After being so lax with keeping track of movies and music here last year, I thought I’d try posting every month about what’s passed across my audio-visual radar. Then the end of January came and went, and I thought I’d make it bi-monthly instead. Welcome to Conspicuous Consumption, an occasional series for 2020.
Haircut Practice is Peanuts reborn.
Yosemite’s firefall is too beautiful for its own good.
David Allen Green wrote recently on the conceptual problem of the TV licence, which is under attack by the government as a way of punishing the BBC for its lack of ideological fervour for Brexit. The licencing scheme is certainly problematic, and when I first moved here I couldn’t see why the UK kept it over a system of funding via general taxation. But the Tories are contemplating a model of private subscriptions, not general taxation, and a flat tax licence is better than starving the BBC to death. What a miserable prospect a Britain with no Beeb would be.
The odds of No Deal at the end of 2020 have shortened considerably in the past week or two, even if the government is refusing to call it that. It’ll be more or less certain if we pass 30 June with no UK request to extend transition, but given the tone of current government rhetoric it’s already the way to bet. Why would Johnson sacrifice his reputation among Leavers by accepting a compromise deal when he can look tough by rejecting one? (The major betting sites don’t seem to have this on their radar at the moment. All they’re taking bets on is when the UK will rejoin the EU and which country will leave it next.)
Late last year my webhost suddenly switched from MySQL to MariaDB for its back-end databases, which meant that my aging installation of Movable Type, which had powered this blog for a decade and a half, stopped working. Short of finding a new host, paying a fortune for a newer Pro version of MT, or adding individual posts by hand indefinitely, my best option was to make the switch to WordPress, which I’d tentatively started with a blog project in 2015. I figured I’d switch over in 2020 so that the static archives from before the start of the year could persist unchanged.
Moving the site across has been a complicated process, and isn’t finished yet. I thought I’d keep track of some of the tips and posts I found along the way that made it possible.
Despite never having set foot in a nightclub, Rupa Biswas made a Bengali disco album on holiday in Canada in the early 1980s, which sank without trace. Decades later, her son discovered that copies were selling online for hundreds of dollars and that one track in particular had racked up millions of views on YouTube. Now the singer is receiving proceeds from the Numero Group reissue and corresponding with fans around the world.
I said goodbye here to our car when it finally died, so I should really do the same for my bike, a Claud Butler Dolomite hybrid which lasted eighteen and a half years before I finally donated it yesterday to the Bike Station, where it will be repaired and sold on. Over those years I’ve ridden it right around Edinburgh, out over the Forth bridges, from Glasgow to Edinburgh twice with Pedal for Scotland, around the Trossachs, up and down the hills of Glentress, and back and forth to work and the shops and the kids’ school (since my youngest finished nursery I’ve been riding to work every day). It was my seventh bike, after three as a kid and three others as an adult, and lasted by far the longest. Farewell, faithful steed—and welcome, shiny new Pinnacle Cobalt 4.
Memories of England in better times, when HMV and Parrot Records were full of Carter USM albums emblazoned with the flag of Europe. I spent nine of the happiest months of my life studying here as a Masters student, thinking deep thoughts, making good friends, performing onstage. I carried my 35mm camera around at times, taking about a hundred photos of the town over the course of those nine months, another laughably small number compared with what I would have taken in digital. I’ve finally scanned them and sorted them into a gallery for Detail. Take a punt:
I saw in 11 p.m. last night by watching Rocketman. In hindsight, it seems appropriate to have been watching a movie about someone who started out full of talent and promise, grew insanely rich, spent a few years going off the deep end in a coke-fuelled frenzy, and ended up in rehab.