19 October, 2007

a few things

Well, it had to happen. Even after the crushing disappointment of 2004, I have gone and got my hopes up, haven't I. Realistically, I still think it's an enormous task for any party, with any leader, to take 16 seats from an incumbent government, but this time it seems more possible than ever - which of course is going to make the disappointment, if it comes, so much more crushing. If Howard & Co are re-elected yet again I will be so so upset.
I seem to be more up-to-date and aware of the blow-by-blow development of this election campaign than any before - testament to my emotional involvement - and the feelings of hope, anticipation and fear I go through daily are honestly quite exhausting. One of the most fascinating/infuriating/amusing activities is keeping track of the mainstream media's coverage.
The Age seems to be toeing a cautiously optimistic line similar to my own feelings. The Australian has, predictably, launched into full-scale Liberal Party Newsletter mode led by that most buxoum conservative cheerleader of all: Dennis Shanahan. Meanwhile the Herald Sun remains unworthy of wrapping kitchen scraps for disposal, with all the analytical insight of a retarded baboon. But at least the sub-par primate seems to be flinging its faeces at John Howard about as often as it is at Kevin Rudd.
As I've made clear before, Rudd is by no means my ideal politician, but faced with the choice between he and Howard, there could not be a more decisive choice: Howard must go. I hate our current Prime Minister so much it's like a physical sensation. Please please please, Australia - make the right choice. The Howard Era should never have happened. It has most certainly gone on far too long. It must end now.

Since when did everyone become so sensitive? Even the majority of voters in a trashy Murdoch media online poll voted that they weren't offended by it, so why are the pollies stumbling over each other to condemn it? Seriously, if these people reckon the Chaser guys are offensive, someone should show them an old video of the Doug Anthony All Stars. It would make their hair stand on end.

Well shock horror, Radiohead's fans didn't cough up enormous amounts of money for In Rainbows. Somehow I don't think the band was expecting to rake in millions. Although, free from the percentages usually swiped by record companies and pressing/printing costs, I'm sure the band members made a tidy sum from the £4 average per download. However, I suspect that wasn't the aim either.
All the predictable arguments allude to the fact that only an already successful band could get away with a stunt like this - that Radiohead's new approach is irrelevant to new, undiscovered bands. Those arguments are perfectly valid, but again they miss the point. I don't think Radiohead intended to single-handedly and instantaneously revolutionise the way music is delivered to consumers. They simply wanted to get people thinking about music, what it's worth, and how it will be acquired in the future. The old model is rapidly becoming unworkable, and any exploration or even discussion of alternatives has got to be a good thing.
Of course what has been largely lacking from most of this discussion is much analysis of the music itself. For my two cents: the album is great. Definitely more consistent than their previous offering Hail To The Theif, and probably their best work since Kid A - some songs are genuinely among the best they've ever recorded. Overall it is an eminently listenable record and - despite the now inevitable electronic influences - it has a very organic feel, with guitars, drums and a gorgeously arranged string section taking a more prominent role than they have since OK Computer.

I have a new internet addiction. It's this nifty little invention by Google, where you get to simultaneously play a fun game, and help tag images to make searches better. It's kind of hard to describe, but basically you get randomly paired with another player, then over the course of two minutes you both "label" images as specifically as possible, trying to get a match with what your partner is typing (which you can't see). The more matches you make, and the more specific they are, the more points you get. Go play, but only if you have nothing else to do for the next hour, because - believe me - you will not be able to stop.

For a long time now, I've had this idea for a movie called Ohio. It's set in New York in 1969-70 and is about two teenage-boys who have a brief, awkward romance at boarding school, only to later discover they are actually separated-at-birth twin brothers. As they deal with this, trying to establish a relationship as brothers rather than lovers, they also become embroiled in the anti-Vietnam War protest movement, and the Kent State student shootings. It's a movie about rebellion and conformity, love and war, guilt and shame, sex, drugs and rock & roll, with an awesome soundtrack of songs by The Velvet Underground, Neil Young and Bob Dylan.
In more recent times, the idea all but faded away, as I increasingly accepted the fact that the likelihood of me having the opportunity to write and direct a film in the foreseeable future was very slim. But just the other day, while driving around and listening to The Velvet Underground's song Heroin incredibly loudly, it occurred to me that - while to make a film you need a shitload of money, a crew, a cast etc, etc - all you need to write a book is something to write with.
I have been trying to think of a reason why Ohio couldn't be a novel, instead of a film. And do you know what? I can't think of one.

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02 October, 2007

yes. yes. oh god, yes.

For anyone out there who's a fan of Radiohead, their new album is finished; it's called In Rainbows.

It will be available for download on the 10th of October (next week! squeee!). And the best part is: you decide what to pay for it. This is for real. By the sounds of the website, you can type in whatever amount you feel you want to pay (even $0 if you're stingy) and that's how much it costs.
There's also a super-deluxe made-to-order double-CD + double-Vinyl pack available which is (a slightly excessive) 40 British Pounds. A standard CD release will happen sometime in early 2008.

There will be no promo discs, press previews or advance copies. Basically (possibly to avoid nasty incidents like the early leaking of Hail To The Thief a few years ago) they're making it available to everyone in the world at the same time, several months before the CD release, for a price of the listener's choosing.

From the excellent Stereogum music blog:
Looks like In Rainbows will be the great equalizer: no advance copies, so probably no leaks -- just a world full of Radioheadheads pressing play on the same day ... really, we've got a band-sanctioned album leak complete with tip jar, a deluxe package, and the eventual record-store release of the album. It's a nice way of challenging the traditional model, of embracing the way people get their music, and of framing a host of new issues and alternatives for industry wonks to debate and consider for a long time to come.

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