AWOL by James Kelleher


Apologies to my many millions of readers for the lack of recent posts. Work has been all-consuming so there hasn't been a lot of time for the blog; I'm hoping to get a schedule together where you won't go so hungry for so long. Chin up, my dearest public. Chin up. 

It's a hard block life by James Kelleher


I’ve even spent some strange virtual afternoons as a floating block-self, guided by my angelic block-hammer-wielding block-daughter, zipping around a dreamscape that feels, really, less like life and maybe more like death, but in a sweet sort of way.

Chris Ware talks about his Minecraft-inspired techangst cover over at The New Yorker. 

Dublin 26: a Google Maps Alphabet by James Kelleher

On the kitchen wall opposite the stove, my grandparents kept a photograph of their farm, taken from the air. The story goes that a business-minded amateur pilot went door to door in 1970s rural Monaghan, selling large-format personalised aerial photography to locals who relished this new perspective on their working lives. 

Since then that top-down view has become vastly easier to access. So easy, in fact, that you could, if you were so inclined, spend 10 minutes of your lunchtime every day on Google Maps, hunting for letter shapes all over Dublin. Or you could let me do it instead. Inspired by Rhett Dashwood's original Google Maps Typography and the Aerial Bold project, I wanted to make a Dublin-flavoured topographical alphabet. So here they are, all 26 of them, presented in useful alphabetical order. You can click each letter to see it in situ on Google Maps, or suggest new letter coordinates in the comments below (that R is a particularly wonky).

Brute forcing the lottery by James Kelleher

The Boston Globe has a great story on MIT students using hard sums to extract an “almost guaranteed” 15-20% return from the Massachusetts State Lottery's Cash WinFall game. Even better, lottery officials knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it – in some cases actively encouraging the syndicates – because it boosted their own bottom line.

The Irish were pioneering this sort of thing back in 1992. A 28-member syndicate headquartered in Scruffy Murphy's worked out that they could make a guaranteed profit by buying up all possible combinations with a pre-marked stash of a quarter of a million ticket slips. The National Lottery figured out what they were up to and did their best to stop them, but the syndicate still came out of it with about £310,000 before expenses. It looks like Stefan Klincewicz (the author of the scheme) is still dining out on the story, if his LinkedIn page is any guide.

The Invention of Genre by James Kelleher

I don’t have a problem, necessarily, about reading for improvement. I often choose a book because I think I’m going to enjoy it, but I think also it’s going to improve me in some sense. But when you ask yourself, “Is this going to improve me?” what are you really asking? I think I probably do turn to books for some sort of spiritual and intellectual nourishment: I think I’m going to learn something about the world, about people. But if by “improving”, we mean it would help me go up the class ladder, then it’s not what reading and writing should be about. Books are serving the same function as certain brands of cars or jewellery, in just denoting social position. That kind of motivation attaches itself to reading in a way that probably doesn’t attach itself to film.
— Kazuo Ishiguro

Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro in conversation, for New Statesman: Lets Talk About Genre.

Kings of the Low Frequencies by James Kelleher

The best thing about this otherwise ho-hum Bill Drummond piece for The Guardian was that it pointed me to this, a mix/documentary hybrid that tells the story of The KLF (1987-1995), Britain's favourite genius-art-pop-chancers. It's Bristol-based United States of Audio's tribute to “the first single [he] ever bought” and it's a fascinating labour of love. 

The Grand Overlook Hotel by James Kelleher

Somewhere in an alternate universe, Wes Anderson directs The Shining. Watch some great cutting by Steve Ramsden, who draws out the similarities between Stanley Kubrick's shot framing and that of Anderson, and re-tints The Shining's palette to mesh seamlessly with The Grand Budapest Hotel. We'll have to forgive it for not lavishing quite so much attention on the typographical details.

Elsewhere, gorge your minds on the Tripadvisor reviews for The Overlook Hotel and The Grand Budapest Hotel

Sample sources for Jamie XX's ‘In Colour’ by James Kelleher

“There comes a moment in many artists’ careers when they stumble on the secret weapon that is the past.” Hua Hsu wrote One Last Rave for the New Yorker last month, offering up Mark Leckey's short film Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (which you can watch below) as a useful decoder for Jamie Smith's most recent work. Digging out the source material for In Colour is giving me as much joy as the album itself. Here are some of the bits and pieces I've found so far:

Idris Muhammad, Could Heaven Ever Be Like This, from the 1977 album Turn This Mutha Out. Sampled on Loud Places. 

The Persuasions, Good Times, from the 1972 album Street Corner Symphony. 
Sampled on I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times). ⬇

Fiorucci Made Me HardcoreMark Leckey's love letter to British nightclub culture. Sampled on All Under One Roof Raving. 

One In The Jungle Unbroadcast Pilot, DJ Ron & MC Strings.
Sampled on Gosh. EASY EASY! 

Mighty hoax from little acorns grow by James Kelleher

Savchuk’s revelations about the agency have fascinated Russia not because they are shocking but because they confirm what everyone has long suspected: The Russian Internet is awash in trolls.
— Adrian Chen for The New York Times Magazine

Adrian Chen reports on how The Internet Research Agency has industrialised the art of trolling,  waging war through forums, comments, hashtags, tweets and blogs: The Agency.

Dublin Grad Shows 2015 by James Kelleher

Here's a quick run-through of some of the grad shows happening in Dublin this year.

DIT – Dublin School of Creative Arts, Grangegorman. 6th June - 13th June, closed Sunday. LIFT OFF identity and design (some of which is pictured above) by Alan Harbron, Grainne Barry Wallace and Sarah McCoy.

NCAD – 3 locations – NCAD Campus; John St. West Building; Former Frawley's. 13th June - 21st June. 

IADT – Kill Avenue, Dun Laoghaire. 5th June - 10th June, closed Sunday. 

The Flight of The URLs by James Kelleher

Jazzmine Beaulieu shoots the Holi Festival-inspired A Colourful Life.

The headquarters of FIFA takes up about 11 acres on a wooded hill above Zurich ... In a Strangelovian lair on the third subterranean level, Blatter holds executive committee meetings in a conference room with a floor of lapis lazuli. The room is lit by a round, crystal chandelier meant to evoke a soccer stadium.

Bloomberg Businessweek on the inner workings of FIFA. (Thanks to Joe O'Donnell for pointing me to this piece.)

Vanity Fair used a computer without internet to keep its Caitlyn Jenner cover secret. 

British Airways senior first officer Mark Vanhoenacker writes about the experience of flying from London to Tokyo in In Flight, a beautifully executed piece for the New York Times.

Listen to the title track from the upcoming Beirut album, No No No:

The Entertainment by James Kelleher

This is the first trailer for James Ponsoldt's David Foster Wallace biopic The End of The Tour. Jason Segel (!) plays DFW and Jesse Eisenberg plays David Lipsky, the Rolling Stone journalist sent to interview Wallace in the final stages of the Infinite Jest book tour (the film is an adaptation of Lipsky's book Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself).

So far it's looking like a fine bit of Linklaterian chatty melancholy, if you can gloss over the unease that Wallace would probably have felt about being portrayed on film; his family and estate have gone on the record to distance themselves from the whole thing. There's every chance I'll get around to watching this a long time before I manage to crack the spine of The Pale King.

The End of The Tour is released in the US on the 31st July and who-knows-when in Europe. 

The White Man's Burden by James Kelleher


The New Mexico Law Review has put together a once-off Breaking Bad-themed issue, including essays on intellectual property, plea bargaining, attorney-client privilege and Skyler White as a totem for an entire class of women caught up in America's war on drugs. All of which is a cute pretext for attracting a larger audience to a niche journal. 

Recommended: Elizabeth N. Jones' paper [PDF] on the tension between the Alberquerque represented in the TV series and the Alberquerque whose over-armed police department has visited a relentless slew of brutality against its most vulnerable citizens.

The city strove to become even more like the broadcast version of itself, complete with a tidy financial profit. Small businesses made money by selling goods inspired by the show, such as ‘Blue Sky Donuts’, and spa products advertised to ‘relax away the Bad’. Candy stores designed blue rock crystal candy to look like methamphetamine ... Albuquerque promoted actors’ appearances at local businesses, sold them homes, and even sought their political endorsements at times.
— Elizabeth N. Jones, New Mexico Law Review

You can read the entire issue here.

The Flight of The URLs by James Kelleher


Have a poke around Lisa Cassidy's (sadly dormant) Built Dublin blog for the low-down on Dublin's more underappreciated architectural oddities. 

TIL: there is a 20th anniversary Friends-themed slot machine. This is a great Verge piece on casinos, skinner boxes, slot machines and the designing of addiction.

Tape Findings, an archive of one-of-a-kind found sounds.

At this period, after his long fast, the toad has a very spiritual look, like a strict Anglo-Catholic towards the end of Lent. His movements are languid but purposeful, his body is shrunken, and by contrast his eyes look abnormally large. This allows one to notice what one might not at another time: that a toad has about the most beautiful eye of any living creature. It is like gold, or more exactly it is like the golden-colored semi-precious stone which one sometimes sees in signet-rings, and which I think is called a chrysoberyl.

- George Orwell's ode to springtime, Some Thoughts on the Common Toad.

Watch the first teaser trailer for Aaron Sorkin's Steve Jobs biopic with Michael Fassbender playing the world's most famous jerkhole:

M90: Fail Slowly by James Kelleher

The M90 series is back, like some kind of phoenix rising, triumphant, from a disgusting bin fire on Henry Street. 

Listen now to 90 minutes of bits of music and words stuck together with sellotape – stream right here, or download it for your Rio PMP300 portable consumer digital audio player. The full track listing is below.

Listen to Hot Chip's new album Why Make Sense? by James Kelleher


My torrid public love affair with Hot Chip continues with the news that Why Make Sense? – their sixth album – is now streaming in full on iTunes. The official release date is set for 18th May.

They've got something special planned for the physical release too:

Due to a unique and bespoke printing technique, new album “Why Make Sense?” will come in one of 501 different colours. Combined with subtle variations of the design, this means every copy of the album, on both CD and LP, will feature completely unique artwork.

Great lads altogether.

Here are the two Why Make Sense? promo videos they've released so far, for Need You Now and Huarache Lights. If anybody has a definitive answer for what huarache lights actually are, now is the time to use that comment box below.

The Flight of The URLs by James Kelleher


Amezaiku is the Japanese art of candy sculpture, dating from the late 700s. See more like the goldfish lollypop above at Ameshin

Paul Morton interviews Daniel Clowes over at The Millions.

Seymour Hersh claims that the official narrative around the killing of Osama Bin Laden is 90% horseshit. 

Every outfit that Alicia Florrick wears in every episode of The Good Wife. 

The illusion of control and the buttons that do nothing.