Posts by R A Hurley

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  • Hard News: A welcome return - and pirates!,

    In all seriousness, though. Does this billboard campaign seem more than a little sad to anyone else? Like an attempt to cash in on the cutting edge science of electioneering circa 2005?

    OK. Last one, I promise.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A welcome return - and pirates!,

    Yup. Get it while they’ll let it.

    I agree. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A welcome return - and pirates!, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    This would be an appropriate time to present a billboard I prepared earlier. How's that for foresight!

    Oooh! This is fun!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Still sounds good,

    OK. Having just run out of funding for what little is left of my PhD - and thus contemplating 3 months of little more than rice with vegetable stock and the bruised, forlorn fruit still left at the vegetable markets by the time I get there - here is my effort to win a ticket to the Bodega show this Friday:

    For me, the very best Shayne Carter material is the very early Dimmer stuff from the mid-90s, when you couldn't be entirely sure that Dimmer even existed for more than a couple of weeks a year. Admittedly, it's a points decision. 12 rounds with The DoubleHappys in my mental boxing ring resulted in no knockout. What I love about this era's Dimmer - and about The DoubleHappys at their very best - was the beautifully minimal quality of the music when contrasted against the vocals. Consider 'Dawn's Coming In' from the B-side of the 'Crystalator' single. I remember when I first heard that track, heard that snare beat. "WHACK," it said. Then again, twice in quick succession: "WHACK/WHACK." And I remember thinking to myself "Wait, are you ALLOWED to do that? Won't someone come to your house and take your super special musician's club membership badge away unless you flash it up a bit?" And the WHOLE track was like that. It had a creep to it. It was obviously oh-so-carefully composed, yet it felt so minimal and delightfully simple. As a rather over-serious young man with a cheap Fender copy of his own, who had somehow acquired the belief that unless you could two-handed fret-tap you weren't really a musician, it really was a revelation. "YOU could do this," it said. "But you can't just be minimal, you'll also have to be CLEVER."

    And Dimmer were certainly that. For against the often deceptive nature of the music was set Carter's remarkable gift for hooks. But if the hooks weren't in the music, where were they? I'm glad you asked! The intellect and craft evident in early Dimmer tracks like 'Dawn's Coming In' and 'Don't Make Me Buy Out Your Silence,' not to mention DoubleHappys songs like 'Big Fat Elvis' and 'I Don't Want To See You Again,' is, I think, best perceived in the way that the vocals carry earworm melodies that aren't explicitly signposted by the music. Indeed, the music often seemed so minimal as to have permitted almost anything. Compare the pulsing bass of 'Dawn's Coming In' with the quiet ups and downs of the vocals. Or the almost ornate vocal delivery of 'Big Fat Elvis' compared with the relatively simple guitar chug which animates it. Imagine, for instance, what The Datsuns might have done - for the Lay-Dares, no doubt - with a guitar chug like that. (I'm sorry to have done that to you… but you do see what I mean, right?) The same is true of the vocal delivery of 'I Don't Want To See You Again.' All that ducking and diving over, what, 4 chords? Yes. The very best Shayne Carter material, for me at least, is where that remarkable voice is set free with only minimal instrumental supervision. In those situations, if you're paying attention, it's hard not to think: "Wait. This guy might just be one of the best singers New Zealand has ever produced… Tell The People!"

    Oh wait. Was I meant to choose just one? Umm… got to go with 'Dawn's Coming In.' For the above reasons. OK. Carry on.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Busytown: Testing, 1 2 3,

    i would also like to just briefly agree with Matthew and Kate... this wonderful piece NEEDS to be published somewhere or otherwise given as wide a readership as is practically possible...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dear John,

    We'll hear "common sense" conjured as a means of diversion from troublesome advice – and perhaps we should be worried about that. Because sometimes "common sense" is the most dangerous thing.

    Preach it, Russell! This is the main thing that really worries me about this government. The seemingly willful dismissal of policy based on evidence and research in favour of what feels right (e.g., Tolley's education standards), or what will appeal to the Talkback Taliban (e.g., car crushing). Other than that, I have to give it up for Key. Just after the election I spent a lot of time worrying that he was the cardboard cutout in front of a cabinet line-up of unreconstructed 1990s privatisers and razor-men - whom he would be powerless to stop if they decided to actually run the country.

    Actually... I still worry about that. But he does actually seem - against all odds - to be in charge. Still, the qualities that appear to have gotten him there - and that appear to be maintaining his position - seem predicated on exactly that kind of appeal to truthiness that bothers me.

    Actually... now I've just gone and talked myself out of the respect I just claimed I had for him...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Be the party of good science,

    It's not necessarily for there to be any conspiricy, R A. That's the gist of Manufacturing Consent, and other commentary on this matter; it could be a systemic problem.

    God no. Didn't mean to imply that. It isn't a shadowy cabal just accountants maximising the amount of money made in the media. that it no longer meets the wants of the public is irrelevant to them so long as they can sell the product.

    Interesting. If I understand you correctly, the argument is something like: the media industry has become de facto incentivised (economically) to encourage journalism to be more superficial (and therefore cheaper, i guess), but not so superficial as to actually cause significant numbers of people to switch off the TV in disgust. In other words, the system as a whole trends to a point just above the bottom of the barrel.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Be the party of good science,

    When you add into the equation the factor that many media people believe the public can be convinced to want something they don't otherwise want...

    This is a very good point, and - if true - goes a long way to negating my position. But, as to the truth of it, I can't say. Watching 'Century of the Self' and being addicted to Mad Men aren't qualification enough to argue that one.

    Having said that. I'm sceptical for two reasons. Firstly, are people really homogenous enough to be subtly manipulated in great enough numbers to allow you to get away with cutting a few corners on the investigative journalism front? Is the effort worth the reward? And secondly, it does seem to imply a kind of top-down, shadowy cabal, kind of deliberate manipulation. I wonder if that's really what goes on in the boardrooms of big media companies.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Be the party of good science,

    No, we wouldn't. The public - all of them that I've encountered - do want higher quality reporting and commentary on public affairs. But print news media is a dying commodity entertainment product, and high quality journalism costs money that eats into owners (most non-existent already) profits. Broadcast media could do better, but again, high quality journalism costs money and may not be 'sexy' in televisual terms. And that's before you get into any conflicts of interest between news programmes on advertising-funded TV channels.

    i understand your point, but what is "'sexy' in televisual terms" is driven by ratings, is it not? ratings might be a flawed measurement - and from what little i've heard, they are - but they are, despite this, broadly populist... advertising must also pay heed to viewer/reader numbers...

    i might be wrong about all of this... i really don't know... and i don't mean to seem combative... but it seems reasonable that the existing model - dying commodity entertainment newspapers and conflict-of-interest with advertising news programmes alike - must be being rewarded in the marketplace... and, with advertising and sales figures being such prominent metrics, at least some of that reward must be coming from public patronage...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Be the party of good science,

    The only reason this occurs is because of the lack of will and talent displayed by journalists. When journalists only want a one sentence answer then complex issues can never be explained. When interviewers interrupt and derail experts who are trying to explain things then the public never even has the chance.

    I agree with you entirely. But this, in turn, raises the question of why the media is in such a sorry state? If a majority of the public really wanted better journalism, wouldn't we have it?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

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