Archive for September, 2007

Me mug’s on the web!

September 24, 2007

For those less familiar with british idiomatic expressions, my face is on the web, towards the bottom of this page. Yes, I know, I know, but, I mean, if I weren’t a little vain I wouldn’t be running a blog, would I? ūüôā

Advertisements

Rasputin ha chiuso

September 23, 2007

Doveva essere la primavera del 1980, quando Giovanni, un mio compagno di classe, mi disse che aveva aperto un nuovo negozio di dischi e che non doveva essere lontano da casa mia. A quei tempi avevo da poco cominciato ad espandere i miei¬† gusti musicali al di l√† dei Beatles e compravo i miei dischi prevalentemente da Stregatto in corso di Porta Romana, che presto si sarebbe riciclato come venditore di materiale informatico per poi chiudere definitivamente, o da New Kary in via Torino, anch’esso sostituito da tempo da un negozio di vestiti. Presto per√≤, vuoi per la comodit√†, vuoi per la selezione disponibile vicina ai miei gusti, vuoi per i prezzi contenuti e le numerose offerte speciali, cominciai ad andare prevalentemente da Rasputin. Bisogna anche considerare che a quei tempi, con le loro sei-settemila lire per un LP, negozi come Ricordi o le Messaggerie Musicali non reggevano il confronto con i negozietti indipendenti.

All’inizio vendevano solo LP, poi aprirono uno spazio per i CD al piano di sopra e dopo pochi anni gli LP sarebbero passati a costituire una parte sempre pi√Ļ marginale dell’attivit√†. Le prime avvisaglie evidenti della situazione si ebbero dopo Natale 2006; al ritorno dalle vacanze la selezione disponibile si era drasticamente ridotta. Poi alla fine della primavera ci fu una svendita al 50%. L’ultima volta che entrai nel negozio chiesi se stessero per chiudere ed i commessi con aria mesta risposero: “No, no, √® solo una promozione che facciamo…”. Rasputin √® chiuso da giugno e ora sta per aprire al suo posto l’ennesimo negozio di Benetton, del quale proprio non si sente il bisogno.

Ci sarebbe molto da scrivere sulla morte del CD, sulla rinuncia alla qualit√† della riproduzione musicale, sull’impatto della globalizzazione sul tessuto delle citt√†… Per questa volta voglio solo ricordare un negozio al quale ero affezionato, la cui chiusura contribuisce nel suo piccolo a trasformare Milano in una citt√† sempre pi√Ļ anonima.

The Nightfly – Donald Fagen (1982)

September 23, 2007

After enjoying success throughout the seventies with Steely Dan, Donald Fagen opened his rarefied solo career with The Nightfly, one of the first all digital albums. The choice of technology fits well with the almost maniacal care that clearly went into both the arrangement and the performance of each of the record’s songs: nothing is left to chance, every note is exactly where it ought to be and not one note more than necessary is played. Even from the point of view of production great care went into ensuring that no instrument ever outplayed the others. When listening to The Nightfly in your headphones you get the impression that the musicians play in a circle, with no one ever taking the centre of the stage.

Fagen appears to have total control over both music and technology, but doesn’t let himself be distracted by expertise for the sake of itself. Rather, he bends it to his own purposes in order to achieve exactly the product he has in mind. The result is an album that does sound chilly as ice – sidereal is the adjective that comes to mind – but is neither uninspired nor a sterile exercise of virtuosity. While the overall style and atmosphere are decidedly uniform and lean towards the jazzy – some of the top jazz-rock musicians of the time play in the album – the songs have enough personality to stand out from each other. The Nightfly is also a sort of concept album, centered on the dreams and nightmares of the twentieth century’s fifties.

The Nightfly starts off with “I.G.Y.”, a pleasant song about the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58 and the wonders that science and technologies will bring. It is probably my favourite song from the album, along with “New Frontier” and the slower “Maxine”. An effective cover of Leiber/Stoller‘s “Ruby Baby” is another highlight from this record: The Drifters meet The Manhattan Transfer, in a way. Still, it’s rather unfair to single out specific songs, as they are all good.

The Nightfly is a record you should listen to with your headphones late at night in the dark, but it’s also very good to listen to in the background, pleasant but not distracting. Definitely money well spent.

Milenio Carvalho – Manuel V√°zquez Montalb√°n (2004)

September 18, 2007

Amiga lectriz, amigo lector, perdonad mi espa√Īol un poco estrafalario, esta es la primera vez que intento escribir algo en vuestro idioma. Pero le√≠ Milenio Carvalho en espa√Īol y me parece la lengua mejor para comentarlo. Si tened gana, no hesitad en se√Īalarme mis errores.

Al parecer la novela de despedida es un genero especifico, particularmente popular entre los escritores de novelas de detectives. Tal vez sus personajes mas que otros adquieren vida propia y frecuentemente se genera una relación de amor-odio entre ellos y sus autores.

Así, a partir de Conan Doyle, muchos intentan liberarse de sus detectives, no siempre con éxito. Algunos mueren, y de vez en cuando resucitan en otras novelas. Otros se traen consigo todo su mundo, en novelas nihilistas che parecen expresar dolores mayores de sus autores. Hay algo triste y irónico en el hecho que esta vez fue Pepe Carvalho a despedirse de Manuel Vázquez Montalbán y no viceversa.

En Milenio Carvalho Pepe va a dar la vuelta al mundo, junto a un Biscuter lleno de sorpresas. En la primera parte del libro los dos consiguen ser perseguidos por toda clase de gentuza: mafiosos italianos, agentes del Mossad y otros por el estilo. Carvalho tiene tambi√©n un enemigo que procede de El hombre de mi vida. Este lado “thrilling” no es el mas bien acabado del libro y me parece algo gratuito.

Mejor éxito tiene Milenio Carvalho como novela de viaje, sea por los personajes y la situaciones con las cuales van a tropezar Carvalho y Biscuter, sea por el análisis sobre el estado del mundo a la vigilia de 2003, en la que se entreve la estatura de Vázquez Montalbán como periodista.

Muchas novelas de despedida tienen otra caracter√≠stica com√ļn en el revivir la vida del h√©roe y V√°zquez Montalb√°n no se sustrae a esta tradici√≥n. Pero nada es lo que era y el cansancio se apodera de Pepe, hasta el final triste y solitario, pero tambi√©n algo inesperado. En realidad este viaje empez√≥ mucho antes, desde El premio; tuvo una pausa en Quinteto de Buenos Aires y prosigui√≥ en el ya mencionado El hombre de mi vida.

Tal vez el cansancio era el del autor; Milenio Carvalho no es el peor libro de la serie, pero es lejos de ser el mejor. Desde el comienzo de los a√Īos noventa solo Quinteto de Buenos Aires esta a l’altura de los mejores. Creo que el desarrollo de Barcelona quit√≥ a Pepe su sitio en la ciudad y tal vez en el mundo y su autor no logr√≥ conseguirle otro.

Este libro sera mas apreciado por los que amaban Vázquez Montalbán como ensayista y no solo por sus novelas policíacas; a los que no conocen aun Pepe Carvalho les aconsejo empezar por las mejores novelas de la serie, desde Tatuaje hasta Los pájaros de Bangkok.

A new release of bcbboost

September 15, 2007

I just released a new version of bcbboost, 1.34.1-5.9.2-0.2 , which supports Boost 1.34.1 and bcc32 5.9.2, which is the new compiler that’s part of C++Builder 2007 Update 3 and RAD Studio 2007. It should also work with bcc32 5.9.1 and 5.9.0, as well as with Boost 1.34.0 . This release includes improved support for the Iostreams and Parameters libraries.

461 Ocean Boulevard – Eric Clapton (1974)

September 3, 2007

461 Ocean Boulevard is the first and probably the best in a streak of rather subdued, bluesy albums that Eric Clapton released between the mid seventies and the mid eighties. While the self celebration of bands like Cream and Blind Faith has gone for good, hard core blues is still there, but it is only one of the elements of Clapton’s music from this period, albeit an important one.

The record starts off with “Motherless Children”, a twelve bar blues standard based on a fast, original riff and embellished by Clapton’s slide guitar. Slide guitar is a recurring theme of this album, in both electric and acoustic form, the latter being played on a Dobro guitar.

Another highlight of 461 Ocean Boulevard is a cover of Bob Marley‘s “I Shot the Sheriff“, which is a perfect synthesis between Marley’s reggae and Clapton’s own style, recorded some three or four years before reggae music was to become fashionable among rock musicians.

However my favorite song from this album is “Let it Grow”, a pleasant semi-acoustic song based on a simple chord sequence, which grows in intensity and culminates in a long coda, based on a simple, but effective arpeggio.

While in my opinion these three songs stand out, all the album’s song are pleasant and contribute to making 461 Ocean Boulevard varied in style and influences, while uniform in sound. If we discount live albums and collections of blues standards, Eric Clapton hasn’t issued a better record since, with Slowhand being the only close runner-up.

Spirit 1.8.5 and 1.6.4 released

September 2, 2007

Spirit is a C++ parser generator framework that uses techniques such as template meta-programming and expression templates to allow expressing one’s grammars in a syntax that’s as close to EBNF as C++’s own syntax allows. Spirit is part of Boost.

Spirit 1.8.5 is a standalone variant of the version that is included in Boost 1.34.1; it doesn’t provide new features, but contains all the fixes that were applied since Spirit 1.8.4 . You can download Spirit 1.8.5 here.

Spirit 1.6.4 is the latest in a series of releases that are based on an earlier implementation that is friendlier towards older, less standard compliant compilers. It was specifically tested and works reasonably well with all Borland/CodeGear compilers from BCB6 onward. This is a bug fix only release and is likely to be the final 1.6.x version. Spirit 1.6.4 is available here.

Both Spirit 1.8.5 and 1.6.4 are available in the following variants:

Library only (the spirit-1.x.y.zip / spirit-1.x.y.tar.gz files) – These contain only Spirit itself and require an existing Boost installation. Both were tested only with Boost 1.34.0 and 1.34.1, but should work with other reasonably recent releases.

Miniboost (the spirit-1.x.y-miniboost.zip / spirit-1.x.y-miniboost.tar.gz files) – These contain also the minimal subset of Boost that is needed to use Spirit. This is a new version of the Miniboost that is based on Boost 1.34.1 and has the same directory structure as Boost itself.