Tom Rosenthal – How have you been?

A note on Brexit, and putting thy money where thy mouth is

25463076012_eaab9345d4_bThere’s a lot of (justified) outrage on social media about Brexit, but what are you planning to actually do about it? 

Networks are too often passive and used to observe. I am writing in the hope that it encourages you to participate in our democracy and take the opportunity to make your voice heard.

You are not powerless. Writing to your MP is simple and I think will make a difference: if you’ve got the strength of feeling to actually write to them rather than just sign an online petition, then they are more likely to actually represent you.   

Please find two attachments, both templates of letters to MPs. One is by my friend Benet Brandreth, the other is a group effort to which I contributed. I hope you will find them helpful and perhaps use them to write your own letter. Your MP and MEPs details can be found at

Last word to Benet: 

Like many people in the UK, though sadly not all, I found the vote to Leave and both the immediate and prospective consequences of it, devastating and heart-breaking. It does not seem an idle matter to me. I worry deeply about a course that seems likely to destroy the Union and impoverish the country morally and economically. It also appears to me a course that diverts vital political capital from the deep, underlying problems that have manifested themselves in the vote to Leave.
“But please do write. Now is the moment. If there is any good to come of this, let it be that we become more politically active. These are our rights at stake, our country, our sense of community.
Channel your passion on this important matter. Do something about it. If you do nothing, nothing will change.

Click below to download:

Letter ONE: No Brexit letter

Letter TWO: no brexit letter 02

Jack and his fiddle

“Jacky, come and give me thy fiddle,
If ever thou mean to thrive.”
“Nay, I’ll not give my fiddle
To any man alive.

“If I should give my fiddle,
They’ll think that I’ve gone mad;
For many a joyous day
My fiddle and I have had.”

(It’s an old nursery rhyme)

The man who hears everything (“That’s a good beep, Lar”) – modern arts and crafts

Seen first in The Week, I’ve extracted this from Jordan Kisner‘s piece in The Guardian, Audio version is here.


Skip Lievsay, an unassuming-looking guy in his mid-60s with highly trained ears, stood before the stacks of speakers and giant movie screen in his office, fussing quietly. Lievsay is one of the preeminent sound designers working in film today, and whatever he does – whether it’s fussing or making jokes or padding down the hall of his New York offices to murmur instructions to employees – he does it quietly, as if his personal volume dial operates in inverse correlation to the often noisy task at hand.

On this midwinter afternoon, he was meeting with one of his effects editors, a similarly soft-spoken young man named Larry Zipf, about a film they had been hired to work on: Miles Ahead, a forthcoming Miles Davis biopic directed by and starring Don Cheadle.

The two men stood with their arms crossed and heads cocked at the same angle, reviewing a scene in which a sound cue they had designed had gone awry. The sound, originally of vintage tape decks turning, had ended up evoking a sci-fi odyssey rather than a jazz biopic. One of the problems, it was agreed, is that to the untrained ear, 1970s tape decks sound a bit like lasers.

On screen, Cheadle entered an elevator and pushed the button for the lobby. The button emitted a soft, innocuous beep. “That’s a good beep, Lar,” Lievsay muttered. “Good beep.”

As he said so, Cheadle-as-Miles leaned against the wood-panelled elevator wall, eyes closed. Suddenly, the elevator swung open to reveal a dark room of Miles’s imagination, filled only with a piano, a horn, and a spotlight. The moment was intended to feel surreal, as though you were entering Miles’s mind, but as the door began to swing, a deep rumble erupted into a volley of zings and swishes – those troublesome tape decks – as if the scene had plunged into a battle in outer space.

Lievsay hit pause and turned to Larry, shaking his head. No good.

For research, Lievsay had spent a few months reading biographies and listening through all the recordings in the Miles Davis estate: Miles interviews, Miles in the studio, Miles in concert, Miles on the street. He briefly tried to compile a timeline of every recording Miles ever made, then gave up. The film is set in the 1970s, “which is Bitches Brew Miles”, Lievsay explained, a period when Miles favoured improvisational rhythms and electric instruments over traditional jazz. The research had led to the idea of experimenting with recording equipment of the sort that Miles would have used. Lievsay thought that they might fit moments that called for more abstract sound design, such as when Cheadle wanted to evoke Miles’s agitated mental state. “He was a creature of the studio,” Lievsay explained, taking off thin-rimmed glasses and rubbing one eye. “The sounds of his mental landscape would probably have been the sounds you’d hear in a recording studio, like tape decks or the click of instruments.”

They had got their hands on some vintage tape decks and spent an afternoon recording the sound of them playing forward and backward, clicking and scrubbing. But when Zipf edited the sounds and played them underneath scenes from the movie, the result sounded like Battlestar Galactica, not old-fashioned music equipment. Lievsay sighed. “Probably because sound editors used to use tape decks when they needed space sounds. Bet you Battlestar Galactica was tape decks.” He threw the noises out and started over.

It is a central principle of sound editing that people hear what they are conditioned to hear, not what they are actually hearing. The sound of rain in movies? Frying bacon. Car engines revving in a chase scene? It’s partly engines, but what gives it that visceral, gut-level grist is lion roars mixed in. To be excellent, a sound editor needs not just a sharp, trained ear, but also a gift for imagining what a sound could do, what someone else might hear. Continue reading

Aim Higher and Breakfast, Dallas Clayton is RAD



Bonus ‘Lily The Unicorn’


The Old Man And The Sea (animated, paint on glass, by hand, by golly and by gosh)

“It is silly not to hope, he thought.”

This was the first animated film to be released in IMAX. A 1999 paint-on-glass-animated short film directed by Aleksandr Petrov, based on the novel of the same name by Ernest Hemingway. The film won many awards, including the Academy Award for Animated Short Film.

Work on the film took place in Montreal over a period of two and a half years and was funded by an assortment of Canadian, Russian and Japanese companies. French and English-language soundtracks to the film were released concurrently.

I like the bit around here.

(Spotted on B3TA)

Happy brains and a year of ping pong

What’s an enigmatologist? It’s Will Shortz, puzzle editor of The New York Times since 1993. He’s the only academically accredited one in the world, having designed his own major program at Indiana University, which in 1974 led to his one-of-a-kind degree in enigmatology.

Mr. Shortz also received a law degree from the University of Virginia. When he entered law school, he said, “my plan was to practice law for 10 years, make a lot of money, and then retire to do what I really wanted — create puzzles.” However, law was not creative enough for him, and after graduating, he skipped the bar exam and began his career in puzzles immediately.

He challenged himself to play table tennis every day for a year — and Supermarché NYC challenged him to film it. As Will says “If you’re gonna set a goal for yourself then follow the goal.”

Antarctica. And it’s a kind of paradise.

Do yourself a favour and full-screen this beauty. I grew up on stories of the Antarctic. My distant uncle (great great?) was one of Shackleton’s furthest south crew, my Dad went a few times, writing stories, making documentaries and lecturing on tourist ships. Some of the footage here is achingly beautiful. A different flavour of armchair tourism compared to the up-close Attenborough documentaries. Really lovely.

Director Kalle Ljung says: “This movie was shot during our 20 days trip to Antarctica in December 2014 to January 2015. We started from Ushuaia in Argentina and went to Port Williams in Chile, rounded Cape Horn and crossed the Drake Passage towards the Melchior Islands in Antarctica. We spent 16 days in the Antarctic and got to experience the most amazing scenery and wildlife before we returned back to Ushuaia.”

An Object At Rest – the life of a stone

Seth Boyden created an amazing animation as his final thesis at CalArts. A very gentle edge of Belleville to it, “An Object At Rest” follows the course of a stone over millennia. Enjoy.



“When I was done dying” – beautiful, swooping animation to sound


Saw this on the amazing BOOOOOOM, where founder Jeff Hamada writes:

“Animators Jake Fried, Chad Vangaalen, Dimitri Stankowicz, Colin White, Taras Hrabowsky, Anthony Schepperd, Masanobu Hiraoka, KOKOFreakbean and Caleb Woodwere recently tapped to create a special episode of Adult Swim’s Off The Air. The piece seamlessly weaves its way through different interpretations of the afterlife, set to the tune of Dan Deacon’s “When I Was Done Dying”.

The still (above) comes from Masanobu Hiraoka’s section of the film because he’s my favourite and his work is next level (proof).”

From the Vimeo page:

“Tapping nine unique and talented animators (whose work had all appeared previously on the show) to create a beautiful and seamless journey through the afterlife to the great song “When I Was Done Dying” by Dan Deacon.

“Short interviews with Dan and the animators can be found here:

“And please check out other episodes of Off The Air here:
Or stream it here:

“Animators in order of appearance:
Jake Fried, Chad Vangaalen, Dimitri Stankowicz, Colin White, Taras Hrabowsky, Anthony Schepperd, Masanobu Hiraoka, Caleb Wood, KOKOFreakbean”

“We smell sausage!” Mark Mothersbaugh has an amazing synth collection

A glorious McSweeney post – “Why you should not have broken up with me, according to various critical theories”

This cracking piece is by Tommy Wallach:



Ferdinand de Saussure famously said, “In language there are only differences.” What he meant by this was that words have no meaning except insofar as they contrast with other words. Thus my failure to hold down a job for more than a month cannot implicitly carry the meaning of “failure” ascribed to it by you, Tandy. A word such as “unemployed” carries a semantic value only in terms of its partner word “employed,” just as “flat broke” defines itself relatively to “financially independent” and “manic-depressive” to “emotionally stable.” The noble goal of deconstruction is to overturn these simplistic oppositions and, in Derrida’s words, reject a “hierarchizing teleology” of language. In short, the deconstructionists certainly would not approve of my being compared to our more “successful” friends, such as Steven, who grew up in a wealthy household and whose job at the New Yorker is a clear-cut case of nepotism.



Marx believed that the arc of history bends inevitably towards a more equitable distribution of the means of production, but that the battle for socialism would be a long one. I’m confident he would agree that my current financial straits are an inevitable result of the current socioeconomic moment, rather than “a permanent shitstorm born out of sheer laziness,” as you described it in your letter. In spite of your attending that Occupy rally last year, which I missed because I was hung over from drinking too much at your work party (you’re welcome for supporting you, BTW), you seem to have forgotten the socialist credo: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” If you were ever incapable of making rent on your own, I certainly would have been willing to get a job in order to help out. But you always insisted on focusing on the negative; you had no trouble criticizing me when I couldn’t pay for dinner, but you never thanked me for going to the trouble of ordering it in the first place.



Structuralist readings of texts tend to collapse differences, seeing the underlying patterns and paradigms and ignoring surface variations. Viewed this way, our relationship is really no different from that of Romeo and Juliet. True, we did not overcome decades of internecine violence and the harsh judgments of our families in order to be together, but all of your friends did originally tell you not to date me, because of my criminal record and facial tattoos. To focus on the things that make us different from other couples—my request that you not look me in the eyes during meals or sex, the fact that I’ve yet to introduce you to my parents even though I still live with them, my insistence that you give up your cat for adoption because of my childhood attraction to Catwoman—is a failure of intellectual rigor on your part. Our relationship is all relationships, and don’t all relationships involve some amount of compromise and/or abandonment of one’s more physically attractive cats?



Life is meaningless, and any attempt to find connection through human relationship is doomed to failure. In other words, your insistence that I support you and validate your existence was misguided from the start. Also, your stubborn belief that it was “wrong” of me to send those late-night texts to your best friend, Sarah, posits a dualistic notion of good/bad that is belied by human experience. There is no such thing as morality, only authenticity (i.e. acting in accordance with one’s freedom). And there was nothing inauthentic in the way that I asked Sarah if she was “down to clown around on the town, Leroy Brown” (though her refusal on the grounds that she was your best friend reeked of bourgeois conformism).



Looking at the data, our relationship was clearly a winner. We were together for three years—more than 10% of our lives. Have you held on to anything else for that long, other than that cat you were so attached to before we got together? By my calculation, I spent over $2000 on gifts and meals for you during our relationship, which represents more than 15% of my earned income over that period, if you include the money I got from that settlement with the guy in the motorized wheelchair who ran over my foot at that AA meeting. And while I can’t speak for you, I’ve achieved orgasm in 98% of our sexual encounters (and the other 2% are accounted for by times the commercial break ended and I willingly forewent climax). The numbers don’t lie, Tandy; unlike your friend Sarah, who gave me her word she wouldn’t tell you about those texts I sent.



All questions must, in the end, be settled within the cultural and social context in which they are raised, yet you insist on viewing our relationship through the lens of your parents’ relationship, in spite of the fact that this represents a reactionary, pre-feminist interpretation of man as “provider.” And sure, it’s technically true that both of your parents had careers, and that your mother was significantly more successful in her field than your father was in his, and yet that didn’t cause any problems because they were both happy and fulfilled in their own way. But Tandy, it’s unfair (not to mention philosophically untenable) to take us out of our historical moment. The job market is bad for everyone, and for no one so much as an ex-con with an uncompleted minor in philosophy. Then again, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised you’re giving up on me. Looking at the history, it’s clear you’ve always been a quitter: I mean, look at how quickly you gave up on that cat.


This piece originally appeared on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, which you can find here.

Night sky time lapse corrected to show earth moving rather than stars. Gorgeous.

Full screen, HD, you can thank me later.

“From the frame of reference of a human on earth, it can seem that the stars move across the night sky. In fact, it is just the rotation of the earth that constantly reveals new parts of the night sky.
By using software to track the stars and keep them still, the rotation of the earth is revealed.” More vids on Alex Rivest’s channel here.

(Via B3TA)

Life advice from Werner Herzog (via @Kottke)

Werner Herzog Bear

Paul Cronin’s book of conversations with filmmaker Werner Herzog is called Werner Herzog – A Guide for the Perplexed. On the back cover of the book, Herzog offers a list of advice for filmmakers that doubles as general purpose life advice.

1. Always take the initiative.
2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.
4. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.
5. Learn to live with your mistakes.
6. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.
7. That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it.
8. There is never an excuse not to finish a film.
9. Carry bolt cutters everywhere.
10. Thwart institutional cowardice.
11. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
12. Take your fate into your own hands.
13. Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape.
14. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory.
15. Walk straight ahead, never detour.
16. Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver.
17. Don’t be fearful of rejection.
18. Develop your own voice.
19. Day one is the point of no return.
20. A badge of honor is to fail a film theory class.
21. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema.
22. Guerrilla tactics are best.
23. Take revenge if need be.
24. Get used to the bear behind you.

I bet this is some of the stuff you learn at Herzog’s Rogue Film School:

The Rogue Film School is not for the faint-hearted; it is for those who have travelled on foot, who have worked as bouncers in sex clubs or as wardens in a lunatic asylum, for those who are willing to learn about lockpicking or forging shooting permits in countries not favoring their projects. In short: for those who have a sense of poetry. For those who are pilgrims. For those who can tell a story to four year old children and hold their attention. For those who have a fire burning within. For those who have a dream.


The trouble with geraniums

A lesson from Mervyn Peake to start the new year:


The trouble with geraniums
is that they’re much too red!
The trouble with my toast is that
it’s far too full of bread.

The trouble with a diamond
is that it’s much too bright.
The same applies to fish and stars
and the electric light.

The troubles with the stars I see
lies in the way they fly.
The trouble with myself is all
self-centred in the eye.

The trouble with my looking-glass
is that it shows me, me;
there’s trouble in all sorts of things
where it should never be.

Stormscapes 2 by Nicolaus Wegner is stunning, majestic and powerful. Full screen, immediately!

He says on his Vimeo page: “High plains storms are some of the most beautiful and wild in the world. I spent May – September 2014 photographing all types of severe weather in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Colorado. This time lapse project is a result of that effort. From rainbows to tornadoes, there is a little bit of everything in here.”

Copyright Nicolaus Wegner/lightALIVE Photography. Found by browsing

And if you liked that, watch his first one!



An amazing animation about dependence.


This backpack designed for poor kids does so much more than carry books

What a wonderful idea. And a very good point about the apps.

Pendulum Wave – the sort of demo you’ll remember

Completely agree with Weird Al…except for the split infinitive at 3.27 #wordcrimes