Mary Rose Cook's notebook

The public parts of my notebook.

My homepage.

Dear and the Headlights, Saintly Rows (Oh Oh) + Willetta

Dear and the Headlights, Saintly Rows (Oh Oh) + Willetta

Dear and the Headlights: Live @ Sams (Part 3) - YouTube


Everyone has a band that they think are criminally under popular. Dear and the Headlights are mine. The thing is, I think Dear and the Headlights have the most beautiful melodies ever written. Which means they should be the most popular band in the world, right?


#notebook

Dark Dark Dark, Wild Goose Chase

Dark Dark Dark, Wild Goose Chase

Dark Dark Dark - Wild Goose Chase (live at Le Poisson Rouge) - YouTube


“For I end up in a circular path,

On a pilgrimage leading straight back.

To where I know that I’ll drop my guitar.

I’ll abandon my car on the highway,

Don’t send me away.

Don’t send me upon this wild goose chase”


#notebook

Mary, with chocolate chips. (Taken with Instagram)

Mary, with chocolate chips. (Taken with Instagram)


#notebook

This morning, I made what will be my second PB&J for my packed lunch. I also have Oreos. (Taken with instagram)

This morning, I made what will be my second PB&J for my packed lunch. I also have Oreos. (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

Under the bridge (Taken with instagram)

Under the bridge (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

Down by the canal in London (Taken with instagram)

Down by the canal in London (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

Arvo Pärt, Spiegel im Spiegel

Arvo Pärt, Spiegel im Spiegel

SpiegelImSpiegel.mp3


This piece has followed me in my head for years. It’s on the soundtrack to Heaven, a film that is ninety minutes of living in the times between times, living in the time you’ve got left, living in the time made golden by your doom.


That short passage, where the violin comes in and plays one long note and then goes up an interval and plays another long note, to me embodies the sensation of knowing you are living through an achingly beautiful moment, and knowing it is passing, and knowing that the knowledge of the passing is what turns mundane happiness into stabbing beauty.


#notebook

Platform game with algorithmically generated levels

Platform game with algorithmically generated levels

Cloudberry Kingdom is a 2D platformer that generates its levels automatically. The algorithm has heuristics to produce levels that are fun and of a specified difficulty. It dynamically simulates the physical properties of the player characters. This means it can automatically generate new levels for characters with new movement characteristics. It can even simulate a play through with an AI to prove levels are completable.


A great article that explains how the level generation algorithm works.


The trailer for the game.


#notebook


“Mary is not dead woooo” cake made by Ellie to celebrate my third year of successfully not dying (Taken with instagram)

“Mary is not dead woooo” cake made by Ellie to celebrate my third year of successfully not dying (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

Ellie and Isla. Words fail me. (Taken with instagram)

Ellie and Isla. Words fail me. (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver

I love this shot from Taxi Driver. Even though Travis Bickle is supposedly God's lonely man, we know him as the subject of a Hollywood film. But, earlier in the film, in this shot, he is just another unremarkable guy, alone in the early morning, in the distance, swigging from a bottle of whiskey.



And I love how, in the "Are you talking to me?" scene, you can hear the everyday noise of people outside as Travis Bickle goes mad inside:


#notebook

Mary Hard at Work, by Ellie (Taken with instagram)

Mary Hard at Work, by Ellie (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

Tool, Third Eye

Tool, Third Eye

15%20Third%20Eye.mp3


Tool and Mogwai made me realise that musicians are allowed to do anything they want.


But Tool had a stronger effect because they were my first real exposure to metal, which meant they were able to crystalise the most consistently important concept in my musical taste: beauty is harsh.


I first heard Mogwai in 1997, when I was about sixteen. I was lying in bed in the dark listening to The Breezeblock, Mary Ann Hobbs’s late night music programme on Radio One. She played Like Herod, a twelve-minute track from Mogwai’s first album, Young Team. I hadn’t heard music like that before: instrumental by default, symphonically structured, spoken word, moods rather than songs, occasional vocals that were accents, rather than scaffolding, and incongruous shifts in instrumentation and tone from section to section. I thought that Mogwai had, somehow, invented all this stuff. It wasn’t until 2002 that I realised that Slint had already got most of the way there by 1991.


I first heard Tool in 1998, when I was seventeen. My friend, Harry, lent me their 1996 album, Aenima, and I took it home and played it through the speakers built into the monitor of my Mac. I played it a lot over the next five or six years on my CD Walkman.


Aenima took me much further than Young Team. It was the first piece of modern music in which I heard the non-standard time signatures. It was the first record I heard that combined anger and sadness and melody into beauty. It was the first record I heard that had an overarching theme. The first record I heard that had continuity between songs. It made me consciously seek out weird, extreme music, music that would broaden my horizons and maybe give my brain more versions of that moment in Third Eye when Maynard James Keenan sings, “So good to see you, I missed you so much”: the joyous/agonising high of a sound that is simultaneously sad and beautiful, melodic and abrasive.


Most importantly, it was the record that made me fully aware of the fact that music doesn’t just come from some obscured, instinctual, idiot savant place in the brain. It is intentional art, just like novels and films and paintings. It is - can be - a series of conscious decisions, some of which the musician is unsure of. This is excellently illustrated in Third Eye by the two moments when Maynard James Keenan sings, “Prying open my third eye.” The first time, it stops the song with the long, arrhythmic pauses between repetitions. The second time, it is in parallel with a polyrhythmic drum beat, and repeated many more times, and totally cathartic.


Fourteen years later, poor Harry still hasn’t had his CD back.


#notebook

The new Moonface record is out today

The new Moonface record is out today


#notebook

Keaton Henson, Small Hands

Keaton Henson, Small Hands

Keaton Henson - Small Hands - YouTube


I really like this video. A sad, simple story.


#notebook

Eating breakfast with my niece at her little table. (Taken with instagram)

Eating breakfast with my niece at her little table. (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

Moonface with Siinai, Headed for the Door

Moonface with Siinai, Headed for the Door

08%20Headed%20For%20The%20Door.mp3


Dear Sarah,


I heard that you’ve turned into a goth, and I think that’s great, if that’s what makes you happy. I have an old pair of black boots with silver buckles that I don’t wear anymore, and you can have them if you want them. Also, I wanted to ask: What, if anything, is fluttering in your heart? I wanted to ask if it has to be a black crow or a vampire bat… or if maybe instead it could be a kite that has broken loose from the string that you were holding—or the string that we were holding—sometime when we were teenagers, or maybe in our early twenties? Could it be a kite which is now rolling over and over on itself in the sky like an unborn baby, and slowly shrinking into a dot, and then a spec of black, and then something we’re not even sure we’re watching, but then, for sure, absolutely nothing at all? Get back to me about this when you have a chance.


I hope you’re doing well.


xo

s


#notebook

Bob Dylan, Idiot Wind

Bob Dylan, Idiot Wind

04%20Idiot%20Wind.mp3


I randomly heard someone called Ben Miller, apparently a comedian, talking about this track on BBC Radio 4. One of the things he said was that it contains the best joke in a song ever. It’s wonderful when someone else notices the same thing you do about a piece of art:


“They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy. She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me. I can’t help it if I’m lucky.”


My favourite line was always:


“I can’t even touch the books you’ve read.”


#notebook

Animal Collective, Fireworks

Animal Collective, Fireworks

Animal%20Collective%20-%20Fireworks.mp3


The sound of summer.


#notebook

Girl Walk All Day

Girl Walk All Day

Girl Walk // All Day: Chapter 2 on Vimeo


I like dance movies. Somehow, though they often appear indistinguishable from music videos, they are not boring. This clip is one track’s worth of a dance movie of pure joy set to Girl Talk’s album, All Day.


#notebook

Des Ark, My Saddle Is Waitin’ (C'mon Jump On It)

Des Ark, My Saddle Is Waitin’ (C'mon Jump On It)

Des Ark - house show (solo) - YouTube


I think I’ve posted this video to every blog I’ve ever had. It shows my favourite performance of my favourite Des Ark song. But, further, it depicts an incredibly rich and specific scene: a gig in someone’s house, members of the audience standing around and as important in the frame as Aimée Argote, her too-small guitar, a gig that appears to be boiling hot when she wipes the sweat from the face with her t-shirt that is part of a utilitarian I-have-been-on-tour-for-weeks outfit, and the intro she gives that lasts longer than the song and that reflects the other bands at the gig.


This is my second favourite performance of this song. You will notice that it includes her whole band. You will also notice that the video has absolutely no atmosphere. However, I love how fast the song moves along, and I love the way she sings the “I know” in “And I know I’m using drugs every morning” as a half-screech.


#notebook

Bob Dylan, Mr. Tambourine Man

Bob Dylan, Mr. Tambourine Man

07%20Mr.%20Tambourine%20Man.mp3


Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free

Silhouetted by the sea

Circled by the circus sands

With all memory and fate

Driven deep beneath the waves

Let me forget about today until tomorrow


#notebook

Jeffrey Lewis, The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song

Jeffrey Lewis, The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song

04%20The%20Chelsea%20Hotel%20Oral%20Sex%20Song.mp3


Excerpt 1:


Though you may not believe it

You know what she says to me next

As I repeat it

That line about getting a blow job

That Leonard sings

She said it made her

Want to do naughty things

Right about then

I should have asked

If she knew

What the Chelsea charged

If we got a room for two

But I didn’t and I know

I’m a schmuck, don’t you doubt it

The only thing I did

Was write this stupid song about it

If I was Leonard Cohen

Or some other song writing master

I’d know to first get the oral sex

And then write the song after


Excerpt 2:


You may think it’s pathetic

That I sing this song

And that she will never know it

But think a minute about what that means

And you’ll realise it’s actually a wonderful thing

That all around the world

There maybe folks singing tunes

For the love of others folks

They barely knew

And it puts a smile on my face

Yes, it do

And let me tell you

You ought to be smillin too

‘Cos the next time you feeling

Kinda lonesome and blue

Just think that someone somewhere

Might be singin about you


And I love the fact that he released a version that has him gulping part way through a line.


#notebook

Delta Dart, Story of My Life

Delta Dart, Story of My Life

10%20Story%20Of%20My%20Life.mp3


Such amazing close harmonies.


#notebook

Cat Power, In This Hole

Cat Power, In This Hole

06%20In%20This%20Hole.mp3


#notebook

Roly Porter, Arrakis

Roly Porter, Arrakis

11%20Arrakis.mp3


This is the final track from Aftertime. I feel bad posting it in isolation, because the album is a proper collection of tracks that has a beginning and takes you on a journey. Further, it’s unrepresentative of the rest of the album: it’s much shorter than the central pieces that are seven or eight minute worlds, it’s less measured, it’s easier. But the final foghorn blasts are such a perfect ending, such a beautiful replacement of calm and analysis with rage, that it’s my favourite.


#notebook

Springs, weights and the morning light

Springs, weights and the morning light

Tom Klein Peter wrote a wonderful series of essays about being the lead dev at Audiogalaxy. The excerpt below is one of my favourite pieces of writing about programming. It combines an analogy of springs and weights that illustrates the way programming can change the way you think about systems, and a description of the loveliness of the light in the morning after a night spent programming that illustrates how the demands of your art can show you the world in a new way.


In short, it demonstrates how a part life of productivity and a part life of fun can enrich each other to produce something that makes your head explode with associative pyrotechnics.


As we worked through the bugs, the uptime turned into minutes, then hours, and eventually the service virtually never crashed. With hundreds of instances deployed, we got so much traffic that we were able to remove all the bugs we were likely to run into. We had one or two machines that would crash every month or two with inscrutable core files. Because it was always the same machine, I eventually attributed this to faulty memory. The idea that you could write software that was more reliable than hardware was fascinating to me.


In fact, almost everything about the scale of the software fascinated me. I found that a system with hundreds of thousands of clients and thousands of events per seconds behaved like a physical machine built out of springs and weights. If one server process stalled for a moment, effects could ripple throughout the cluster. Sometimes, it seemed like there were physical oscillations – huge bursts of traffic would cause everything to slow down and back off, and then things would recover enough to trigger another burst of load. I had never even imagined that these sorts of problems existed in the software world and I found myself wishing I had taken control theory more seriously in college.


Keeping up with the traffic at this time was difficult, but in retrospect, it was really a lot of fun. I had graduated from UT in December of 2000 and moved downtown within walking distance of both 6th Street and the office. I spent the summer on a completely nocturnal cycle, partially because of the Texas heat, but mainly because restarting services was easier at 3 in the morning. I was tired of staying up late to deploy new code, so I just changed my schedule. Audiogalaxy users had led me to a set of live trance mixes from clubs in Europe which turned me into a diehard electronica fan, and driving around Texas to catch DJs on the weekend was much easier if staying up until 8am was normal. I bought some turntables and a lot of vinyl. And a couch. The light in my apartment when I got home in the morning was very lovely.


#notebook

Slint, Washer

Slint, Washer

04%20Washer.mp3


#notebook

Moonface, Dreamland EP: marimba and shit-drums

Moonface, Dreamland EP: marimba and shit-drums

Dreamland%20EP_%20marimba%20and%20shit-drums.mp3


One of Spencer Krug’s side projects. I would often listen to this as I walked home from a party, across Berlin, at eight a.m.


"The girls, all ready in their swimsuits

They are sitting on the pier

I will swim to them like a fish

I have ridden on these waves

I will be there in no time"


#notebook

A fascinating discussion between David Fincher and the design agency he chose to make the credit sequence for the US version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

A fascinating discussion between David Fincher and the design agency he chose to make the credit sequence for the US version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) — Art of the Title


#notebook

Hobbes gives Calvin a haircut

Hobbes gives Calvin a haircut


#notebook

Joanna Newsom, Sawdust & Diamonds

Joanna Newsom, Sawdust & Diamonds

03%20Sawdust%20&%20Diamonds.mp3


"I wanted to say ‘why the long face?’

[slowly slip away with your long face]

Sparrow perch and play songs of long face

Burro buck and bray songs of long face

Sings ‘I will swallow your sadness and eat your cold clay just to lift your long face

And though it may be madness, I will take to the grave

Your precious long face

& though our bones they may break & our souls separate

Why the long face? Milkymoon

And though our bodies recoil from the grip of the soil

Why the long face?'"


#notebook

Hurray for the Riff Raff, Look Out Mama

Hurray for the Riff Raff, Look Out Mama

Hurray for the Riff Raff - Look Out Mama | Notes from Mt Pleasant - YouTube


#notebook

Fee Reega, Trostlied für einen Erfrierenden

Fee Reega, Trostlied für einen Erfrierenden

TrostliedfureinenErfrierenden.mp3


I listened to Fee Reega a lot when I lived in Berlin. Her music is very beautiful, and it helped me improve my German.


#notebook

(I Won’t Say) I’m in Love

(I Won’t Say) I’m in Love

Hercules - I Won't Say I'm In Love


From Disney’s Hercules.


#notebook

Electrelane, To the East

Electrelane, To the East

02%20To%20The%20East.mp3


#notebook

Circle Takes the Square somehow compose their music as an expression of artistic crisis. (Taken with instagram)

Circle Takes the Square somehow compose their music as an expression of artistic crisis. (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

Des Ark, My Little Bantam Rooster

Des Ark, My Little Bantam Rooster

des%20ark.mp3


#notebook

At the airport to wave off my sister in her round the world gap year trip *sob* (Taken with instagram)

At the airport to wave off my sister in her round the world gap year trip *sob* (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

My costume for my friend’s Bad Tattoos party (Taken with instagram)

My costume for my friend’s Bad Tattoos party (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

My niece the hipster. (Taken with instagram)

My niece the hipster. (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

My niece hanging out in her princess’s castle (Taken with instagram)

My niece hanging out in her princess’s castle (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

Coming in hot with Jelly Tots. (Taken with instagram)

Coming in hot with Jelly Tots. (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

Amen Dunes, Dia

Amen Dunes, Dia

dia.mp3


I love how he sounds like he is wailing, futilely, in the dark.


#notebook

My niece doing some tidying (Taken with instagram)

My niece doing some tidying (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

Playing my first game of Ninja (Taken with instagram)

Playing my first game of Ninja (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

Women love weddings. Especially their own. (Taken with instagram)

Women love weddings. Especially their own. (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

Goodies from Bocoup

Goodies from Bocoup


#notebook

Boston (Taken with instagram)

Boston (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

Orin and I made a Captain America shield (Taken with instagram)

Orin and I made a Captain America shield (Taken with instagram)


#notebook

Index pages: home, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12