Month: January 2015

Book review: L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City

L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive CityL.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City by John Buntin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read some Ellroy? Like Dragnet? You’ll probably enjoy this book. It’s essentially a history of the LAPD, though that title wouldn’t have half as much excitement as this one: at once piggybacking on the Ellroy novel/flick and evoking the idea of a titanic struggle between good and evil.

The truth is a little less razzle-dazzle. What we have here is the story of the LAPD presented by focusing on the career of two men – William H. Parker, who would rise to head the organsation, and Mickey Cohen, part of a different Organisation altogether. (more…)

New Oren Ambarchi interview

My interview with composer and multi-instrumentalist Oren Ambarchi (whose records are ace) has been published at Cyclic Defrost. Here’s an excerpt:

“I’m chasing a feeling I get from some of my favourite musics. Something that’s transporting, otherworldly. Ecstatic free sound. I’m searching for something that is almost unknown to me, until I find it, that is. Some kind of beauty.
“I know it when I find it. Somehow everything falls into place – hopefully – at a certain point. I’m happy for this to take a while, so it’s a journey.
“There is some perfectionism but I’m trying not to be too anal about it all. I don’t want to suck the life out of it from refining, refining, refining. It still needs to retain a rawness, an unpredictability. There’s a fine line there, and I have to watch it.”

You can read the rest here.

Book review: Charlatan: The Fraudulent Life of John Brinkley

Charlatan: The Fraudulent Life of John BrinkleyCharlatan: The Fraudulent Life of John Brinkley by Pope Brock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you ever planned on reading a book on goat testicles, it should probably be this one. It tells the story of John Brinkley, a master manipulator who made millions from the mania for manually mixing your own tired testicles with the most succulent slices of goat gonad for the bedroom-blastin’ revivification of your lacking lovelife, ladies and lethargic Lotharios!

Basically, the book is the less effective surgical version of this:

Brinkley’s story is a proper rags-to-riches tale, built on the back of a lot of nutsacks and a cavalier disregard (more…)

2014 consumption: a look at some stuff I liked

It’s a new year, and for me that’s as good a time as any to look at what I did last year. More specifically, to look at my consumption of books, music, games and stuff over the past year. I’m not certain it’s interesting to anyone other than myself, but given that I’m a stats nerd – odd for someone who was definitively crap at them during my university years – and because I’m into recording stuff. What I’ve listened to. What I’ve read. What movies I’ve seen. Et cetera. Some of the data’s incomplete but it’s a reasonable portrait I suppose. This’ll be a long one.

I record most of my listening on, as I have done for years now. For ten years, this year. Basically, any time I play something on my computer – which, at work, is where I listen to most of my music anyway – or now, on my iPhone, it’ll send a record of it to my profile. I try to record the stuff I listen to at home – usually with this thing – but far less reliably. Given it’s been running for the longest of any recording I’ve done, there’ll be more data here to work from.

It’s a useful source of information – the sidebar listing what I’m listening to comes from data – and provides enough statistics to keep me happy. For example, the counter on my profile tells me that since 2005, I’ve listened to 132,000 tracks, more or less.

But how did I fare last year? Well, here’s a graphical representation of my top artists for 2014:

Some things don't change.

As to how those listens were distributed, there’s this helpful chart – which you’ll have to click to read, undoubtedly.