Why are there lots of music videos that show rebellious young boys?

I often enjoy watching music videos.

There are three relatively new songs, and the promos for each of them all involve a teenage boy doing bad stuff. An interesting trend…

Any explanations?

Arcade Fire’s Ontological Anthem

we exist

Arcade Fire have an interesting prayer in their song:

Down on your knees
Begging us please
Praying that we don’t exist

This is a classick example of an unbelieving 21st century philosopher’s prayer, he goes beyond hoping that God does not exist, his ultimate hope is that he doesn’t exist. If we don’t exist then we can do what we want and live at the centre of our own self-made lucid-dream (or nightmare). Lennon said it first, ‘Living is easy with eyes closed’. Win Butler’s character’s equivalent is to close his ears not his eyes: ‘Walking around head full of sound’.

But what I like is that We Exist rejects this possibility. Despite the fact that this unbeliever is desperate to conclude that nothing is real, the song’s refrain relentlessly reminds him (and us) of the truth…

We exist.

So what now?

Which actor has ‘unnaturally good rhythm’?

Another gem from John Jeremiah Sullivan on Oscar Isaac:

He turned out to have unnaturally good rhythm. The problem with putting live performances in a narrative movie, the reason nobody does it, is you can’t splice the film together later; if the tempo is even a hair off, between takes, the flow is ruined. So you have the actors lip-sync to a pre-recorded track. But that invariably looks cheesy. In order to get around the problem, T Bone Burnett (who produced the music) sat off camera with a stopwatch, timing Isaac’s individual measures. If the actor were to vary by a split second, they’d have to go back and re-shoot. But there was no variation. “I know it sounds like hyperbole,” Burnett said, “but the whole time I sat there, he never varied.”

How long does it take for a CD to arrive through the post?

My Inside Llewyn Davis Original Soundtrack Recording has arrived after a wait of over a month!

The fault was partly mine for thinking I’d ordered it; waiting; and then realising I didn’t actually order it.

Then ordering it again — which actually means I ordered it for the first time — but I wasn’t willing to pay a couple of quid extra to get it from a reputable seller, so I had to do more waiting for it to arrive from whatever strange place in the world it was necessary for it to come from for it to remain cheap.

It came last week but I wasn’t in to sign for it — why I had o sign for it, I don’t know — so I missed it again.

It finally arrived yesterday, from Hong Kong! (Why is it cheaper when it’s come all the way from Hong Kong!?)

Worth the wait though.

Melysmatic Myncis

In How I Escaped My Certain Fate Professor Lee talks at length about the structural technicalities of stand-up comedy. He speaks amiably of a method he calls “O’Briain’s Truncated Appendage”, it’s when comedians tell a joke and then immediately say “So!” or “Errm” or “Ah” after it.

I’ve been thinking about the album AM and what it is about it that makes it pleasurable to listen to. I think it’s to do with when they extend a single syllable of a word and slur it over several notes. I had originally thought I would have to come up with a Stewian labelling for this musical flourish like diversified elongation. But I did a tiny bit of reading and from my limited research I think it may be to do with proper Italian music words. The articulation of a legato (notes tied together), I think it ends up being called melisma (correct me if I’m foolish).

Is there an element to which the Adamic mandate to taxonomise extends to music and stand-up comedy and in fact all art and the burgeoning new techniques therein? I like that moment when I see a repeated artistic thing happening and I don’t know what its called and my task is either to find out what that is that someone has already given a name to — or even better — to pioneer the branding of this newly discovered trend.

Here’s three examples of melisma from AM, I have demonstrated the legato using dashes:

– “I wanna be yoh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ours” (I Wanna Be Yours)

– “…of try-y-y-ing, to kiss you.” (Do I Wanna Know?)

– “From the bottom of your hea-ah-ah-ah-art / the relegation zone.” (One For The Road)



18 things I do not regret my parents doing with me

Inspired by when Anti Catrin showed us that Challies article when he wrote the 18 things he doesn’t regret doing with his kids.

1. Praying with us before bed.
That was part of the everyday routine for us, and that’s remained into my adult life. Praying with Sibyl before sleeping goes along with brushing my teeth and putting on my PJs.

2. Giving us pocket money.
Dad borrowed a method from the de Jongs in our church; we would receive our age squared (in pennies), every Saturday. Enough to buy sweeties (or da da as we’d call them in Welsh), but we had to save some for collection in church the next day.

3. Talking with us about theology as we walked
On the way to the sweet shop every Saturday, Dad would ‘teach us diligently when we walked by the way’. I remember the freedom to talk about any theological concept, ask any question. “How do we know if God even exists?” “Who is the Holy Spirit?” “Can God sin?”

4. Playing us Christian songs.
I still remember every single Steve Green Hide ’em in Your Heart song, along with great family hymns like Holy, Holy, Holy. I was even helped when Dad tried to get us all to sing Keep on the Sunnyside from the Oh Brother Where Art Thou OST.

5. Leading us in family devotions
Not a day went by without us having a mealtime (sometimes breakfast, sometimes dinner) when the Bible was read to us. I’m indebted to those times for a huge chunk of my Biblical knowledge now.

6. Prioritising a family meal everyday
Leading on from that, we always ate together. I remember a school-friend moaning that his Mum forced them to have a meal together once a week. I remember thinking “Once!? Who else would you have a meal with the rest of the time?”

7. Feeding us amazingly tasty food
Yes, I’m dwelling on these mealtimes, but that’s because they were so good! Roast potatoes, homemade chips, roast chicken, sausages, turkey bake, quiche, tuna pie. And then there’s the puddings… chocolate brownies, chocolate pudding, chocolate bread and butter pudding, millionaire shortbread (with chocolate), little pastry pie things with brown sugary raisin stuff in them, fridge cake, flapjacks, cookies, and shop-bought battenberg was always a hit too.

8. Disciplining us
We knew when we’d been naughty and often had to learn the hard way. But those smacks could well have saved my life, they helped me honour my parents, and I know that that means I can now enjoy long life on the earth. However the downside is I do have a phobia of all wooden spoons…

9. Taking photos and videos of us
There’s a great VHS of me when I was a baby which is amazing to watch, and there’s lots of photos which I love looking at, people who’ve died that I now have images of to look at, memories of birthdays and Christmases, great stuff.

10. Taking us to church
That was just normality on Sundays. Morning and Evening. What’s come home to me recently is that I heard the gospel so many times before I listened to it, God gave me (literally) thousands of chances, and so much time, this helps me to have patience with others who have not grown up with that privilege, and who are not converted as soon as I tell them the gospel.

11. Sending us to schools
Firstly, the Welsh primary school solidified my contact with Cymraeg and Cymru, a language and place where much of my heart is with, so I’m thankful for that. As for the secondary school, I’m grateful for the socialisation and contact with the secular world that that gave me practice in.

12.Teaching us how to decipher what they were teaching us in school and the Bible
Dad would often ask us after school, “Did they mention God even once today?” The answer was usually no. I went to one of the most humanist schools around, but I’m glad I went home and was given the tools to engage with all of that.

13. Telling us to watch things critically
Along the same lines, these were the tools that we were to use when watching TV and films. Dad’s catchphrase was indeed “are you watching this critically?” And from speaking to my fifteen-year-old brother this week, he still says that.

14. Giving us time to play outside in our garden
Hours and hours and hours spent in our garden, mostly playing football, but also making a treehouse with our friends the Barnses, and also digging holes, even making fires sometimes! And the tree-swing was amazing too. And the climbing frame. And the paddling pool in the summer.

15. Encouraging us to do household chores
Lay the table, clear the table, empty the dishwasher, tidy your room… all things we were encouraged to do, but I must confess were very poor at even those few tasks. Poor Mam. I’m still working on that one. But I’m glad I was shown the importance of them.

16. Telling us how important books are
I was a terrible reader as a child, Dad at one point even offered to give me £2 for every book I could finish, it still didn’t work. He is a voracious reader, and that example has served me well as I’m slowly growing in my love for books. So even for the times I was forced to read boring Enid Blyton books about inane supernatural teddy bears, thank you.

17. Encouraging a love of music in us
There was more often than not music playing in our house. From Mam it would be The Carpenters and Lionel Ritchie, from Dad it would be Focus and The Beatles, and on Sunday we’d have Classical music. Did you know, I still love music?

18. Deciding to have loads of kids
I love having four brothers. It’s so fun. It’s also mad. But I can’t think of a better community to grow up in, one in which you are in a house with four other kids who all share the same parents and space as you, and are all so different from you, but also share so much in common with you too. That’s been great.

Five best covers of tracks from Bob Dylan’s Slow Train Coming (1979)

1. Alison Krauss – I Believe in You

Brings a heartfelt folky emotion to the song.

And there’s another nice version here by Cat Power.

2. Chrissie Hynde – Property of Jesus

This one’s got such a groove to it.

3. Booker T and the M.G.s – Gotta Serve Somebody

That organ.

4. Johnny Borrell (of Razorlight fame) – Man Gave Names To All The Animals

His band seem nuts, such funny costumes, good musicians though.

Quite a nice Jason Mraz version here too.

5.  Kevin Max – When He Returns

A bit CCM, but a nice voice, and a brilliant song.