Newsletter 138 – March 2008


Number 138 – March 2008 – ISSN 1470-1863

Music, Arts, Culture, and Technology
as seen from digital hub Manchester UK

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0— ‘The Rest is Noise’ – 20th C music

A big welcome to Alex Ross’s long-awaited
major study of classical music in the
twentieth century.

He’s music critic of the New Yorker, and
a prolific blogger on culture of all kinds.

In this whopping history he traces the
developments of music from Richard Strauss’s
opera ‘Salome’ (1906) to John Adams’s
‘Nixon in China’ (1987).

And it’s not all symphonic music and operas.
He covers Duke Ellington and Kurt Weil,
and mentions every important musician,
from Charles Ives via Bernard Herrmann,
and Olivier Messiaen to La Monte Young
and Philip Glass. It’s seriously good.

Mantex Newsletter The Rest is Noise

0— Pub Quiz Question #1

On which lake or sea does Chicago stand?

0— ‘Sweeney Todd’ – shock horror film musical

Following all the pre-release publicity and
media hype, you might have been planning to
see Tim Burton’s screen version of the Stephen
Sondheim musical.

Well, I’ve been to see it on your behalf – and
I can report that it’s an interesting night out.
But you need to be warned. It’s not only a
musical – a sort of filmed opera – but quite
a harrowing experience as well.

Everybody knows the story of course, but blood
and guts doesn’t even start to describe what
you’ll have to endure. Brace yourself with a
pre-cinema glance at our review here. The DVD
is due for release shortly.

0— Pub quiz – Question #2

Which bird would you find in a squab pie?

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0— The sub UKP 100 laptop arrives

We reported last issue on the new Asus
notebook which has sold at prodigious
rates since it arrived, priced just
under UKP 200.

Now Elonex have topped that with a new
laptop computer for just UKP 99 – yes, just
ninety-nine quid!

It can be used as a traditional notebook
or, with the screen detached from the keyboard,
as a portable ‘tablet’. Wi-fi technology lets
users access the Internet or swap music files
(and homework) wirelessly.

Like the Asus, the secret of the low price is
in open-source software. It runs on Linux, which
is ideal for low-cost devices as it performs well
on less powerful, cheaper hardware.

redbtn Elonex netbook

0— Pub quiz – Question #3

What is the Flying Dutchman doomed to do?

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0— ‘Wikipedia: the missing manual’

Wikipedia is now twenty-five times bigger than
Encyclopedia Britannica, and yet there’s never
been a user manual for it – until now.

John Broughton has been a Wikipedia editor since
it first began in 2001, and what he offers here
is both tips on how to write for it, an explanation
of how it all works, and advice on what NOT to do.

You can add your own entries to Wikipedia – but
unless they conform to the house style, there’s
a good chance they’ll be deleted.

This book explains how to stay within the rules,
how to edit other people’s work, and in fact it
ends up with a fairly extensive tutorial on
the practice of good journalism. Excellent book.

redbtn Wikipedia: The Missing Manual

0— Pub quiz – Question #4

Which queen of England had most fingers?

0— ‘Writing Short Stories’ – theory and practice

Ailsa Cox teaches creative writing at
Edge Hill College – sorry, University!

This is her version of bringing the
writer’s workshop to the individual
reader. It’s a mixture of critical
analysis of well known short stories,
plus some exercises to prime the creative
pump of would-be writers.

She looks at various types of short
story – the yarn, the thriller, the
comic sketch – and shows what makes
them work successfully.

Each chapter is followed by suggestions
for writing exercises which will get your
literary juices flowing. Full review here –

redbtn Writing Short Stories

More free guidance notes on the short story here:

redbtn Short Stories – essential works

0— Pub quiz – Question #5

What is of interest to a thanatologist?

0— Vladimir Nabokov: an illustrated life

I came across these excellent little
paperbacks recently. They are potted
biographies and introductions to the
work of famous writers.

What makes them so attractive is that
they are packed with interesting photos
of the author, the social background,
and memorabilia – such as the dust
jackets of first editions.

This particular volume traces the
highlights of Nabokov’s life and work.

He was born in Russia, lived in Germany
for twenty years, then emigrated to the USA,
became famous as the author of ‘Lolita’,
then went to live in Switzerland for
the rest of his life.

redbtn Vladimir Nabokov: An Illustrated Life

0— Pub quiz – Question #6

Who wrote ‘The Lost World’?

0— Politics and Typography

What do the fonts used by the US election
hopefuls in their advertising tell us about
them? Hillary has gone for traditional look,
whilst Barack has embraced the new. Read all
about it here:

redbtn Typography and Politics – 1

redbtn Typography and Politics – 2

0— Pub quiz – Question #7

The town of Carrara in Italy is famous for what?

0— Franz Kafka: an illustrated life

This is another of the potted and well
illustrated biographies I’ve just come across.

There are some very charming pictures of
Kafka you will not have seen before – as
well as some archive snaps of Prague at the
beginning of the last century.

Kafka was born in Prague, went to school
there, university, and then worked there –
all within a radius of a few miles. At the
same time he wrote works of individual
genius which defined the modern condition.

redbtn Franz Kafka: An Illustrated Life

0— Pub quiz – Question #8

Who played Paul Henreid’s wife in ‘Casablanca’?

0— Laptop dongle challenges home phone

Plug a data card (a dongle) into your
laptop, and you could make phone calls
over the Internet wherever you go.

New mobile broadband services may make
a fixed phone line a thing of the past.

Ofcom reports that 70% of people in the
UK are now on line, and mobile phones
are replacing fixed handsets rapidly.

0— Pub quiz – Question #9

Where did the Dryad nymphs live?

0— The Jazz bites the dust

It’s only been on air for 15 months,
but The Jazz is due to close down
at the end of March.

However, the programme owners claim
that they are still committed to
supporting jazz and the musicians who
make it.

So much so that they are transferring
their efforts to Classic FM for two
hours a day – from midnight to 2.0 am

That’s guaranteed to get more listeners,
isn’t it! Go here instead, and enjoy a
far superior service:


0— Pub quiz – Question #10

Arch, loop, and whorl are all parts of what?

0— Readers’ Corrections + Letters


Your reference in the last Newsletter to
‘my parfumier’ is one affectation too far;
I’m afraid I have to set my doggerel on you.

The following was composed over breakfast
this morning, much improving my digestion:

A Marxist cyclist in his youth,
He pedalled to promote the truth;
Worked like a man at Renold Chains,
Proud of his overall and stains.
But what is Roy’s concern today?
‘I must meet my parfumier!’

Dostoievski and Tolstoy
Did not dismay the Stockport boy;
At lunch and teabreaks, our Roy used
To read Sartre, Camus, Prevert, Proust.
But what does Royling read today?
‘A note from my parfumier!’

Of old he drank in the Red Bull,
Wherever a good pint would pull;
Rolled up his sleeves too when he ate,
One with the proletariat.
But where will Roy eat out today?
‘I dine with my parfumier!’

Formerly, Roy’s honest sweat
Did not require the civet cat;
Back then, he didn’t have to scour
Both Indias to take a shower.
But how does Roy ablute today?
‘I shower with my parfumier!’

Damian Grant: Villenueve d’Asq, Lille

0— Pub quiz – ANSWERS

#1 On which lake or sea does Chicago stand?
ANSWER: Lake Michigan

#2 Which bird would you find in a squab pie?
ANSWER: Pigeon

#3 What is the Flying Dutchman doomed to do?
ANSWER: Sail forever

#4 Which queen of England had most fingers?
ANSWER: Anne Boleyn (11)

#5 What is of interest to a thanatologist?

#6 Who wrote ‘The Lost World’?
ANSWER: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

#7 The town of Carrara in Italy is famous for what?
ANSWER: White marble

#8 Who played Paul Henreid’s wife in ‘Casablanca’?
ANSWER: Ingrid Bergman

#9 Where did the Dryad nymphs live?
ANSWER: In trees

#10 Arch, loop, and whorl are all parts of what?
ANSWER: Fingerprints

(c) Copyright 2008, MANTEX
All Rights Reserved

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ISSN 1470-1863
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