This is where your find short posts, like quick updates, interesting links or photos.

One of my favorite bands, The Divine Comedy, is playing in Oslo tonight. I’ve seen them twice before, once here and once in Dublin, which was one of the great concert experiences of my life.

Neil Hannon, who is The Divine Comedy, has been remarkably consistent in his output, and being untethered from his contemporaries, has avoided the usual "middle age is approaching" slump. Furthermore, his side project, The Duckworth Lewis Method, a cricket-themed collaboration with Thomas Walsh, led me to discover the latter’s band, Pugwash, one of the great – and unfairly obscure – pop bands around.

The closest The Divine Comedy has come to releasing a dud was Regeneration, which was a stab at sounding more of its time. It remains one of the less-loved (Less-loved, mind you, not more-hated) releases, which is unfair, because it’s really good. This is the video for Perfect Lovesong.

Posted Apr 08, 2022 in Music.

This is a step towards totalitarianism, with every Russian, rich or poor, being demanded to make a choice: are you with or against Putin? There is no more room for neutrality or loyal opposition, caveats or concerns. Or else? Or else what he chillingly called a ‘natural and necessary self-cleansing of society,’ that he believed ‘will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, cohesion and readiness to meet any challenge.’ […] Of course, another word for cleansing is ‘purge.’

Mark Galeotti writing for The Spectator, Putin’s totalitarian turn

Posted Mar 17, 2022 in Life, death and taxes.

A proper return to form by Tears for Fears. Their new album, The Tipping Point, is great, but it won’t necessarily lighten your mood.

Posted Feb 28, 2022 in Music.

The decision to embark on this war rests on the shoulders of one man. As we saw earlier this week Putin has become obsessed with Ukraine, and prone to outrageous theories which appear as pretexts for war but which may also reflect his views. So many lives have already been lost because of the peculiar circumstances and character of this solitary individual, fearful of Covid and a Ukraine of his imagination.

Lawrence Freedman

Posted Feb 26, 2022 in Hope for the future.

The origins of the crisis lie not in Ukraine but in Moscow. This war is all about keeping Vladimir Putin in power. He fears an invasion of democracy – coming over the border from Ukraine – which could threaten his position.

No-one on the western side made any written or formal guarantees about NATO expansion in 1991. But the debate about whether the Soviet Union could reasonably have inferred from what was said a promise not to expand is a red herring. The Russian leadership of 2022 has built its own version of history, including a perceived threat from NATO, to justify its actions.

Leigh Turner, Russia-Ukraine war explainer

Posted Feb 25, 2022 in Hope for the future.

Summer Brennan Revisits the Genius of “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”:

The fascination with sex and monsters comes, I think, from this borderland, which we all inhabited at one time, when the disgust mechanisms ingrained in our childhood selves served to protect us from sexuality and its destructive forces. Then the walls are breached, and eroticism seeps in. […] Meat Loaf seeps in too. Or rather, he bursts through the walls on a motorcycle like a sexy, leather-clad Kool-Aid man.

Posted Jan 27, 2022 in Music.

[T]his is the issue when your brand is equanimity and a willingness to listen to anyone: if you both have on many more guests associated with one side of the cultural divide than the other, and you are selectively harsh as an interviewer depending on your whims, it’s hard not to conclude that the openness is a pose designed to camouflage a specific political project.

Joe Rogan, Parody of the Open Mind, Freddie deBoer

Posted Jan 19, 2022 in Arts & Culture.