Saturday, November 5, 2011

Compilation! "Tom Waits - Wasted and Wounded"


So Tom Waits has a new album out. Did you know? Oh, come on. Of course you know. For such a proudly 'non-commercial' artist, the proudly 'non-commercial' post-punk record label he currently calls home has certainly pulled out all the stops on marketing this one. And why? Does that mean they're expecting to turn a mighty profit from Tom Waits? There's certainly not much in almost forty years of professional work by this artist that would indicate such a thing is likely.

Jesus. Can it really be forty years? Yes, it can; Waits's début Closing Time came out in 1973, a remarkably long time ago now. So he must have a glut of retrospective compilations to his name, then, right? Well... no, as it happens. He's been compiled, yes, in a haphazard way down the years. But there's never been a compilation that spans his entire recorded output across the three record labels he's worked with, meaning there's never been a single compilation that looks back at more than a single decade or so of his work (with the sole exception of the odds-and-sods compilation Orphans, which is not at all what we're talking about here.

Apart from the whole 'who would buy it?' angle, I can kind of guess why this is. The three 'eras' of Tom Waits's career correspond not merely to record label affiliation but also to decade and to approximate musical genre. This 'Elektra Tom Waits' is seen as almost a different beast altogether to 'Island Tom Waits'. And 'Anti Tom Waits' serves as a kind of 'footnote' to the other two, this despite being the longest and most commercially successful of the three eras.

So I'm giving it a try. After all, the sonic templates may differ, the voice may regress year by year, but everything here is very clearly a singular vision, the work of one artist whose superficial ugliness belies a greater understanding and appreciation of beauty than almost anyone else out there. The nuts and bolts are this: an artist such as Tom Waits could never have a 'greatest hits' collection, but I've attempted both a subjective 'best of' and, in addition to that, a kind of down-the-years 'introduction' featuring his best-known songs. In many cases this means his best-known compositions, which might perhaps have been made famous after being covered by someone else. Though Waits himself has indulged in a handful of covers down the years, I've passed them over in favour of an all-original collection.

I make no attempt to dig through drawers and pull out curios. These are all 'album versions', taken from the standard issue versions of his main body of work. I tried to give each era approximately equal weight (and in fact if you consider the transitional soundtrack to One From the Heart as an 'Island era release', then I've included exactly twelve tracks from each of the three eras), but I didn't attempt to take from every album in his oeuvre and didn't worry about being overly well-rounded in stylistic range: I appear to have a very pronounced preference for the slower material, and my overall collection is noticeably slow in tempo.

Having said that, though, the album is more than adequately eclectic. So how to arrange it? Approaching the material in chronological order does little to 'integrate' the three eras - instead it presents three distinct 'greatest hits' collections stuck together on two CDs. And yet a purposefully mix-and-match approach would merely highlight the discrepancy between the piano-and-strings 'lounge lizard' early era and the rougher, more 'extreme' avant garde 1980s material. I actually spent a good long time working out a tracklist that went from era-to-era not in a jump-cut fashion but in a 'flowing' way, with mini-sets united by mood. In addition, there's a conscious attempt to frontload the package with those best-known tracks that the 'average consumer', if they know anything at all about Waits, is most likely to know.

In discussing inclusions, however, I'll be taking a chronological approach.

Note: in addition to a full tracklisting complete with original album cover and release details, I've included an embedded YouTube window to allow listening. So you can listen to this compilation in its entirety, but 36 embedded YouTube windows is a horrible strain on most browsers. To that end, I've hidden each CD tracklisting behind a 'spoiler tag'. Click on each CD in turn to hear its contents, and be warned that your browser might run a bit slow at first when you do so.
» Click here for the tracklisting of CD1, with embedded YouTube links. «

» Click here for the tracklisting of CD2, with embedded YouTube links. «


Waits's first 'proper' album was Closing Time in 1973, on David Geffen's Elektra Records, home of the California singer-songwriter, something the not-very-gravelly artist certainly was at this point. I've taken three tracks from this user-friendly disc, the well-known 'Ol' 55', its neighbour 'I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love With You' and the lesser-known gorgeous piano ballad 'Martha'. Demos recorded before this first major release and collected on 'Early Years' compilations are overlooked here for the reason that Waits himself doesn't appear to approve of their release. And if someone who embraces the ugly and the incidental as much as Waits doesn't want these tracks seen as part of his body of work, well we ought to respect that.

The 'last call' motif of that début album's title presents us with the key to Waits's 1970s output: the bar. Or perhaps the 'lounge' - Waits himself was a heavy drinker during these years, which no doubt contributed to the deterioration of his voice but also to the establishment of his main theme: bar culture, and the lives of those who populate them. The Heart of Saturday Night, Waits's 1974 follow-up, aims for a touch of vérité in its world-weary title track '(Looking for) The Heart of Saturday Night', while 'Shiver Me Timbers' maintains the confessional tone of the début. Both, it goes without saying, are gorgeous. A double-length follow-up recorded 'live' in a studio-cum-nightclub furthers the barfly theme, though I've taken nothing from it for inclusion here.

Small Change, from 1976, remains in all probability the peak of Waits's artistic accomplishment. 'Tom Traubert's Blues' may or may not be his best-known song, but all these years later it remains the single most effective introduction to the man, his most jaw-droppingly touching recording and in all likelihood his meisterwerk. I let it open the collection, a well-earned accolade for a truly incredible piece. 'Invitation to the Blues' similarly starts off my second disc, while for me the slightly-too-clever 'The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)' might be a step down in quality, though I'm clearly a minority here as regards another of Waits's 'signature pieces'.

1977's Foreign Affairs, the follow-up, is perhaps less notable, though I've found room for 'I Never Talk to Strangers', a highly evocative duet with Bette Midler taken straight out of a musical stage production that exists only in the minds of listeners. Released a year later, Blue Valentine features the spare guitar-only almost-title-track 'Blue Valentines' in addition to 'Romeo is Bleeding', one of only two spoken-word hipster epics that I've included. Heartattack and Vine, from 1980, would prove to be Waits's last album for Elektra, amid whisperings that Waits had lost it creatively and was content to coast along with a predictable formula. I find that hard to believe, frankly, and 'Jersey Girl', my final Elektra-era inclusion, is one of those classics that mine such a rare beauty that it seems ridiculous to grumble about sonic diversity.

Homeless between labels, Waits recorded a soundtrack on CBS for a Francis Ford Coppola film called One from the Heart, with Crystal Gayle as foil for a series of beauty-and-the-beast duets. From the 1982 release, I've included the opening track, a medley of three different compositions that carries a particularly cinematic mood, even while tied down to the traditional 1970s instrumentation Waits was inches away from shucking off, permanently. To give its name in full: 'Opening Montage (Tom's Piano Intro / Once Upon a Town / The Wages of Love)'.

Swordfishtrombones was not only Waits's first album for major/minor Island Records. It was also his first proper album of the 1980s (1983, to be precise) and the first of a trilogy that took up most of that decade. It was also his first 'avant garde' piece, a collection of tiny compositions buried beneath junkyard percussion and non-rock instrumentation. Weird, yes. An acquired taste, yes. But worth the effort? Yes, absolutely. From this second début I've taken the confrontational '16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought Six' and the jokey two-minute 'poetry reading' 'Frank's Wild Years'.

Rain Dogs was the follow-up two years later, in the same vein but in my eyes even better, with the Rod Stewart-covered pop evergreen 'Downtown Train' alongside the beautiful ballad 'Time' as two of fully nineteen tracks on a single vinyl album. The 'trilogy' wound up with 1987's Franks Wild Years, home to the much-covered 'Temptation' and 'Way Down in the Hole', which in later years would serve as theme song to an HBO show called The Wire. The album also contained two versions of one of Waits's most beautiful-ever songs. 'Innocent When You Dream (78)' is the second, album-concluding rendition, done up like an old vinyl recording but still timelessly gorgeous.

Another live album I've overlooked follows, and then Night on Earth, a 1992 soundtrack to a Jim Jarmusch film. From it I've taken the relatively brief 'Back in the Good Old World (Gypsy)'. The same year saw Waits's most heavily promoted Island-era release, Bone Machine, a well-received song collection from which I've taken the single 'Goin' Out West' and the much-covered 'I Don't Wanna Grow Up', two songs that hide their genuine feelings behind highly unconventional (i.e. 'weird') instrumentation, such as has become Waits's signature sound. 1993's The Black Rider, a studio version of a musical stage play, would be Waits's last release for six years and his last ever on Island. I've taken the atypically baroque 'The Briar and the Rose' from it.

It wouldn't be until 1999 that Tom Waits released a new album, on Bad Religion's Epitaph Records, or rather their Anti subsidiary. Defiantly indie at last, Waits put out Mule Variations, a critically-lauded album from which I've taken the midtempo ballad 'Hold On' and the lengthy blues song 'Get Behind the Mule' - in each case the instrumentation is just as rough and ragged as in the Island era, but the template is less self-consciously 'experimental'; the instrumentation strictly in service of these out-of-time songs.

Waits followed his 'comeback' in 2002 with two simultaneously-released albums that were in fact, like The Black Rider, studio recordings of stage projects, dating as far back a decade before. From Blood Money we've taken the 'single' 'God's Away on Business', which returns a bit to the Bone Machine Island era, and the softer 'Coney Island Baby', which could have been recorded in the 17th century, if they had had recording media at the time. From Alice, the other 2002 collection, I've taken two gorgeous ornate and terribly sad ballads, 'Alice' and 'Poor Edward', desolate and desperate songs of a rare beauty.

2004 saw Real Gone, a surprisingly guitar-based collection. From it, I've taken the delicate ballad 'Dead and Lovely', and a rather surprising seven-minute political piece called 'Day After Tomorrow', a touching heartfelt piece from an artist whose concerns have tended to be interpersonal rather than international. A 3CD 'grab-bag' collection of older pieces from here and there mixed with new recordings, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards was a surprising commercial success, and from its 56 tracks I've taken only two soundtrack contributions, 'Little Drop of Poison' from Shrek 2, and 'Long Way Home' from Big Bad Love.

Which takes us to... well, to today, after skipping a third live album (one per era), and that soon-to-be commercial breakthrough Bad as Me. So far I haven't fallen in love with it, but like every other Anti release it gets an allotment of two tracks, the title track 'Bad As Me' and the tiny little 'Get Lost' - something that Waits seems entirely unable to do, even as he's spent decades now wandering without a map, far removed from convention. That he's managed never to get lost all these years despite trying seemingly so hard explains how Anti has managed to launch such a pervasive advertising campaign behind him some forty years on from his début.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jandek Covers on Google Street View

I've talked about Jandek before (here and here). I love him - or rather just as much as anyone else, I both love him and hate him. I'm much more fascinated with the man as an idea than I am interested in sitting down and listening to him. But I got to combining my fascination with the man with my fascination with Google Maps Street View, and I tried to 'track down' some of the Irish album covers - with help, of course, from the Jandek mailing list. So here's two of them, the album cover and the Google Maps screencap.

The cover of Jandek's I Threw You Away

Google Maps Street View screenshot of Cork, Ireland

The cover of Jandek's Glasgow Friday

Google Maps Street View screenshot of Bushmills, Northern Ireland

Monday, August 29, 2011

Did It Work?

So it's been a week now. My blog's spent the whole week headlined with a hopelessly out-of-date post about Nycole Turmel, leftover from a previous era of Canadian political history.

It's not that I haven't tried to write about the death of Jack Layton - it's just that everything I wrote sounded trite, insincere, bandwagon-jumping. I might write something some day, once the moment has passed.

Well, the moment is already passing. Today is Monday, the one-week anniversary of his passing and the first weekday after the funeral. A fog has already lifted, that strange feeling that permeated the air last week is already going away. The line in Reverend Hawkes's eulogy, 'Hi Jack, how are we doing?', that mere hours ago had me in tears already seems pretty cheesy. Nycole Turmel is already moving into Stornoway, the Star has a headline with Bob Rae crassly claiming the Liberals can win the 2015 election, and the chalk at City Hall is probably fading away.

But that doesn't mean things are back to normal; I truly believe they aren't. This week was an amazing mix of spontaneous mass emotion and of intelligently crafted calculation: Jack Layton and his team of advisors really did turn this week into a celebration of the New Democratic Party. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting this week was staged. I don't think anyone in the country could have predicted how much emotion would be spilt over Layton's passing. But while the media has a vested interest in shaping the image of the man we mourn as one of a charismatic uniter of people who wanted to change the tone of politics, few Canadians fell for it. This week was very political, and very partisan. This week really was all about the NDP, or hopefully all about how the idealistic, progressive hopes and dreams of a still-strong majority of Canadians are finding focus in the NDP.

For all the people saying people care about Layton and not his party, I think the message was really pushed out there that you can't separate the man from the party. I mean, think about it: the CN Tower and Niagara Falls were turned the colour of the NDP, not the colour that uniquely belonged to one man. Stephen Lewis got a standing ovation (from the Prime Minister too!) for declaring Layton's letter a 'manifesto of social democracy'. There was no sense in any of the official occassions this week that Jack Layton even existed outside of the confines of the party. All of his pallbearers were party luminaries - would anybody else tie himself to his party so closely?

But there was a reason, and it was not by any means 'vainglorious'. It was all about transferring focus to the party, to build something permanent from the transience of human life. To turn despair at the loss of the principal face of opposition to Harper into hope at the establishment of a vehicle of opposition to Harper. TO make it clear to every Canadian that there is only one way to oppose Harper from here on, and the door ain't red.

Did it work?

Well, it'll be tough to tell. No pollster was crass enough to poll last week on party support: it would have been an ugly move, and it wouldn't have told us anything relevant anyway. Even during this cooldown, though, I have a hunch that the NDP is at first place nationwide as we speak, a place it hasn't been since Broadbent. I bet more Canadians see themselves as NDP supporters than see themselves as Conservative supporters at this unfortunately irrelevant juncture years before the next election. And I bet way more Canadians see themselves as NDP supporters than as supporters of Bob Rae's tired and directionless party, where confusion is currently reigning within its ranks over whether or not it should even continue to exist as an independent entity. As much as the media likes to paint the NDP as a headless chicken, aimlessly flapping its wings, consider the following: as high as the NDP's profile, and goodwill towards the NDP, has risen over the past week, is there a single Canadian who is currently saying, 'I supported the NDP just a few weeks ago, but Jack's death and the national response has suddenly made me a Liberal or Conservative'? Leaderless yes, worried about the future certainly... but no longer committed to the party? That's impossible to imagine. We're living in an NDP Canada at the moment, though who knows how long that will last.

There's a long road ahead, and there are countless forces out there wishing the NDP to failure. But I don't think there's any going back now, and the sooner the Liberals realise this the better. The Liberal-propagated fallacy that Canada exists on a binary red-blue axis with the NDP as a sideshow is permanently dead. If anyone wants to talk about door colours, no-one would pretend anymore that the orange door is somehow a lesser choice. I don't want the Liberals to admit defeat; I want them to stop nipping at the NDP's heels and redefine themselves as a party equally comfortable courting current Tory supporters as current NDP supporters. The NDP have the goodwill right now, they have the monopoly on righteousness and on idealism, and that's incredibly valuable - now all they need is the legitimacy. I'm pretty sure they'll be able to pull it off, but it'll be rocky. People who have held their tongues this past week aren't going to hold them anymore.


I personally believe in the ideology of the NDP. I believe it's the right course for our country, and i believe it stands up to scrutiny. We should fear nothing of being subjected to that scrutiny. We can't meet attacks with indignation anymore; we should take pride in those attacks, because people only attack what they perceive as a threat. And the NDP is a threat now, a very serious one. We can't meet those attacks with indignation, so we'll have to counter them with reason and with poise. Jack Layton was inspiring because his politics were inspiring, and his politics have not died: they remain very much alive in Canada's main party of the opposition. If you believed the media in that oh-so-distant month between Layton's announcement of his illness and his death, the appointment of Nycole Turmel spelt disaster for the party, whereas interim polling suggested it mattered not a whit - people believe in the NDP.

It wasn't just Jack's death that created this belief. But Jack's death has brought it out into the open, in the form of a genuine yearning for the kind of Canada that the NDP is uniquely able to provide.

The Conservatives' spin recently has been amazing. So many of us have started to feel that this country is slipping away from us, being pulled in a different and unwelcome direction. But hey - look around. This is still our country, this is still a worthy place to build our dreams. Canadians haven't become more conservative at all. We'd just lost sight of who we are. Jack's death was a horrible, senseless tragedy, but one that has served to remind us of who we are.

And the only way the moment will pass is if we suddenly, en masse, decide that it's the Conservatives, or the Liberals, or the Bloc, or the Greens, in whom that vision is best manifested. And how likely is that?

So thanks, Jack. It worked.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Top Ten Things Nycole Turmel Could Do to Endear Herself to the Public

So the worst of the 'BQ storm' is over for Nycole Turmel now, I think. People half paying attention have moved onto other things to half pay attention to.

Still, let's face a reality - Turmel's star has definitely risen. Even if Jack Layton really does return, Turmel will still remain in the public eye from now on. So it's 'damage control' mode. Turmel really needs to find some ways to ingratiate herself in the minds of the Canadian public. By which, sad to say, I mean the people in the other nine provinces. And parts of Montréal too.

So in classic David Letterman fashion, let me present the top ten ways Nycole Turmel can endear herself to the nation as a whole...
  • 10. Periodically turn to Bob Rae and call out in a schoolmarmish voice, "You're the weakest link! Goodbye!"
  • 9. Buy at least one housecat for each year of BQ membership and allow yourself to be photographed with them as often as possible. Name the cats after former governers-general.
  • 8. Play at least one musical instrument. Or at least sing. You're party leader now, hon. In Canada, this means you have to sing.
  • 7. Inhale. Hell, light up in Commons. You're a New Democrat after all.
  • 6. Scream, 'Mon pays, ce n'est pas un pays; c'est l'hiver', while jumping in a half-frozen lake on New Year's Day.
  • 5. Prove allegiance to Canada by taking role as acting leader of the country's second largest federalist party.
  • 4. Adopt a brood of children from far-flung corners of the globe. Name them after former governors-general.
  • 3. Lobby the National Assembly to have Bonhomme refitted with a beaver's teeth and tail.
  • 2. Switch seats in Commons every now and then with Elizabeth May. See if anyone notices.
  • 1. Grow a moustache.

Straw Polls and Corn Dogs

Michele Bachmann currently looks like the Republican front-runner, based on... well, based on something called the 'Iowa Straw Poll', which apparently has something to do with eathing corn dogs. Because clearly fifty seperate votes for party leader just isn't enough... Michele Bachmann's ascendancy has to be good news for Stephen Harper, since it stands in such stark constrast to his own 'moderate lunacy'. Harper can get precisely as nuts as his haircut will allow over the next four years and still not even approach Bachmann-like levels of madness.

But the thing is that Bachmann barely even stands out from the crowd amongst Republican hopefuls. Amazing to think that even though there are only two parties in the United States, the best one of those two parties can muster up is this current crop (and after Obama, the best the other party can do is Joe Biden). After a vice-presidential candidate who merely was married to a seperatist, we now have a declared presidential candidate, Rick Perry, who was also apparently one too. Nycole Turmel must be shaking her head at the scant notice paid Rick Perry's previous dalliances with Texan seperation while guitarist for Aerosmith, but the thing is that seperatist dalliances on the right of the spectrum are okay, because they never really mean it. It's the conservative version of post-modernist irony.

It seems funny to think that Americans could even have seperatist movements, given how united they can all stand behind the act of chanting their three-lettered name at sporting events. Yet of course if any two states were likely to have independence movements (excluding states marooned in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, because they all vote Democrat anyway), it makes sense they'd be Texas and Alaska. After all (a) each of them happens to be huge anyway, and I refer not to girth, (b) they both used to belong to other countries anyway, so they know what it's like, and (c) they're not stuck in the middle. Imagine the poor dolt aiming for Kentucky independence who looks at a map and realises he'll be stuck surrounded on all four sides by his sworn enemy.

Ah, but who am I kidding? The sworn enemy isn't Kentucky's neighbours, is it? The sworn enemy is a tiny isolated city stuck between Maryland and Virginia. Or rather, it's that man in the big house downtown. The biggest fear I have regarding 2012 is that a certain amount of Americans will be so driven to defeat Obama at any cost that they'll vote for any old nutbar with a corn dog in her mouth.

Then it won't be so easy to laugh.

Maybe I`m wrong here, though. I mean, who knows what will happen? Election day 2012 is still a long way away (fully a year - a lifetime politically), and after all a 'straw poll' just doesn't sound like it's built to last, does it? If you're really looking for long-term repercussions, you might look into a wood poll next time out. Hell, even an adobe poll would have more staying power. All straw is good for is making fake humans to hang in fields to scare away crows.

Or do I misunderstand? Maybe it's straw like the thing you drink out of - like the GOP has cut different lengths of straw and held them in its hand, and America has just drawn the short one.

You know, the one labelled 'Bachmann'.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Angus Reid Salt Lick

It's always useful to take polls with a grain of salt - and in particular you might want to steal a salt lick from your nearest cow to get through this one. After all, what does Angus Reid have to lose? They know it's years till the next election, by which time any information contained in this reports will be the quaintest of relics. They could use a sample size of precisely 'everyone who was in the men's room at the time', and it will withstand scrutiny, because... well, because who's going to scrutinise it, really?

Yet it's a nice document to look at if you happen to like the NDP. The overall numbers show no change whatsoever in any of the five party's numbers, which is strange as other pollsters are recording jumps and drops of as much as four percent. But it's what's going on at the provincial (or in fact 'regional' level) that intrigues. TO start, their punchline-worthy Alberta numbers show the Conservatives at 75% and the Liberals at 1% (meaning that there are 7400% more Conservatives in Alberta than Liberals), and Ontario has the Tories 18 points ahead of their neck-in-neck rivals. But after that? Well... if you believe Angus Reid, outside of Alberta and Ontario, the NDP are leading everywhere else in the country.


Again, give that salt lick a slurp or two. But yes. Their Québec numbers show a drop from astronomical to merely sky-high (35%), which allows bumps most everywhere else to get masked. But they somehow outperform the Conservatives in BC and in the four Atlantic provinces by a remarkable one percent each (38% to 37% in BC, and 35% to 34% in the Atlantic), and have a not-insignificant four percent lead over the Tories in the Prairie provinces (44% to 40%).

It's tough to know quite what to think of this. After all, you don't figure that 'former Bloc ties' would really fly in the Prairies, for example - especially where seemingly little has been able to. Certainly there's an aspect of Jack-sympathy in the numbers, though who'd have thought that someone who resisted the 'orange wave' in May would subsequently be won over by a health scare. Unless, of course, it's fear for the health of the Liberal Party, a rather undocumented phenomenon that's bound to be happening in certain parts of the country (like hey! Alberta). I can't see 'the NDP are leading in 8 in 10 provinces' as actually being a realistic sentence, largely given that I can't see them leading in PEI or Newfoundland... but then again, perhaps it took stark election results to finally convince those two provinces that one votes NDP to oppose the Conservatives in 2011 (give them a break; they're islands). And also, sadly, I can't see Saskatchewan actually putting the NDP above the Tories - which suggests that NDP numbers must be pretty-damn-good in Manitoba.

Most of these numbers are well within the bounds of statistical error. Swing them a percent or two the other way and magically you've got 'Conservatives leading in every province except Québec!' - a sentence likely to be equally fallacious.

What the numbers currently mean, in all probability, is that no one can really be bothered at the moment to state on a telephone who they presently endorse. And why would they? After all, didn't Harper promise us that a majority would rid us of the pestilence of politics?

Saturday, August 13, 2011


So I took a few weeks off. I'd managed not to keep up with my one-post-a-day promise, and found that I had nothing to say anyway. So it was a nice break to recharge my batteries.

But hey! I've got a new computer now, and I want to play. It's a netbook, and I'm thinking I'll, like, use it on the subway and stuff - giving me more 'downtime' to fill by blogging. That's the theory, anyway.

And yet... what lessons have we learnt from our time away? Well, here's the thing - I went into blogging with this idea that I'd do this big series of one-note blogs that had weekly entries. I had this idea - which is probably more or less right - that they'd perform better (monetarily) if they were more or less consistent in their topics. But I'm not sure I chose them right, started several on whims, and got completely swamped by them. Even doing only one entry a week (which allows you to run a backlog if you have a burst of inspiration) gets to be too much if you have, like, fifteen of these blogs.

Now, this particular blog was also a whim. Its name is perfectly literal - amongst all of my abuses of Blogspot's MO, I'd have a blog that was not updated consistently, and spoke about topics both more random and more personal. Unlike the others, it'd be a real blog.

But then it turned into a kind of catch-all, encompassing stuff that I felt like doing that didn't fit into the very tight constraints of my other active blogs. So I'd put together stuff like lists of my favourite flags or lists of album covers that featured nudity (with time, I'd start another blog for that particular purpose, largely in fact because lists seemed to be taking over this particular blog).

Some of those became relatively successful, to the point that A Proper Blog would consistently, every day, get more pageviews than any of my other blogs. This was funny in that those other blogs were designed to be optimised for maximum pageviews, and this one was designed to be a silly afterthought. But it certainly encouraged me to give this particular blog more attention.

Then, on the 31st of December, 2010, on a sudden whim, I announced that I'd be updating this blog every day.

And for months and months, I followed that, forcing myself into new directions for creativity - which for me also includes 'creative ways to knock off entries that are obviously filler when the need arises'. It was enjoyable, if hard work. But there were two downsides. First, I had to ignore every other blog, leaving them either entirely or mostly stagnant. And as it became obvious that Album Cover Gallery would overtake this blog for daily pageviews (a situation that remains true to this day), I probably should have worked on developing it instead. But I just didn't have the time... and I'd made myself a promise regarding this blog, not that one. The other downside is that this current blog veers so wildly in different directions that Google's algorithms probably just give up trying to make heads or tails out of it. I've subverted my entire 'game plan' regarding Blogspot.

So I'm back working on this blog. But it's still conceptually a work in progress. I know I want to devote more time to other blogs, and that will come at the expense of this blog. So while I like the idea of getting back to daily updates, I'm not making a guarantee. And I think I want to have a good sit-down about this blog and what it ought to be. I kind of think I'd like to use it to focus mostly on politics and on music. Google can deal with two main themes. I'd like it to be mostly rant-style exposition, with less randomness and less 'variety' stuff. But I doenjoy doing the 'variety' stuff - should I be shunting that elsewhere, on yet another Blogspot blog, or five?

I don't know... but I'm back. And determined to figure it out.

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