This Is What it Sounded Like

This month I listened to the non-fiction book This Is What It Sounds Like by Dr. Susan Rogers and Ogi Ogas. The blurb pitches it as a neurological summary of how the brain interprets music and how individuals develop listener "profiles" across three conscious and four subconscious musical attributes.

I loved the concept of this book, because I enjoy both music of almost all varieties, as well as thinking about music. Ultimately the book was 30% neurology, 30% listening skills and 40% Susan Rogers biography. None of this was bad as it seems like Susan Rogers has lived an interesting life. Perhaps it's because I chose the audio book, some parts appealed to my book-listener profile and other parts felt unnecessary. I wish I had read this as a physical book where I could have seen the shape of the paragraphs before reading them, and been more easily able to pause and reflect/digest the fact I was just presented.

The seven facets of music I learned about were Authenticity, Realism, Novelty along with Melody, Rhythm, Lyrics and Timbre. Some of this was reminiscent of This Is Your Brain on Music which I enjoyed 13 years ago and which inspired several Rip It Up reviews (and which taught me the word "timbre") but which I've also forgotten a lot of. Perhaps that's part of why I'm recording the lessons here for future reference.

I most definitely would have got a dozen review structures out of this book a dozen years ago. I also confirmed my musical sweet spot is quite broad according to the quadrants prescribed by Dr Rogers. I enjoy personal ballads and swaggering hip hop. I dig an acoustic guitar and an 808. I'm drawn to new concepts and the classics. I'll groove to the downbeat, the backbeat or the high hat. Basically I'm like 19 year or Brad at the bar. If it comes in a bottle, I'm drinking it. There was a paragraph near the end talking about guilty pleasures and I was at a blank trying to identify my own. I don't feel any guilt about Creedence Clearwater Revival, JT featuring Timberland, Party Favor, Falling in Reverse, Taylor Swift, K-Pop hip hop, Diplo mash ups, or Kid Kenobi dropping Purple Funky Monkey. None of those will have the longevity of oral histories passed down for generations and stored across hemispheres, but they all work for me. Thanks to this book I can now also more accurately assess why they bring me pleasure.


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If you met yourself from the future, what would you ask your future self?
What if they wont tell you anything?


Dusty

Living in 2022 and attending technology conventions makes it all the more clear that the future has not turned out the way Philip K Dick imagined it back in the sixties.

X

Books Can Be Deceiving

Today I was yet again asked by a stranger who saw my wrist cast if I had punched someone. And I finally managed to shave on the weekend too... I told them, No. Do I really look like the kind of person who would punch someone? Do I not look exactly like the kind of person who would fall uncoordinatedy off a push bike at low speed and shatter?

Anyway, today my book was The Truth by Terry Pratchett. During my lunchbreak I sat in the sun in the botanical gardens and it was pleasant.


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Don Quixote is an Inspiration

Quote:
Wouldn't it be better to stay quietly at home? Instead of looking for better bread than what’s made from wheat, and forgetting that many a man’s gone out shearing and come back shorn?

It's also very long so I haven't finished the second part after starting it in 2016.

Quote:
Long live the memory of Amadis, and let him be imitated as well as is possible by Don Quixote de la Mancha, of whom it shall be said what was said of another: if he did not achieve great things, he died in the attempt.

What Did I Learn From 1300 years of European History This Week?

I've had a lot of free time this past week to consume nearly all of Dan Jones' summary of the middle ages: Powers and Thrones, and what I have learned is that every human in history has been born into a life of violence, suffering and a meaningless search for purpose before fading into the obscurity of statistics. And also about the Mongols which is cool I guess.

The Left Hand of Darkness

I was passed a copy of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness by one of my early writing mentors a few years ago. It is a classic of Science Fiction. I remember taking it home, opening the first page and immediately being disgusted by this fact. My copy lacked any introduction, and the story immediately lurched to a halt in my mind as a cavalcade of invented words spilled from the page. (I think it was the Gossiwors which triggered me). Why was this a classic of Science Fiction - so immediately dry and unwelcoming - and not some dumb thing that I had written, like what if time travel was powered by love maybe? And there were some good jokes?

Since that day both Le Guin and that mentor have died and then I found myself picking up the copy I still had on my bookshelf last weekend when I had a big salad that needed eating outside. This time I persisted, reading the first 100 densely packed pages (single-spaced, no margins) over the course of a week, and then the final 100 pages this weekend. Le Guin really was a Science Fiction master, and it had been my younger self who was disgusting with his haste to dismiss this. It was, in fact, everything I've been lamenting about modern day Science Fiction. It's an adventure, enriched by lore and gibberish - sure - but it stands on its own as an exciting, intriguing tale of an envoy on a mission to a foreign planet. It touches on some big themes like gender, sexuality, politics and religion. Themes which have only grown bigger since. But none of these themes are imposed or foisted upon the reader. They're buried in the complex world building and well-crafted dialogue and you digest them purely through the consumption of the story. I was very impressed.

Books of 2021

I digested a whole lot of books in 2021. Was this better for me than watching TV? Who knows. But to celebrate I’m going to review all the ones I gave 5 stars. In alphabetical order.

A Calling for Charlie Barnes by Joshua Ferris
Ferris is a literary author with the punchy prose of a thriller writer and the comedic timing of Larry David. There were moments in the first half of this novel where the characters and circumstances were so expertly written into sitcom style awkwardness I couldn’t help but marvel at the setup. Which is impressive, considering the topic of the novel is, at that stage, dying:

Cancer of the pancreas is the piano that falls from the sky. You have time to glance up, maybe. Then, splat! Like a bug on the cosmic grille.

It really was a novel of two parts, and while the second took a different turn that initially left me longing for the awkward, hyper-detailed comedy narrative of the first, in the end I can’t fault Ferris for breaking with typical conventions, and writing a story that really is about sons and fathers and how they exist in each other's minds.

Driving the Deep by Suzanne Palmer
The thing I most love about Palmer’s science-fiction stories is that they are, for the most part, pure adventure. While themes are touched on, for the most part its good versus evil, heroes versus villains, mind versus matter, across an amazing, imaginative array of locations and characters across the solar system.

What I liked most about Driving the Deep, in contrast to the other books in Fergus Ferguson’s chronicles, were the lonesome moments in the submarine under the ice of Enceladus. Even though here the action - finally - slows a little, there was something about these pieces that conveyed a sense of awe for the setting, the tickle of the overall puzzle, the anticipation. They were masterfully done.

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
I’ve been reading my way through the Discworld series over the past two years. Some are better than others, but I’m a fan of The Watch series’ most of all, in part because they are the earliest example I can recall of a detective story in a speculative fiction setting. The scene where Angua sees the colours of the smells as she hunts for clues has stuck with me since childhood, and was definitely one of my major influences for Baxter Adamson. Pratchett is also one of those authors that was given - or earned - permission to put jokes into his stories even if they serve no purpose to the plot. I’d like to have that distinction one day too.

Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz
I am insanely jealous of Horowitz, who writes so well he makes me feel bad a little. How many other authors in the world churn out a whole, full length Agatha Christie style mystery that takes up 50,000 words inside their actual detective novel? Just for the sake of a plot. And then fills the inside book and the outside book with clever references and clues just to turn 600 pages into a playful, captivating mystery novel with a great payoff? He writes on hard mode and it only seems to make him better.

Napoleon the Great
A superbly assembled biography of Napoleon Bonaparte, at 976 pages it’s not short but like the Grande Armée it moves deceptively fast. Mostly chronological, it zooms in and out it as suits the story of a fascinating character, rich with minute details and trivialities as well as the main mechanics of all the relevant political, cultural and tactical moments. Widely sourced and relatively objective. It was the perfect distraction for two weeks in a sling after my shoulder operation.

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
Turton’s follow up to The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was completely disconnected from his debut, but was another epic fantasy-thriller. Turton writes with such an effective, dark and chilling voice. He is a artist of intrigue and keeps pages turning. Another adventure that branches into not so common territory and totally nails it.

The Searcher by Tana French
I recall that French learned to write commercial crime novels after being brought up as a dancer, or something like that. Her Dublin Murder series highlighted this, with plots and twists that moved smoothly then swiftly, pirouetted, and always had a feel to them that no other Irish crime series could match - and there are a lot of those.

In The Searcher French writes a standalone mystery that isn’t particularly grand in scale, or fast moving, or even has much of a twist. Perhaps it was having read this book on the tail of a few other less “enriched” novels but the words on these pages were perfect in the way that they put you into the wet, Irish countryside. The players in the tale and their dialogue were real, nuanced and their lives felt completely fleshed out. As a study of character and scene it was excellent, and the story itself did the setting justice.

image 2310 from bradism.com

My goal last year was to read 35 books and in total I read 14,647 pages across 40 books. Which, coincidentally, is just 40 pages a day. That doesn’t seem so bad. Still, I think this year I will set my goal to read one book a month. I don’t want to create a mental hook that makes me want to consume just for the sake of increasing a number. I already do that with steps, music, the share market and journal entries.

What I did on my Summer Holidays 2021 Edition

It's semi-often that I get eleven consecutive days without work. That's like an Easter, an Adelaide Cup long weekend, plus Anzac Day, and plain old regular Sunday all wrapped up.

Given this is my journal I thought it might be pertinent to repeat my previous summer break traditions of preserving an essence of those long summer days for posterity, unlike the other 354 days of the year which are abandoned in the mists of time, distance, and as usual the damaging effects of alcohol on the brain.

December 25th
Christmas morning started with a beach walk with Nash on the sands of Grange. Lunch was at Dad's with many extended family members. It was a nice time.

image 2299 from bradism.com

December 26th
First thing on Boxing Day was a hike up Mount Lofty where for the first time ever I got a car park at Waterfall Gully. After we reached the summit we sat down for some choc-raspberry-oats and yoghurt. I saw black cockatoos and sulphur crested cockatoos.

image 2300 from bradism.com

After that was a trip to the homemaker centre and big box hardware, and following a salad I set about knocking off half my break's todo list with the things I brought home. Alas, these were all the easy things like attaching sticky hooks to the shelf by the front door, and attaching a new hose head.

Finally, before the sun got too low, I rode to Alex's to meet up with Wilhem and throw a lot of tennis balls.

image 2301 from bradism.com

December 27th
The ten person household limit kicked in, and I attended a small BBQ with Josh, Claire and Timmy.

In the evening I drank a beer and started reading From Russia With Love.

December 28th
After breakfast I rode my bike to St Clair for an Albanian coffee, some more reading time next to some birds, and then I bought heavily discounted custard and rode home.

image 2302 from bradism.com

That evening I ate a sticky date pudding and played Borderlands 2 with Josh and Sam.

December 29th
It was very hot, and so we stayed inside in the dark and watched Matrix Resurrections and had a smoothie.

Later in the afternoon we drove to Aldinga for dinner and another walk on the beach. Nash tried to hunt and kill a partially submerged rock, and got bopped on her bottom by an unexpected wave. Much mirth was shared.

December 30th
Another stinking hot day where we tried to get a long walk in before breakfast, again along the Torrens.

image 2303 from bradism.com

It was around this point that another item on my todo list - Upgrade bradism.com to newer version of PHP and framework - began. I expected it to take me most of the day.

At some point I got sick of holiday software development and drank a beer while making pizzas.

image 2304 from bradism.com

December 31st
Omicron hysteria was everywhere. We went on another Torrens walk, then after breakfast to Costco to buy bulk strawberries and salad.

image 2305 from bradism.com

I did more Bradism upgrading.
In the evening I made Afghan chicken kebabs and then we rode to Semaphore, swam in the ocean, drank champagne in the dark and then rode home.

image 2306 from bradism.com

January 1st
I fixed my flat tyre. The Bradism Upgrade efforts continued. Vanessa made me a mousse cake.

image 2307 from bradism.com

January 2nd
We went walking on the beach in the morning. I forget which beach.

image 2308 from bradism.com

Later in the afternoon I strapped a Bluetooth speaker to my handlebars, told Spotify to play radio based on Don't Stop Believin' and Boston's More than a Feeling. I rode to Glenelg for another ocean beer, and watching the sunset at the Unit with Gus and Timmy.

image 2309 from bradism.com

January 3rd
Invigorated, I slow cooked a pork leg for eight hours and set about trying to finish as much of the second half of my todo list. I ate pulled pork for dinner. The Bradism upgrade continued...

It was a nice break.

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