBC session for the John Peel show from January 1979. Though Curtis has already changed his voice to lower spookier registers on the last song "Transmission". On the live recordings, especially "Les Bains Douches" from December 1979 JD are punkier and more dynamic but Curtis sings low as well.
My question: Does anyone know how much Hannett is responsible for these two major changes in JD's music, namely the lower singing of Curtis and the less edgy, more controlled and more lugubrious sound for which they became famous? How much did Hannett influence the (tragic) direction JD took later on? Looking at the artwork of the two studio albums designed by Peter Saville I ask myself how much it expressed how Hannett wanted the band to be and how much it reflected JD themselves. Especially the cover of "Closer" seems to be very artificial and premeditating. I quote Momus "Thought for the Day" here:
"Already posthumous when released, Peter Saville's sleeve for Joy Division's 'Closer' shows a necrophile scene of sorrowful keening cast in marble. Death becomes part of the album's power, a part of its marketing."
I'd also like to know if there are live bootlegs flying around from before the recording of "Unknown Pleasures" in April 1979. By the way I think I prefer their early, unpolished, thrashier intonation and sound which was probably more intense though maybe a little less unique than their later one."
Answers can be found here.

Sunday, May 19, 2002

- Rory from Records ad Nauseam' with a glowing review of Luna's latest: Romantica. Apparently they resume the sound of the glorious days of Bewitched.
- New Order's rather new single Here to Stay another return to form? (by acb from the null device)
- Great long article on the Paisley Underground in PopMatters: Tell Me When It's Over

Saturday, May 18, 2002

British Sea Power is a rather new band from Brighton I had only heard from hearsay. There are two mp3 tracks on their site (via the Dutch connection prolific). The first one The Spirit of St. Louis is a dark, angry post-punk song sounding like a crossover of Gang of Four and Gallon Drunk. The Lonely is totally different, a tuneful, light and rather sunny ballad in the vein of what the Australian Apartments did about 8 years ago. Apparently their live shows are quite wild . A band to watch. I started a thread at ILM on them. Short Motion review of their three song EP Remember Me.

One of the best bands in the world
PopMatters Concert Review of Giant Sand at the Knitting Factory April, 12th by Jody Beth Rosen from Freezing to Death... who just linked back to me. Thank you Jody. Quote:"He (Howe Gelb), as headliner, has a certain poise suggesting that even if you're not witnessing genius in action, you can at least see that an elemental layer of bullshit has been stripped away; now we're getting down to business."

Friday, May 17, 2002

I am so vain
My comments on G. Marcus half-baked review of Wilco's masterpiece Yankee Hotel Foxtrot were noticed by Nate Patrin and Andreas Kellers, thank you so much:
- Hipster Detritus (May 11th): "Remember a few days ago at how I sneered at Greil Marcus for his review of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (almost spelled 'Foxtron'- sounds like Rupert Murdoch's world domination robot)? This guy sneers better."
- Wortmetz: "Und auch Hr. Fritz geizt nicht mit Links. Dazu eine Metarezension, die in einer bissigen Verschränkung der Review von Greil Marcus' im Salon mit seinen Kommentaren einmündet." (sorry for the German quote but I think this is not translatable)

By the way has anybody got an idea how to find out when another site links to you and especially to a post on your blog? I study my referrers via sitemeter and check the links to my site from blogdex and daypop who both crawl the weblogs daily or even more frequently but this is not sufficient exhaustive I feel. Concerning sitemeter I can miss a referrer (only the last 100 are stored) or a link may never be clicked on. Daypop only finds links to blogs which have been added (manually) to its index whereas blogdex somehow finds the weblogs itself though I did not yet understand how, but it is not complete neither. The Google backlinks are not so useful as they are always quite dated (monthly update?) and can not be ordered by date.

I throw 'em, you catch 'em (the links I mean)
- Another weblog concentraing on pop and indie music: Freezing to Death in the Nuclear Bunker
- ILM discussion I joined which went off towards general Americana/alt-country: Wilco, C or D? S D?
- Shakey: Neil Young's Biography. . . (MeFi). One question discussed here: Why are most fans of Neil Young men?
- Dave's Quick Search Taskbar Toolbar Deskbar: I still use the Google toolbar but this little thingy is a serious contender for the throne of toolbars. I like the idea to add (special) characters after the search terms to specify if a search engine, thesaurus, dictionary, telephone lookup etc. will be used. The syntax is easy and searches are fast.
- Die Internetadresse für die Internetsüchtigen: HSO e.V. Die erste Selbsthilfegruppe für Onlinesuchtgefährdete in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Eine Sucht ist eine Krankheit.

The Morning News - Ten Great Beatles Moments (details there)
1. ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ (1963)
2. The ‘middle-eight’ on ‘And I Love Her’ (1964)
3. George Harrison’s sitar accompaniment on ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’ (1965)
4. ‘A Day in the Life’ (1967)
5. ‘I Am the Walrus’ (1967)
6. Side two of the White Album (1968)
7. The guitar lick at the end of ‘Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey’ and the piano melody on ‘Sexy Sadie’ (1968)
8. George Harrison’s guitar solo on ‘Something’ (1969)
9. The Abbey Road medley (1969)
10. ‘You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)’ (1970)

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

- Philosophical health check. My tension quotient was a rather low 13% (average 27%). Only two contradictions:
What is faith? You disagreed that:
It is quite reasonable to believe in the existence of a thing without even the possibility of evidence for its existence
But agreed that:
Atheism is a faith just like any other, because it is not possible to prove the non-existence of God
and What should be legal?
You agreed that:
The government should not permit the sale of treatments which have not been tested for efficacy and safety
And also that:
Alternative and complementary medicine is as valuable as mainstream medicine

Music pointers
- Plattentests, deutsches Musikforum
- interesting French music zine: NEW FORMS - Musiques électroniques alternatives (trip-hop, drum'n'bass, electronica...)
- Rough Guide to Music (found it when looking for a review on the new Edwyn Collins. What struck me was that the review seemed to be honest. It was negative.)
Glorious Noise:
Interview with Jay Bennent and The Jay Bennett track-by-track listing of instruments played on YHF.
ILM discussions:
- Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (nice thoughts by Lou near the end)
- Yo La Tengo - The Sound of the Sound of Science (10MB mp3 available, album is distributed via their site, instrumental soundtrack to underwater documentaries)
- I Love Music/I Love Everything community front page with a search box and links to the weblogs of some contributors

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Daily faves
- Discussion: Plastic: 500 Questions To Ask Before You Ask, 'Will You Marry Me?'
- Online book resource: Blackmask Online organised in a directory (via robotwisdom)
- Book list: Daily Telegraph's 100 novels of 1899 (ca. 50% online, via robotwisdom)
- Quiz: Which Pixies song are you? I am Monkey Gone to Heaven!
- Joke:
How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?
How many can you afford?

via (Life As It Happens)

Rolling Stone: New Voices #52
The monthly compilation CD by the German Rolling Stone arrived today. 16 tracks. A selection:
Archive: Numb (from You All Look the Same to Me)
It starts with the drum machine. One guy singing "I put a hole through you. You put a hole through me", the other one repeating "Numb". A track like a "descent into the maelstrom", getting darker and darker. Bluesier and bluesier. Trip-hop meets shoegazing. Massive Attack meets My Bloody Valentine. A whirl swallowing the listener. I am a psychedelic addict.
Breeders: Off You (from Title WK))
Almost ten years after the Last Splash. After several withdrawal treatments the Deal twins are back. From power indie pop to minimal slow-motion guitar pop. Kim Deal's voice more fragile than ever. The Breeders have aged well. A movingly sad comeback like under barbiturates. They have got all the time of the world. "I am the autumn and the scarlet. I am the make-up on your eyes".
Chuck Prophet: That's How Much I Need Your Love (from No Other Love)
Ex-Green On Red guitarist in a Western soundtrack. "If I was a Cadillac you'd be my driving wheel". Sliding into Thereminia. Fuzzy keyboards leading us into an American desert. We don't need water there.
Edwyn Collins: Back to the Back Room (from Doctor Syntax)
Another long time no see. Edwyn the Scottish indie pop crooner is back as well. It was worth the wait. "Operating in the vacuum". Exquisite as always.

Catching up with the backblogs
- Toddlike's Worthless Music Review Blog on Brian Jonestown Massacre, Merzbow and more interesting music off the beaten track.
- gstring: for the discerning music nut. Music news from Melbourne. Don't look for Britney Spears and Boyzone here.
- Hipster Detritus: A Blog. ILM contributor Nate Patrin's music blog. Nate likes punk, new wave, indie and lots of other good music.
- Nanoblogg, Stefan's German music weblog on electronica and other indie music.
- ::indie tunes. i can't live without music. Jana, 20, studying Philosophy and German language and literature studies (Germanistik in German) in Erlangen near Nuremburg. German posts on Tocotronic, The Strokes etc.
- : Weblog BookWatch with the most linked to books in the weblog world on Amazon. A similar service is offered by Daypop: Amazon Wishlist Top 40.

Saturday, May 11, 2002

Reviewing a review
I received the new Wilco CD from Amazon this morning together with Houellebecq's first novel to exceed the 20 € shipping costs limit. Quite a good performance by Amazon. I had placed the order on Thursday 14h29, they sent it out yesterday 17h53 and it arrived this morning around 10. Even though I was not always happy with them in the past there is no doubt that Amazon is one of the best online shops.
So right now I am listening to Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot for the third time. I had very high expectations concerning that album after what I had read in Badger's blog, at Pitchfork and in the German Rolling Stone. And I have to say that I am not disappointed. A rock album with a song mentioning Jesus (cf. the 3rd VU, the first two House of Loves, Cohen's 1st, Big Star's last, Tom Waits' "Bone Machine", Giant Sand's "Chore", Nirvana's "Unplugged" etc.) very often is a milestone. I was afraid that Tweedy's voice which I found a little feeble after 2-3 mp3s and some clips of Wilco songs I had listened to before would put me off but it doesn't at all. YHF is a real album which should be listened to from beginning to end. The last album in a similar vein I know was Blur's excellent somber "13" from 1999. Though YHF is a little softer and I don't know if Tweedy is coming to terms with the end of a relation like Albarn was. YHF is not about sunshine neither and seems very controlled in places. I haven't found a really weak track, the outstanding one after the first listens is obviously the pop gem "Heavy Metal Drummer" followed closely by the sentimental closer "Reservations" which hits a similar chord in me as "All Across the Universe" by The Beatles. The record has nothing to do with alt-country anymore which is a good thing in my eyes. It is slightly experimental guitar-driven pop with Jim O'Rourke (from Tortoise who is a full band member of Sonic Youth now) responsible for the mix and electronics.

Actually I am getting carried away here. I didn't want to write a review. How could I after only three listens. I wanted to comment on a review by one of the foremost rock critics, Greil Marcus who subtitled his latest "Real Life Rock Top 10" column in Salon:
Wilco signify something...
I am curious what uncle Greil will tell us about Wilco's long-awaited new album on CD, its message and the meaning of the music.
The cover features photos of Chicago skyscrapers,
Thanks a bunch I thought those were huts in the African bush.
and the first four words, "I am an American,"
That sounds very promising. Like the beginning of an in-depth analysis of the lyrics. Go on Greil.
are the same as those of Saul Bellow's 1953 "The Adventures of Augie March":
Isn't he smart this man? He is not only an expert of rock but also of literature. Chapeau!
"Chicago born," Bellow
The connection to the cover. That's brilliant.
said after a comma: "aquarium drinker," Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy says without one.
That's what I call deep insight into rock. As a rock critic you have to be meticulous. How could anyone take you seriously if you'd skip a punctuation mark? The difference between literature and rock is a comma. It's easy. That must have taken a lot of scientific research. One small annotation: didn't Bellow write that? And didn't a character in the book say it? Didn't know Bellow said it as well. But I trust you Greil. Last question: did Bellow say the comma as well?
But Augie March knew how to walk against the wind on the streets, to go right past you with such force you turned around and watched his back, wondering who he was --
The literature pope speaks. He knows a lot about me. Didn't know I would try to watch the back of Augie March. Usually backs don't turn me on. Never heard of that character neither. Have you? Do you watch backs?
while Tweedy's singing, never strong,
Objection, your honour! That is a subjective statement which is not founded on any evidence. I bet Tweedy sings better than you Mr Marcus. At least you have almost arrived to the object of your review, the music, now.
here recedes into a dithering miasma apparently meant to signify thinking it all over,
What a careful choice of exquisite words in the first half of the quote. I'll try to remember "miasma" for my next review. It sounds very cool and clever. Even after looking it up it doesn't make sense to me here. Plus the key to the interpretation of the record. Marcus can read minds. But isn't too sure. Why "apparently"? If I understand well, according to Marcus with his way of singing Tweedy wants to show that he isn't too sure neither. Of what? Of anything! That's a strong philosophical statement, but a genius like Marcus can't be wrong, can he?
plus sound effects apparently meant to signify the modern world.
That's one "apparently" too much, isn't it? Marcus is losing the ground under his feet. But we are in the modern world. So maybe that's understandable. How old are you Greil?
In other words, it isn't against the law to redo "Revolver",
100% agreement here. That could have been the beginning of a nice adequate praise of this album, but I am a dreamer, I guess. YHF as the "Revolver" of the zero years would have been a little over the top nevertheless, I suppose.
but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. Especially if you're an American.
And you record in Chicago. That's missing, Mr Marcus. It would have been so nice to close the circle.

Thank you very much for this amazing piece of critic Mr Marcus. I think you have almost arrived to the perfect rock review here. You could just try to write a little less about the music next time, couldn't you?

Thursday, May 09, 2002

Could you tell me something?
On Tuesday I had 291 visitors. Unbelievable. I'd like to know more about you. Could you do me the favour of answering this small little poll? Thanks a lot in advance.
Visitors poll
How dear reader did you get here?

We all come from somewhere.

Via a search engine looking for the adult word s**
Via a search engine searching for other things
Via a link on another website
Had your site in my bookmarks/favourites
Via an email link
Typed your URL in
Don't remember
Won't tell you
None of the above

The Big Lie
Interessante nonkonformistische Gedanken von Adam Curry (US-stämmiger Fernseh- und Radiomoderator, der in Amsterdam lebt und dort mehrere Medienprojekte gestartet hat) zu Pim Fortuyn und zu der fragwürdigen Medienberichterstattung über seine Ermordung. War er nun ein extremer Rechter oder nicht? Glaubwürdiger als Le Pen, Haider, Berlusconi und Konsorten war er in jedem Fall. Und toleranter als der von ihm angeprangerte Islam wohl auch. Ein Satz wie: "Wie können Sie eine Kultur respektieren, wo die Frau einige Schritte hinter ihrem Mann gehen muss, in der Küche zu bleiben und ihren Mund zu halten hat?" ist zumindest nachvollziehbar, insbesondere von einem Schwulen. Denn Homosexuelle wurden von Muslimen als "niedriger als Tiere" bezeichnet. Fortuyn war sicherlich eine interessante schillernde Figur mit Charisma, die sich getraut hat Dinge zu sagen, die die meisten sowieso denken, die aber nicht immer politically correct waren. Davon gibt es wenige in der Politik und in Zukunft wohl noch weniger. Wäre ich eine, dann würde ich es mir jedenfalls zweimal überlegen in die Politik zu gehen. Politik ist lebensgefährlich für solche Leute. Stromlinienförmige umfragebesessene Typen wie Schröder und GW Bush, die ohne ihre Berater Schaufensterpuppen wären, sind da wohl einfach besser aufgehoben.

Edited translation to English from Babelfish:
Interesting nonconformistic thoughts by Adam Curry (television and radio moderator, stemming from the US and living in Amsterdam, where he has started several media ventures) on Pim Fortuyn and the dubious media coverage of his murder. Was he extreme right-wing or not? He was in any case more credible than Le Pen, Haider, Berlusconi and the likes. And he was almost certailnly more tolerant than the islam he denounced. A sentence like: "How can you respect a culture if the woman has to walk several steps behind her man, has to stay in the kitchen and keep her mouth shut?" is at least comprehensible especially when said by a gay. Gays have been proclaimed as "lower than pigs" by muslims. Fortuyn was surely an interesting multi-faceted figure with charisma. He dared to say things, most thought anyways, which were however not always politically correct. There are few politicians like that and probably even less in the future. If I would be one, then I would think twice before going into politics. Politics can be lethal for such people. Streamlined poll-obsessed guys such as Schroeder and GW Bush who would be dummies without their advisor stuff are probably much better suited for politics.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Those were the times days
How many Eurostat "experts" does it take to change a light bulb?
Twenty-one. One to stand holding it, and twenty to drink until the room spins around.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Various stuff
- Making Insomnia Fun Again is another good indie music blog. It features a lot of mp3 links.
- I have to read the following discussion at kuro5hin to brush up my knowledge of music theory: introduction to basic music composition (via null device)
- The whole text of a book by Peter McWilliams on how to cure a malady which afflicts me from time to time: Heal Depression. My current treatment of this nuisance is to sleep less. 6 hours are enough I think. It makes me a little psyched and hyperactive but I prefer that to being paralysed in a depression.

All you want to know about Google
- Today I asked a strange question on the very active and useful Webmasterworld forum about Google:
"My blog is currently #17 on the search query "s e x" (without the blanks) at Google. Unsurprisingly about 95% of my Google referrers and maybe close to 90% of all referrers come to my site looking for the word in question. Therefore my referrer stats are almost unreadable as they are flooded by "s e x"-referrers. Is there a way to tell Google that my site should not show up in the results for the single word query "s e x"? " I didn't get the answer I wanted but I have to say that those people are very nice. If you have questions concerning Google here is where to go.
Via the PageRank Site Value Chart on their site I also found out that my little blog which has a Google PageRank of 5 is worth $1,000-$50,000. The upper limit is quite a lot of dough though I think the value of a blog is closer to the lower limit as it stems mainly from other blogs linking to it and the commercial relevance is rather negligible.
And someone proposed a statistical distribution of the PageRanks: const*exp(-k*PR) with k chosen by the Google guys. Interesting stuff I have to delve into deeper when I am less tired.

Blogger Insider
I am a little late on the latest round of Blogger Insider questions. The questions from Laughing Muse (the answers to my questions to him her will be on his her site) date from April 17th. But I had a reason. I did not have access to my pop3 e-mail account in Greece. Let's go.

Q1: You're thinking of switching to a new blogging tool - which one, and why? (I ask because I'm one of those odd folks who runs a nonstandard blog script off of her own server.)
A: From the start I have been using Blogger, the most widespread blogging tool available. I used it as it was piss-easy to get started but realized after a while that in the end using it involves a lot of work as there are many features missing in Blogger and I had to get them from other free available sources. Examples are a search, a referral tracker, a comment system, an e-mail notification service, polls, a ping bookmarklet etc. Additionally Blogger is not always reliable (esp. the free version I guess) and pages load quite slowly (maybe because I am in Germany?). Other areas where Blogger has problems: archive links are lost often when publishing, publishing is not always available etc.
I want to move to Antville, a weblogging tool from Austria mainly used by German speakers. To create a weblog there is even easier than with Blogger. You just choose a URL which is still available, a user id and a password and that's about it. Weblogs are hosted on Antville. I really like about Antville that it is much more communicative than Blogger in its design. There is an integrated commentary system and there is a section called "recently modified" in the sidebar which gives you the latest changes/additons to the weblog be them posts (in Antville called stories) or comments. You can also have a completely open collective weblog where everyone registered can write stories (like in Blogger). Additionally you can create topics to order your stories by subject. A search which also searches the comments is integrated as well. The referrers of the last 24 hours are accessible. You can post your own images or media files which reside on Antville. A new feature is the automatic pinging of which is very useful for readers if they use a weblog monitor like where they have created their own blogroll with the last updated weblogs on top of the list. Polls are integrated as well. These are just the easily usable features. The layout of the weblog can be changed with the so-called skins. Macros can be programmed (don't know really what they do but anyways).
In one sentence Antville integrates the most important features of a weblog seamlessly whereas Blogger is very crude in comparison and blogs at Blogger become patchworks if you want to have all these options. Antville weblogs load much faster because of that as well. And they are free of course like standard Blogger.
The only two things I would be missing right now are an e-mail notification service for the readers if a new story has been posted and a bookmarklet which lets you post links easily like in Blogger. In the standard Antville weblog you still have to type your tags yourself. The only reasons I haven't moved yet are my laziness and my vanity as "s e x and sunshine" is known in the music weblog circles.

Q2: What's your first conscious memory that focussed on, or included, music? Why the "music blog" focus?
A: Don't remember my first conscious memory of music. Probably a Christmas carol or something stupid like that. My relation to music is almost purely passive. I am a listener but not a composer or interpret of music. I never played an instrument though in my family (including uncles, aunts and cousins) most people play instruments and classical music is quite important. I think with my blog I want to compensate for my unmusicality. As I am unable to make music I want to describe it and put it into words. To grasp it by transforming it into language. Though this is really hard as well and I hardly ever succeed. Maybe the focus is on music as I am an auditive person. Sounds and voices have always touched me much more than images. They have a depth to them which has an immediate impact on my inner self whereas images mostly leave me cold and I usually find them superficial. I really hate TV by the way but I like movies in the cinema.

Q3: "s e x and sunshine" - sounds like a new kind of bar drink ;-> How did you come up with the name for your site?
A: Nice question. My favourite cocktail is "Blue Lagoon" by the way. I think I have answered it in one of the first posts of my weblog: "But actually THE reason for calling this "s e x and sunshine" is that this can be abbreviated to SAS and this stands for at least two totally different things. One of the two can give you a clue about my studies and work. All the above is of course bollocks. I chose s e x and sunshine as name for the blog as I hope to attract much more traffic with such a fancy and slightly frivolous title."

Q4: What's the best personality test you've taken? The worst? (Use your own criteria for this one - just define them a little bit for us.)
A: Another short question which hits the nail. I like that. My favourite was the first one I took on the internet where I happened to be a painting of Monet. Different shadings of blue and a little blurred. Flowers floating on a pond. The worst was probably "Which rock chick are you?". My criterium is the result of the test. If I don't like it the test is bad. I don't care for the questions. They can be stupid as hell. I usually forget them immediately afterwards anyways.

Q5: Reality TV - innovative marketing ploy or sign of the apocalypse? Which show(s) (if any) did you watch?
None. Big Brother was a big thing in Germany a couple of years ago but I already had abolished my tv. I think reality shows are just the logical further development of tv. The tv audience is curious and the actors in the shows are vain. What a perfect combination. It didn't last long though.

Q6:The RIAA - careful corporate citizen, just another business, or rabid bunch of troglodytes out of touch with technology?
That's the music business isn't it? Never cared really but good music can be published anywhere. On a major or at home.

Q7:Do you own any albums in more than two formats? (Not counting self-made CDs or tapes).
Not so many actually as I am a miser. On vinyl and CD I have Nick Drake's "Five Leaves Left" and "Pink Moon", Joni Mitchell's "Blue", "Hejira" and "The Hissing of Summer Lawns". Brian Eno's "Before and After Science", Keith Jarrett's "Sun Bear Concerts" and Giant Sand's "Chore of Enchantment". Maybe some more but those are the most important.

Q8: Was your first language English, or German? Just out of curiosity, why do some of your blog entries appear in one language, some in another (with no translations?)
Thanks for the compliment. I write this weblog in English to practice the language. I always loved English as I found it much more succinct and to the point than German. I also write this weblog in English to conceal how bad my German is ;-). At least in comparison to Goethe's. But I am 100% German. I also hesitate to move to Antville as in Antville I will definitely have to write in German and will lose my small but dear audience I have gained here. But I really want to write in German. But I am afraid that the emptiness of most of my posts will become much more evident in German. The personal sometimes almost philosophical posts here have mostly been in German. I wrote them in German as I couldn't have written them in my poor English. There is Babelfish for that ;-). German is my mother tongue and I can obviously express nuances much better in it. My English will always be superficial I guess.

Q9: How are you enjoying Chiros? We want a post card!!!
Chios is a good place to forget the world around you. Like Hydra was for Leonard Cohen in the 60s/70s. In terms of square miles it is about as big as Berlin, but outside the capital there are maybe 10,000 inhabitants. The Northwest is almost unpopulated. Most villages there are deserted. Chios has suffered a lot of a Turkish massacre in 1822 when 10,000s were murdered. If you are looking for loneliness you can find it there. And sea and sun (the light is very bright) and wind and quite barren mountains of course. Not to forget the cats.

I really enjoyed the questions Laughing Muse. Sorry it's late and I can't hold my promise. I will send you my questions tomorrow. For sure.

Monday, May 06, 2002

Back from life to reality
Today was my first day at work after three wonderful weeks on Chios and Samos in the East Aegean. The bright light of the sun has been replaced by the glowing monitor. The clear blue sea by the pouring rain (at least on Saturday). The chaotic hooting traffic with zillions of motorbikes and mopeds coming from nowhere by a traffic like a silent movie with actors as disciplined as robots. I was in between Germans speaking my language again after having not met one single German on the whole trip. This has never happened to me before on a holiday. I was taken for a Norwegian by the Norwegians on Chios and the Dutch on Samos talked in Dutch to me which I don't understand. When I entered the gate of my employer with my huge (in comparison to the Suzukis and Daewoos I had driven in Greece) Passat station wagon for a moment I thought what would happen if they had sacked me. A very worrying and liberating thought at the same time. Like the last revolt before accepting the fact that the holidays were over. I am writing this sitting on my new orthopedic "Balance" swivel chair at home. Its seat topples sideways and back and forth which is supposed to be good for my bad back. A strange a little unstable feeling in the beginnng but I am getting used to it and I think the 500+ € were a good investment.

Sunday, May 05, 2002

The origins of chess
I read in Der Spiegel that Renate Syed, an indologist from Munich has found evidence for the theory that chess actually comes from India and originated as a war practice game called caturanga around 450 AD. The pawns were the infantry, the rooks were bronze chariots with archers, the bishops were war elephants, the knights were obviously horses and the queen used to be the minister who only moved one field diagonally like a handicapped king. The Indian king of Kanauj gave the game of chess without the rules as a present in the sixth century to the king of Persia to test his intelligence. The Arabs conquered Persia later on and spread the game of chess around the world. They gave the queen the long radius it has now as their armies were dominated by many fast moving horses and mounted camels.

A rose is a rose is a rose
The Covers Project has catalogued 11,000 song covers. They are looking for the longest cover chain. A cover chain is something like artist A has covered a song of artist B who has covered a song of artist C etc. The longest chain up to now includes 66 songs. From the Smashing Pumpkins cover of "A Night Like This" by The Cure to The Funkmeister G song "Who got the Fonk?" covered by Cavort With Whores. Never heard of that band so this sounds like a dead-end. But there are surely more covers of Smashing Pumpkins songs (to extend the chain) than the two mentioned here though none comes to my mind immediately. The most covered band are obviously The Beatles (453 covers) and the most covered song is of course "Yesterday" (58 versions). You can add a cover song if you wish.

Some things I don't/didn't like about Amazon
- Some time ago they charged me for shipping though I had placed a shipping-free order. It was their fault they didn't have a CD in stock and my order was suddenly below the shipping-free threshold.
- I wrote a review for Amazon and had to accept their conditions which said (apparently this has changed) that reviews you write for them become their intellectual propriety and they do not even guarantee to cite your name. Of course they can also censor or edit your review. This was one reason to start this weblog.
- When putting a commentary to an album on my wishlist they did not let me use the words "fucked up" as they think this is inappropriate language. "Fucked up" is usually a praise in my book.
- Probably this is not their fault but why can't I find the new Paul Auster The Book of Illusions in English which is already translated into French as Le Livre des Illusions on their site? The plot sounds very promising. Existential in the vein of the New York Trilogy after what I heard.


Copyright 2001, 2002 Alexander Fritz
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