Confronting your ignorance

I like to think of myself as fairly learned.

I have GCSEs, A-Levels, a Degree, a post-graduate diploma. I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts about all manner of things – science, technology, society, design, culture – and I like to read.

But there is loads. Seriously loads that I don’t know. Continue reading

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Making a Maker; Making Me a Maker

First off, credit where credit’s due; the title of this post owes a lot to the title of this book.

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I’ve not finished reading the above book yet (in fact I’m a grand total of eight pages in), but it felt relevant nonetheless.

It’s Sunday night, and I feel like I’ve spent much of the weekend in the world of the Maker. My invention/machine obsessed five year-old (“I’ve been an inventor since I was one!” and witness ‘The Door-Opening Machine’ below) and I went to the Maker Faire UK in Newcastle on Saturday. It was ace. Fascinating, often confusing. But so, so interesting, seeing this stuff people make, or design, or build, that I could not even start to comprehend or work out how to do. I got home and spent the evening going down rabbit-holes of Raspberry Pi (I’m still not sure quite what this is, but it’s awesome, right?), make your own robots, Hackspaces, teach yourself coding and much more besides. Continue reading

The Man, The Myth, The Misty

Chances are that if you follow alternative/indie/folk music with any degree of interest you’ll have spotted a review of Father John Misty’s excellent new album, I Love You, Honeybear. You’ll probably have spotted an interview or two as well. The critical reception has been rapturous, yet conflicted. There are discussions around sentiment and snide-ness, sincerity and irony, humour and, well, just being jerk. I’m not going to talk about that, because this interview here does it all with skill and aplomb, and it’s massive, and in-depth, and, frankly, is better than my dashed off thoughts will be. And actually if you just listened closely to the album you could use your own brain and hear it all yourself. Just click on the album down there…

So, what am I going to do? I’m going to talk myths. Rock myths. Because in both that Grantland article I already posted, and this Picthfork interview something quite interesting gets discussed. We hear, at some length about the origin story of Father John Misty. Continue reading

What drives a man to country?

Right now I’m listening to the lovely new album by Natalie Prass. It’s really rich, lush, heartbreak laden country music. Before that I was probably listening to last year’s gorgeous Beck album, or that soulful Matthew E. White record.

Why am I telling you this? And who are you anyway, dear reader and why on earth would you want to read this? What has me listing albums got to do with anything? I’m telling you this because I’m getting old. My music taste is getting old. I’m a a dad, and I can’t help but feel that my music taste shows this, somehow. Continue reading

A struggle with the internet

I like to think of myself as pretty tech-savvy. I’m the kind of person people will ask if they can’t get their phone to do something, or they want to understand what unique users means and what page impressions means.

I’m in no way a digital expert. I can’t code. I don’t really know html. I know enough to ask annoying questions to web designers, but not to actually do anything with it.

But yeah, I like technology. I use social media, lots of different types of social media. I love that last.fm can track my listening and make recommendations, that I can logon to Google Chrome at work, and the bookmarks and search history with mirror across my iPad and my phone and my home computer. I think the digital world is pretty smart, and full of possibilities and opportunities. But I have a personal struggle with it. It’s about time, capacity and the infinite possibilities the internet creates. Continue reading

Pondering Podcasts

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(Ira Glass, pinched from Lifehacker)

Something’s happened in the world of audio recently. And something’s happened to me. It used to be that every spare minute I’d be listening to music – either discovering something new or returning to a familiar old sound. In the world of Spotify and streaming (I’m a fully paid up subscriber), there is more music available at my finger tips than ever before (or at least there is if I’m near a WiFi connection), but now the options are there, I find my interest consistently takes me somewhere else, somewhere where discovery isn’t a new set of sounds or melodies, but rich narratives, clever sound design and ultra smart story telling.

I’m becoming a podcast addict. Continue reading

David Thomas Broughton, Revisited

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David Thomas Broughton & the Juice Vocal Ensemble at Howard Assembly Room, photo from James Yorkston via http://www.twitter.com/jamesyorkston

I only wrote some words about David Thomas Broughton a few posts back. I don’t want to get into the habit of repetition, or become a David Thomas Broughton tribute blog (though you may argue that if anyone deserves such a thing, it’s DTB), but when I wrote those words, I didn’t know that David Thomas Broughton was returning to Leeds play a gig alongside James Yorkston. I didn’t know his performance would be augmented by the Juice Vocal Ensemble. I didn’t know they’d have an album out. And I certainly didn’t expect the gig to be quite as good as it was.

DTB, the artiste, is, as far as I can tell about three things. 1. crafting and performing beautiful, melodic simple folk songs. 2. taking the songs mentioned in part 1 and distorting and disturbing them, unpacking them to core elements, building them up again in new, different, and odd ways. 3. arresting and eccentric theatrical performance. Continue reading