Monthly Archives: June 2008


I read a column a few weeks back about the vital artistic integrity of the “album” as a compositional entity. The author (now forgotten) noted his refusal to listen to digital recordings on a random shuffle; only the album as originally organized and pressed would meet his criteria of listen-ability.
Look, I’m a cranky old geezer, and I marinated in the ambiance of vinyl music. I marveled at subtle, beautiful segues and elegant sequences that culminate in exquisite climaxes. Rah, rah, rah!
But the columnist in question — does he not ever listen to the radio? Or go to clubs? How far does his obsessive purity extend? Would he decline to read one poem out of a volume, instead reading the entire book in sequence? Did he eschew cassettes (and eight-tracks), because they sometimes altered the sequence of tracks? Did said listener always listen to both sides of an album (in side one, then side two order), and if so, would he pause a CD between the last track of what used to be side one and the first track of side two, to recapture that pivotal intermezzo required to flip the LP? One would have to stop one’s ears to the soundtracks of the many current movies that draw isolated tracks from their albums of origin and deploy them as incidental accompaniment to a barrage of explosions, a montage of kisses and rainbows.
Look, I’m not against listening to albums straight through; Dark Side of the Moon comes to mind right away, and Tommy and Quadrophenia; Sgt. Pepper’s, Ziggy Stardust, and plenty of others reward sequential listening. No ethical obligation requires me so to do, however; no editorial intention inhabits the sequence of tracks, no auditorial Categorical Imperative obliges me to accede to some “original” presentation of the musical selections compiled onto an album. After all, several tracks may have been released as singles before. Many performers show no hesitation whatever about releasing compilations of their work in greatest-hits albums. Many albums are re-engineered or remastered, and re-released with additional tracks; presumably the pure album-osity of the work resides in some transcendent quality that constitutes the Platonic idea of the given work, rather than in any particular instantiation thereof.
An album whose sequence and constituent tracks are good enough to induce me to prefer a consecutive listening has earned the prerogative to shut off my “shuffle” function; and an album that doesn’t ascend to that stature can’t browbeat me with condescending rhetoric about artistic vision.

Of All The

The one item from our home that we haven’t been able to turn up — not in the debris from the flood that needed to be thrown out, not in the dry stuff that we’re packing, not anywhere — is our wedding album. We are not freaking out about it; we know one another well enough to survive this. But we would be pleased if it turned up in some overlooked corner.

On The Button

I noticed David Weinberger’s post, but didn’t read it carefully the first time; the words “CIA” and “Wikipedia” stood out, so I opted not to follow through on some covert operation to subvert open-source reference work, or edit wars about U.S. intelligence, or whatever.
Then I read it more carefully, and thought, “Wow — I can think right away of more than one organization for which these rules function as creedal statements, rather than as a deliberate tactic for paralysis and failure.” The next time I sit through an interminable personal reminiscence about a tangential topic, I may send the committee chair a copy of this post.


The description of the new Apple iPhone 3G sounds like a slight enough upgrade over the previous generation that I’m a little confused. Apple and AT&T expect customers to pay more for equivalent service (3G is only available in a small portion of the U.S. — most users will be using the same EDGE network as before), pay for SMS, on a device whose major difference from before is having GPS. The new applications should run on the 2G machines as well as 3G (except, of course, ones that depend on GPS).
With Android getting ready to hit the market, the more-for-the-same strategy seems counterintuitive. Am I missing something, or is Steve hoping that his reality distortion field will extend beyond the conference keynote to all shoppers as well?


Episcopal Life features a story on a recent service at Trinity Church, which offered particular thanks for the ministries of past music directors there. The story includes a photo of Jim Litton conducting the choir, and toward the right there‘s a radiant face gazing intently at the choir director from over her music — it’s Pippa! The service was lovely, and we remain fiercely proud of Pippa, who not only fulfills the high expectations of top-notch choral conductors, but also has been handling the dreadful unpleasantness of moving with grace and maturity.

One More Thing

While browsing the alternatives available from eMusic, I noted with delight an exchange between a dissatisfied customer and their Spanish interlocutor. The dissatisfied user complains that eMusic doesn’t code its ID3 tags correctly, obliging customers to put time into fixing what they’ve paid for (I’ve issued a similar lament myself) — what’s the point of paying, if the product requires immediate maintenance?
“sort of ok thruout” from Ibiza points out that the tracks in question are free, and chides, “youre not gonna look thru the mouth of a given horse.”

The Return Of Dr Fell

Igino Marini’s type site has been more active some times than others, but in response to a provocation from Jos Buivenga, Marini has recompiled his digital versions of the historic Fell typefaces from Oxford University Press; you can download the new OpenType versions, free, from his site. The new versions have more historical variants, the small caps versions are rolled into the main file, and Marini has rejiggered the font metrics. Churches, this is a golden opportunity to obtain quite serviceable, handsome typefaces entirely free. Escape the vanilla humdrum of Times New Roman and distinguish yourself with Fell’s Great Primer!