Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Single ‘White Album’

Beatles producer George Martin was famously in favour of releasing the 30 track double LP ‘The Beatles’ (universally known as ‘The White Album’) as a single LP. For years Beatles fans have speculated as to which tracks would/should make the cut if this course had been followed. This is the best selection that I’ve seen to date, however naturally I have one that I like better! In my list there’s no need to shuffle the tracks around – just by removing selected tracks from the original sequence I think you get a pretty good mix. Here are my picks for a single LP ‘White Album’ (lead singer in brackets):

Side One

  1. Back In The USSR (Paul)
  2. Dear Prudence (John)
  3. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (George)
  4. Happiness Is A Warm Gun (John)
  5. Martha My Dear (Paul)
  6. I’m So Tired (John)
  7. Blackbird (Paul)
  8. Julia (John)
Side Two

  1. Birthday (Paul)
  2. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey (John)
  3. Helter Skelter (Paul)
  4. Long. Long, Long (George)
  5. Revolution 1 (John)
  6. Cry Baby Cry (John)
  7. Good Night (Ringo)
Two objections that might be made about this list are that it’s a bit John-centric and the only song written by Ringo has been removed. However, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ was quite Paul-centric, so this evens things out (and John’s tracks on this album were collectively better), and Ringo still gets to sing the closing track. And yeah, it’s basically just all my favourites, but isn’t that how we often play albums anyway?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Finger Points Inwards

It was suggested to me by Ms Wheatley that, on the eve of the 2012 AFL season, I should link back to this post about who has the easiest AFL draw in 2012.

And I'll be back with the AFL Power Rankings this year. Here are the rankings after Geelong beat Collingwood in the Grand Final. Hmm... this reminds me that maybe I should be putting more money on Fremantle to miss the eight ... (and St. Kilda to make it - at least we should get a good idea of how much difference a new coach really makes).

Friday, March 16, 2012

LeBron v The Big O

Today I was re-looking over an excerpt from Bill Simmons' "The Book of Basketball", which argued that Oscar Robertson's achievement of averaging a triple-double (double figures in points, rebounds and assists per game) over an entire season is less impressive when you factor in the high number of possessions at the time. That got me to thinking, if you inflate LeBron James' current season per game averages for the pace of the 1961-62 season, would he have likely averaged a triple double as well?

Some per game averages:

King James (2011-12): 27.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 6.6 apg 
Big O (1961-62): 30.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 11.4 apg

On raw figures, Oscar leads in all three categories. But look at the per game averages for each team:

2011-12: 95.8 ppg, 42.2 rpg, 20.8 apg
1961-62: 118.8 ppg, 71.4 rpg, 23.9 apg

So if you inflate James' figures by the difference in team stats between seasons:

Inflated King James (2011-12): 34.4 ppg, 14.2 rpg, 7.6 apg.

Not a triple double then, although James now comes out ahead in both points and rebounds, which is not unexpected given his position on the court. Either way, both seasons are impressive and worthy of Most Valuable Player consideration (Robertson lost out to Bill Russell).

James misses out on averaging a triple double due to comparatively low assist numbers. During his last MVP season in 2009-10 he averaged 8.6 apg, but even inflating those for differences in assists per team between seasons he just missed out at an inflated average of 9.7 apg. Still very impressive though.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Literary Smackdowns: Salman Rushdie Versus Everyone

Over in the Twitterverse, literary giant Salman Rushdie often runs 'Literary Smackdowns' where his followers can vote as to which famous author is better - for example, Fitzgerald v Hemingway; Thomas Pynchon v David Foster Wallace, match-ups like that.  

But noticeably absent from these "smackdowns" is Rushdie himself. Time to correct this - lace up the gloves, Salman, you're going up against some of the mightiest wordsmiths the world has to offer.

OK, this one is a bit unfair - not many authors in history can match it with Rushdie's idol James Joyce, and Salman doesn't even have the benefit of being dead to lend his words more weight. 'Midnight Children's' is undoubtedly 'An Important Book', but how can it compare to 'Ulysses', that great colossus of weighty literary ambition? Joyce wins in a knockout, so let's give Salman an opponent that is more in his league, someone like ...


Worshippers at the altar of Rushdie might scoff at the thought of fellow Booker Prize winner Aravind Adiga being able to match it with Sir Salman, since Adiga is pretty much only known for one book. But man, what a book! 'The White Tiger' is thrilling from the first page to the last, whereas I'm pretty sure I snoozed through great swabs of 'Midnight's Children', as impressive as it is. Sorry, I have to give this one to Adiga. But staying on the theme of authors with Indian heritage, let's try this match-up ...


Well, we all know who looks better (Rushdie's ability to marry glamourous women notwithstanding), but this is an equal opportunity contest, and we have to focus only on the words on the page.  I have to give Salman this one; Jhumpa Lahiri is a fine author, but she rarely speaks for more than a household of people whereas Rushdie aims to speak for an entire nation. I'm sure that assessment will get me in trouble with any readers majoring in feminist studies, so let's quickly move along to the next match-up.


I thought I'd try this one since both Rushdie and Neil Gaiman are both quite visible in the Twitterverse. Again, speaking in a heterosexual way here, Salman loses out on looks, but I can't really rate a Hugo Award winner over the guy who wrote the most acclaimed Booker-winning novel ever, as much as I like Gaiman's 'Sandman' stuff. That's 2 wins and 2 losses for Rushdie, so we need an ultimate smackdown to decide this. Hmm, how about:


On second thought, let's leave this one alone ...

Monday, March 5, 2012

The 'Right' Order of the Star Wars Movies

I read this blog post during the past week proposing a new order in which to watch the 'Star Wars' movies. The order proposed is this: IV, V, II, III, and then VI (with I being skipped over). Watching them in this order means that IV is the introduction to the 'Star Wars' universe, consistent with the films' theatrical release dates, and that the shocker in V that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father is not spoilt by III (for the benefit of the two people in the universe who don't know this already). Under this order, Luke and not Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader is to be considered the central character of the movies. II and III are viewed as an extended flashback of Anakin Skywalker's story, coming after Luke learns that Anakin is his father and turned to the Dark Side, and then VI picks up Luke's story again as he wrestles with his own demons. I is dropped altogether on the basis that you don't really need it to understand the other episodes (and you get considerably less Jar-Jar Binks).

What - ?! Mesa gone!

Frankly, this is so perfect I don't why it hasn't been thought of sooner! Both the chronological order and the numerical order seemed slightly unsatisfactory for the reasons given in the post, and I agree this ordering makes the series much stronger. At least I agree in theory - I haven't tried it out myself yet, but I'm particularly intrigued as to whether the perceived potential for Luke to turn to the Dark Side becomes much clearer if you watch VI straight after III. And the idea that the prequels should be seen as a extended flashback seems a more natural fit for them - although maybe I'm just extrapolating from The Godfather Part II.