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Sandman

Filed under: Life — Thomas @ 11:13 pm

2008-9-30
11:13 pm

What’s the name of the word for the precise moment when you realize that you’ve actually forgotten how it felt to make love to somebody you really liked a long time ago?
There isn’t one.
Oh. I thought maybe there was.
No. There isn’t

The good thing about discovering a comic 20+ years after it was first written is that you can gorge on the back catalogue.

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman at times reads like poetry.

Amsterdamned

Filed under: Conference,Flumotion,Work — Thomas @ 2:52 pm

2008-9-11
2:52 pm

Arrived last night, IBC starts on Friday and I’m setting the booth up with Pedro today.

Every time I have a hotel reservation for work for some reason the hotel always thinks the room’s not paid for yet and ask me for payment. It’s a curse.

On the plane I had a craving to go to the cinema later tonight, and as fate would have it the hotel is right across the street from a cinema. So the choice between a movie and a visit to the Red Light District was easy – I went to see Wanted. Mindless action fun, nicely shot, and ultimately forgettable.

Today, waiting for our cases of stuff to arrive. I’m sure they’ll show up around 17.00, an hour before the IBC convention center closes.

In a cruel twist of fate, we have the sewer pipe of Akamai’s booth that ends up in our booth and goes in a hole in the floor, so we have one floor tile sticking out. That’s where we were planning to put our servers. So it goes.

At IBC we’ll be demoing our freshly available commercial version of our Flumotion streaming server (we also have our new website online). A big thanks to Johan Dahlin, who is the only person in the world to have been hired by our company twice, and to Murray Cumming, who wrote our new Flumotion manual, which will be available online for the free version soon.

Maybe we should show some Dirac streaming too, since the BBC, David and Christian seem to be here.

Six

Filed under: Music — Thomas @ 11:31 pm

2008-9-8
11:31 pm

Ten years ago (and, ok, 1 day – I am a bit late in posting this) a band called Mansun released an album called Six.

I remember seeing a video for ‘Wide Open Space’, still one of my favourite alltime tracks, which was one of the singles off their first album, ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’. I guess the title appealed to me based on a youth reading comic books. Wide Open Space was a killer track, but all of Attack of the Grey Lantern was masterfully sequenced, had some excellent songs, and an amazing flow. Needless to say I was looking incredibly forward to a second Mansun album back in the day.

I don’t think I was ever in my life as disappointed with a new album of a band I liked as I was with Six. I found it… unlistenable. The record was simply all over the place, way too many techie sounds everywhere, and songs just ended almost right after starting – it was an ADHD dream and I couldn’t wrap my ears around it. I think I left the album for a good two years.

And then one day I gave it another chance. Or, a good fifteen chances. I listened to the album on repeat a whole day. Until things finally started to click into place. The album was still all over the place, but songs started being crystallized out of the swamp. Granted, each track still felt like a cut-and-paste of song ideas, switching between three different songs during one track, repeating bits from other tracks across tracks, and basically just sounding like the work of a madman. But, with repeated listens, a method emerged from the madness.

Of course, it helps that strewn across this disc there are some of Mansun’s best songs – Being a Girl, Special/Blown It and Legacy are adrenalin rollercoaster tracks. But really, it’s the album experience that ties this album together – few other albums so excellently portray what it is like to be an album. And, you know, these days, albums are quickly becoming a lost art.

Yes, the album is still completely crazy. It is out there. I can’t recall off-hand any other album that has felt so strange and alien at the beginning, and still manages to amaze me. It’s by no means my favourite album, but it definitely wins on the amazing turnaround from utter crap to complete genius it’s thrown at me.

(Incidentally, I mentioned this album before in my 30-albums-I-took-to-Spain list.)

I was disappointed (but not as much as when first hearing Six) when my then girlfriend hooked me up with Little Kix, their third album. I was assuming it was going to win me over in the same way as Six, but never did. I completely lost track of them after that. They split right after releasing that album, and Mansun is one of the few bands I really really like that I’ve never been able to see live. I still regret not seeing them, I would definitely have traveled to the island to go see them.

A month ago I learnt that they actually did have quite a bit of output after that last release – apparently they had wrapped up sessions for their fourth album, and released three discs’ worth of material in a box called Kleptomania that I ought to be getting really soon. Pretty impressive – with any luck it’s actually a lot better than Little Kix.

So, by chance someone on last.fm shoutboxed me to get me subcribed to the singer’s blog this week, where he reveals all the secrets about this album and settles many more questions than I ever had about this album.

Three important points I learned from his blog:

  • the album really was indeed a piecing together of lots of little song ideas
  • amazingly, this whole album was recorded ‘live’ – no after-the-fact Pro Tools editing and splicing. I’ll have to take his word for it, but I would have deemed it impossible from listening to it. Basically, this is one of the final albums of the no-protools-era.
  • They did in fact use Pro Tools on this album – but they used it as an instrument. They recorded sounds or bits, tweaked them live in Pro Tools, and played them back through their recording equipment as they mixed it live. So basically, it was also one of the first albums of the protools-era

Also, reading through his entries about each of the tracks makes me even more than in the past want to be the fly on the wall on a recording session of an album – a goal to set for the future I guess…

Seriously, if you love rock music, this album deserves your attention. But it deserves lots of it, or none at all. You need to live in this album for a week and let you win it over. Its rewards can be found through the looking glass, but you need to break on through to the other side.

You know, I think I’m going to listen to Six on repeat for the rest of the week… let’s see if I can get any work done that way!

Thanks, Mansun, for a mindblowing album.

(Update: shit, I found some site that sells a still-’new’ Kleptomania box set. And of course that site had other stuff I am never able to find, like Catherine Wheel’s Ferment CD because mine is broken. I just splashed out 200 euros on music. Me, a credit card, the internet – a dangerous cocktail)

Travelympics

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 11:17 pm

2008-9-7
11:17 pm

Lately I’ve been able to knock down my door-to-door time travelling between my apartment in Barcelona and the one in Brussels to around 4 hours. Today I managed a sleek 4:03. I only count trips that don’t involve taxis because taxis are cheating. (Getting Kristien to come pick me up is ok though – love is something I fought for, not paid for. Getting someone else to pick me up without paying them for it in cash is ok too.)

Things that help:

  • living a 12 minute drive from the airport in Brussels
  • living close to the first Aerobus stop in Barcelona
  • on-line checkin (shaves quite a few minutes of queueing off the total – time that can be very unpredictable and mostly decides your leaving time – and has the additional advantage of allowing you to carry whatever weight of stuff in your hand luggage, which will not get checked, as long as still *looks* like, you know, hand luggage)
  • luck with the Bicing-bus connections
  • instead of asking for window or aisle, asking for ‘as close to the front of the plane as possible’. Makes for quicker getaway. Not very useful if your airline does not dock at the gate on arrival – you all get on the same bus in that case.

Things that hinder:

  • traffic jams in Belgium
  • plane delays – I’ll have some graphs soon on my 3 most used airlines; obviously, though I hate traveling in the morning, the risk of delays is higher in the evenings because delays accumulate throughout the day. My worst delay was three hours and then a no-fly because ‘one of the engines makes unstable noises and the engineers are trying to fix it’ – I was happy to only board the plane after hearing they re-routed a plane from Russia to pick us up.
  • not arriving at the gate
  • security silliness – it definitely took more time right after the start of the ‘no liquids’ phase, and I remember before that point Barcelona didn’t even check boarding passes before going to security

It’s also interesting to see how wildly airlines vary in the time they allow between turning off the fasten seat belts sign and turning it on again. Obviously, this is my Zoney Hacking Time, so this matters to me, though I get strange looks when I try to explain this.

Heard this week over the speaker system of the plane: “Ladies and gentlemen, as we are currently refueling, we ask you not to fasten your seat belts yet please.” OK, obviously I was curious – one gets jaded after years of flying. But this instruction was so deliciously new and as yet unheard, I had to hail a flight attendant and inquire into this strange instruction. “Oh, yes – we ask not to fasten seat belts just so, in case something goes wrong during refueling, people can get off the aircraft more quickly.”

I think I was sorry I asked.

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