Friday, May 29, 2009

It's Friday. Let's Boogie!

No Money at All, Brendan Croker

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Primavera Profile 2009 #1: My Bloody Valentine

Almost 2 decades after its release the legendary “Loveless” is still gaining ground and going down as one of the most beautiful and lethal records ever made. The swan song of My Bloody Valentine, the opus magna in which Kevin Shield gave himself almost completely, has been revived thanks to a re-mastering by Shields himself from the original analogical tapes. Maybe the new edition has not solved the chilling mystery of an album, milestone of noise-pop, in which the guitars sound like jet engines, crystalline fragility meets teasing shoegaze and noise acquires a new artistic and sound dimension, but at least it has kept My Bloody Valentine on the road. So, after testing the eardrums of European and American audiences last summer, the electronic dreamers land in the Estrella Damn Primavera Sound 2009 for two concerts, one in the Auditori del Fòrum (friday 29th of may) where their supersonic sound promises to cause real havoc and another on an outdoor stage (thursday 28th of may).

My New Screen Saver

Well, it can beatz kittens.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

His Master's Voice

Two Reds Pay Homage

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blame Springs Eternal

Also in Maclean's, a fantastic obituary for Mary Conception McCarthy Gomez Cueto, who died on April 3 at the age of 109. Cueto was born on April 27, 1900, to a wealthy Irish Catholic family living in St. John's, Newfoundland. While she was studying at the Boston Conservatory of Music, she met Pedro Gomez Cueto, a Spaniard a dozen years her senior with business interests in Boston and Havana, Cuba. The pair married on May 21, 1922, and they set up house in Havana, where Mary helped establish the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra and, perhaps because she could not have children, an orphanage. When Pedro died in 1950, Mary stayed in Havana, running his business. Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution nationalized the factory and her other properties, valued at $4 million, but Mary remained despite the exodus of wealth from Havana.

Mary eked out a living teaching English, piano and singing. Two decades on, she had become as dilapidated as her villa, with its peeling walls, boarded windows, dust, overgrown garden and decrepit Steinway. “She was wildly painted, she wore a foxstole with a face on it and a tail whenever she came out in the evening, and vintage dresses,” says one-time neighbour Cita Pilgrim. Mary never refused a party invitation, and played the organ at church until it broke. There were hints of her past glory—an antique Cadillac, with tires shipped in from St. John’s, a chauffeur who doubled as a gardener, a herd of peacocks patrolling her grounds. She eventually received a modest stipend from the Cuban government, as well as the odd sum liberated from Boston. Yet the pearls she wore around her neck were fakes.

My favourite line in the obituary, however, is the revelation that Elio Garcia, her former student and godson, blames the U.S. embargo for her death.

Is there a Mr. De'ath?

In the April 27th issue of Canadian magazine Maclean's, Brian Bethune reviews Seth Grahame-Smith's novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Bethune observes that while it is difficult to adapt Jane Austen's novel well, Grahame-Smith helps his cause with his skillful mimicry of her style and the seamless way he inserts his own prose. Moreover, respect for the hallowed original is followed through to the end: Grahame-Smith points out that all the right couples end up together, before adding, with evident delight, that “the wicked are punished much more severely than in the original.” However,

Horror fans have so far proved harder to please than Austenites. Writer Cory Doctorow thinks there isn’t enough brain-eating: “Too much Austen, and not enough zombies,” he succinctly concluded. (That may not augur well for Grahame-Smith’s two contracted sequels, starting with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.)

Should have called it Northanger Abby.

Allen Key

The April edition of Wired magazine carries a pretty cool article about the work of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, which is endeavouring to describe the cortex of the brain at the level of specific genes and individual neurons.

If the institute succeeds, its maps will help scientists decipher the function of the thousands of genes that help produce the human brain. (Although the Human Genome Project was completed more than five years ago, scientists still have little idea which genes are used to make the brain, let alone where in the brain they are expressed.) For the first time, it will be possible to understand how such a complex object is assembled from a basic four-letter code.

However . . .

One unexpected—even disheartening—aspect of the Allen Institute's effort is that although its scientists have barely begun their work, early data sets have already demonstrated that the flesh in our head is far more complicated than anyone previously imagined.

The brain might look homogenous to the naked eye, but it's actually filled with an array of cell types, each of which expresses a distinct set of genes depending on its precise location. Consider the neocortex, the so-called CPU of the brain: Scientists assumed for decades that most cortical circuits were essentially the same—the brain was supposed to rely on a standard set of microchips, like a typical supercomputer. But the atlas has revealed a startling genetic diversity; different slabs of cortex are defined by entirely different sets of genes. The supercomputer analogy needs to be permanently retired.

Or look at the hippocampus, the crescent-shaped center of long-term memory. Until recently, this small fold of tissue in the middle of the brain was depicted as neatly divided into four distinct areas. But data from the atlas has rendered the old maps not only obsolete but flat-out misleading. Even a single hippocampal area can actually be subdivided into at least nine discrete regions, each with its own genetic makeup.

Scientists at the institute are just starting to grapple with the seemingly infinite regress of the brain, in which every new level of detail reveals yet another level. "You can't help but be intimidated by the complexity of it all," Jones says. "Just when you think you're getting a handle on it, you realize that you haven't even scratched the surface." This is the bleak part of working at the Allen Institute: What you mostly discover is that the mind remains an immense mystery. We don't even know what we don't know.

The good news is . . .

Although the human atlas is years from completion, a theme is beginning to emerge: Every brain is profoundly unique, a landscape of cells that has never existed before and never will again. The same gene that will be highly expressed in some subjects will be completely absent in others. Important drug targets, like serotonin receptors, will exist in a disparate set of brain areas depending on the individual. This variation is even visible at a gross anatomical level—different people have differently shaped cortices, with different boundaries between anatomical regions. (This is why, for instance, neurosurgeons have to painstakingly probe the cortex during surgery.) If the human atlas is like Google Maps, then every mind is its own city.

"It can seem like there's an infinite number of variables to consider when you look at the human brain," says Elaine Shen, a manager at the institute. "We're making a genetic map, but what if the map isn't detailed enough? Or what if each brain is so different in expression patterns that we can't make sense of it?" She and her colleagues are convinced, however, that the only way to solve these unknowns is to look at the data, to break the brain apart and try to measure everything. "Once all the data is out there, someone else is going to connect the dots," Jones says. "All we want to do is make that scientific leap possible."

And it all starts here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

It's Friday. Let's Boogie!

The RetroBeats - Fireball XL5 (Live at The Old Market Tavern, Altrincham, 15/05/09)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How Much??!!!!!!!

Brill has just published a new book on Cornelius Castoriadis entitled Castoriadis: Psyche, Society, Autonomy, by Jeff Klooger.

I'm sure the paperback won't be far behind.

Pass, You Bastard!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

What a Fucking Hero

Jarvis Cocker playing for the kids @ Galerie Chappe May 6th 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's Friday. Let's Boogie!

Fatima Mansions - 1000%

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sheer Poetry

David Peace on the death of Thatcher.

It's Still Good to Be Rich

According to Forbes magazine, anyway, which has just published a "survivor's guide for the affluent."

Some plutocrats still have it but aren't flaunting it quite as much. Society photographer Patrick McMullan says rich folks in Manhattan are toning it down at parties, hosting birthday blowouts only at the decade mark and putting out less impressive food when they do. "There used to be caviar; now we are seeing a lot more carrots," McMullan says. In West Palm Beach, Fla. "people are just not as showy as they used to be," says a businessman who spends a lot of time in Florida. "A Bentley used to be like a Chevy down here; now you don't see as many."

. . .

There's the problem of bearing up under a different sort of adversity--when your yacht builder goes broke. A Las Vegas health care executive has paid $20 million toward completion of a 145-foot, $27 million yacht--the world's biggest sailing catamaran--only to have Derecktor Shipyards in Bridgeport, Conn. stop work after it filed for bankruptcy last summer.

The grand project recently resumed, but the boat won't be delivered anywhere near its originally scheduled launch date of November 2007. Things could be worse: Nearby sits the partially completed hull of a gigantic aluminum sloop once intended for Tyco International ( TYC - news - people ) chief executive Dennis Kozlowski, who went to jail for stealing company funds in 2005.

Maybe he could take up painting.

How to Attract Men

Not the latest Spam in your Inbox but the title of an exhibition of paintings by Liz Renay, shown at work, above.

According to Art News's review of her show at Deitch Projects, New York, Renay was the girlfriend of gangster Mickey Cohen. In 1959, she was jailed for three years when she refused to snitch on him before a grand jury. The show, according to the reviewer, was made up of two markedly different halves. First came Renay's paintings, of which she apparently produced around 150 during her jail term, all of them terrible. The second half comprised her publicity photographs, scrapbook pages of press clippings with her penciled notes, and a display case packed with bizarre trophies from her archive in the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

Have a look at the show on the Deitch site and judge for yourself. Is this further proof that prison simply doesn't work?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Nil-Nil, Nil-Nil, Niiiil-Nil!

My first foray into the world of subbuteo tournaments ended at the semi-final stage last night. I couldn't really see anyone beating Frank Sidebottom considering the strong lineup he put out. Any Premiership manager would envy a team built around a spine of Alien, Dalek and Skeletor.

Friday, May 08, 2009

It's Friday. Let's Boogie!

Fujiya & Miyagi - Sore Thumb

Friday, May 01, 2009

It's Friday. Let's Boogie!

The Fall - Container Drivers