Blog 7

Jan 19

Twenty Eighteen, A List (i)

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This list was inspired by Brad Nelson in another place, and their excellent idea of just smushing together the things which stood out in 2018 regardless of media or format or whatever else. In practice the list is distressingly limited in scope. It’s been a weird year, a year when time got away from me – a combination of sudden leaps forward in my work life and huge challenges as a parent and a human being. My will to express myself atrophied. Of course I have regrets about that. But culture can be a comfort as well as a challenge, and that’s what I needed last year.

But last year is over. I’m starting up my album-a-day project again, to be mainly documented on a new Tinyletter I’m setting up, which will have brief notes on those and on other things I bump into. You can subscribe to that at if you like.

Here are some bits of flotsam from 2018, in the order they occurred to me.


Oct 17

All 151 Original Pokemon Ranked From Worst To Best By Drake (Age 8)

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(This article was transcribed by me, Drake’s Dad, over a series of Sunday conversations. We counted evolutionary lines as a single Pokemon for space and patience reasons.)


151. MR. MIME (Mr. Mime)



Mar 10

WHITNEY HOUSTON – “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”

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#591, 6th June 1987, video

“I wanna dance with somebody who loves me”: the lyrics on this record suggest vulnerability, but who are they kidding? It’s pure titanium, stadium-ready dance music backing a singer on juggernaut form. I’ve talked a lot in the 80s entries about how bigness for its own sake often misfires as a strategy but if you can do enormity well then you’re laughing. And thanks to Whitney this track pulls it off – the producers can conjure up as much space and scale and decoration as they like and throw it at her in the knowledge her voice can rise above it.


Dec 09

The Sun Never Sets On The Empire?

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A wonderfully atmospheric podcast produced by our own Elisha Sessions form the Hackney Podcast which takes a long look at the history of the Hackney Empire, and tiptoes into its current woes. Eli has written on here in his Hackney Empire New Act Of The Year pieces about the future uncertainty over the operation of the Empire, one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever been in – albeit to see a terrible stage production of The Usual Suspects*. This Hackney Podcast is a great example of “in their own words” history, a relaxed example of reportage without obvious editorialising. I say without obvious editorialising, its clear what the Hackney Elders, regular Hackney Empire goers, think of the current Arts Council initiative there, and I can’t say the comments of the new Chief Executive give much solace. But listen away for a wonderfully atmospheric piece of radio. (As the comment says – though as the comment is from Louis, which is the name of Eli’s 1-year old child I am a touch suspicious).


*It was MA research for my dissertation on plays based on films. And my conclusion in this case was IT WAS A BAD IDEA! But at least I got to look at the theatre.

Nov 09


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My first M R James story was Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook, which is also the first in the book. I talk about it at some length here, and most of the way through it I have to confront the issue that I did not find it very scary as a ghost story. So now coming back to James and in particular Count Magnus I wondered if he had developed his hang on the chills which need to go with his detailed prose and his generally excellent pacing. And it is interesting that Count Magnus, a tale which shares a huge amount with Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook (including much of its plot) is by degrees considerably scarier, but only due to the use of what seems now like quite hackneyed set pieces. From the Canon to the Count there is a development which pre-figures Lovecraft by adequately also maps a general shift in how horror has developed in the last 100 years too.

Count Magnus is yet another of James’s second hand tales, this time our narrator is telling the tale of Mr Wraxall, a learned but potentially slippery writer of travel books. As is often the case James is comfortable with having his leads as academics, researchers or authors, but you get the feeling that Wraxall is seen in a less favourable light than Alberic’s Dennistoun. Wraxall is nearly a fellow of Brasenose, and yet his only published work seems to be of his travels in Brittany.


Jul 09

Which War Is It Anyway?

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Future history as outlined by Google.

: Has its own Wikipedia page which is inconclusive as to whether this has already happened.
WORLD WAR IV: The “Long Struggle Against Islamofascism”. We’re apparently in this one. Though George W Bush claimed it was merely World War III.
WORLD WAR V: Feeble attempt at comedy by Uncyclopedia. Clearly they do not appreciate the severity of our war situation.
WORLD WAR VI: Took place on Club Penguin!! Digital cyberwar knows no boundaries of space, age, or numeric order.
WORLD WAR VII: Documented in song by Sum 41, this is a war between humans and genetically enhanced monsters! Hard to pick just one dispatch from this moving account but it might have to be: “Until the day a leader emerges / With mind powers like electric surges”
WORLD WAR VIII: Following this devastation the only documentation of World War VIII is a man shouting “World War Eight!” into a microphone repeatedly.
WORLD WAR IX: A hardcore band. I picked “Gangbang Island” to listen to but you might want to try something else. That’s the freedom we fight world wars to defend.
WORLD WAR X: A blog written in a strange future language. Or Finnish.

Jun 09

IPC Sub-Editors Dictate Our Nation’s Youth(‘s festival footwear)

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Graun journalist spends all day reading and fails to really read the glastowatch story she links to which shows a screencap from metcheck when it said that SEVERAL MILES of rain would fall per day, temperatures would top 2000°C and the wind would be over 1000mph….

Also Science dude in the original Times story is relatively reserved, basically there’s this weather pattern that happens kind of at the end of June, but really isn’t that predictable and it’s not really a real monsoon, really…

The forecast will DO ME FINE to be honest (it currently says no rain after monday night, overcast but reasonably warm all weekend)

May 09

Deep Thort

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This is a PDF of the cover story on this month’s Research magazine, written by me about the ten current hottest thinkers in consumer behaviour (i.e. those dudes most often mentioned at research conferences).

It has been tested on non-researchers, viz my wife and in-laws, all of whom kindly said it was interesting and even comprehensible.

Apr 09

Court And Spark

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Cluetrainers In The Age Of Conversation

cluetrain0 This post is my contribution to the “Cluetrain Plus Ten” project, in which 95 bloggers provide commentary on each of the 95 Theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto. I chose Thesis 15, which runs as follows:

“In just a few more years, the current homogenized “voice” of business—the sound of mission statements and brochures—will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court.”

As it happens, I was working on a brochure when I first read The Cluetrain Manifesto. I’d already realised that being “the internet guy” in a curious but not tech-savvy department gave me certain leeway to break from my duties. The Manifesto required a longer break than I generally risked, but it was worth it.

The brochure languished. I started proselytising. Then I got a different job, started my own blog and online community, and spent a few years grappling with the grubby reality of conversation online. I forgot the Cluetrain Manifesto, but when I heard about this project I jumped at the chance to revisit it. So – Thesis 15: let’s go!


Apr 09

The Top Five Reasons I WILL Follow You On Twitter

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For some reason I keep getting suckered into clicking through tinyURLs to things like this old Mashable piece, in which someone lists their reasons for NOT following people on Twitter and then all the comments crew slap each other on the back for realising that Twitter is like “a business networking event”. Since business networking events are some of the grimmest and most insincere occasions on earth it seems odd to want to recreate that vibe online without even a complimentary vol au vent, but each to their own.

Reading it though I thought some positivity was needed. So here are the reasons why I would follow back a complete stranger on Twitter. Of course I should point out that there’s no reason said stranger would follow me in the first place: beardy blokes working in social media are no scarce resource online! But in the event that a slip of the finger lands @tomewing on your list here’s what I’m looking for.