A Super Simple Todo Package For Emacs

I’m a really good procrastinator. I can walk past the stereo’s dangling speaker cables for years and tell myself each and every time “I should fix those” and then not think about it until the next time I walk past the stereo. Which is half an hour later.

As an experiment this year, I thought I could try just to jot down all these minor jobs (as well as more important things) in a todo list and see whether that would spur me into doing these things… and the answer is, amazingly enough, yes indeed.

Just look! The speaker cables are no longer dangling randomly! (Take my word for it — it was annoying.)

The .txt file I’ve been using tells me I’ve tackled 141 different tasks, from the major to the really trivial. That’s like, er, 14000% more things than usual! At least!

Now, Having things in a .txt file certainly works, but it’s so… basic. So I thought about Org mode and then I thought uhm perhaps not today. And then I googled “emacs todo mode”, and got this:

Did you just tell me to go fuck myself, Mr. Todo Manual? I think you just did.

I looked into a couple other projects, and they all seemed to be more geared towards facilitating further procrastination — by arranging todo items in all kinds of weird hierarchies, assigning priorities and so on. So you can spend hours making The Perfectly Ranked Todo List instead of actually getting shit done.

So one of my todo items was to write a new, trivial todo package: One that allows you to enter/view/edit items, as well as assigning a handful of statuses, like “done” and “in progress”.

And then nothing much more, really.

I’m a bit under the weather today, so I’ve now found time to write that package, and I’ve put it on Microsoft Github.

It’s not like I’m super-procrastinating about other things by writing a tool to help with procrastination. It’s not like that at all! For heaven’s sake!

But here’s the entire manual on how to use it:

Type M-x anddo RET.

That’s a bit shorter than the todo-mode manual, eh? Eh?

One think I’m not quite sure about is how to display longer todo items… Yeah, you can type in as much text as you want per item, but the listing only shows the first line (the “subject”). But with an arrow showing you that there’s more, and you can display that with RET. But it seems a bit unsatisfying…

Anyway! Now I’ve done… 142 items from the todo list!

Have Anybody Made Their Best Album After 33?

Every time an older pop/rock musician comes out with a new album, the reviews are always “this is the best album they’ve made since that album that was actually good several decades ago” (and then two months later, nobody ever listens to the new album ever again).

So I’ve been idly wondering whether there is a pop/rock artist that has ever actually created their best album ever after they’re 33 — I couldn’t think of anybody offhand.

Data science to the rescue!

Now, note that I didn’t say “created a good album” or “wrote some good songs”, because that happens all the time. But their best album?

And, sure, it’s all subjective blah blah blah, but surely nobody reasonable would say that I/O is Peter Gabriel’s best album. Surely! There must be some sanity in the world!

So I picked a couple dozen artists that have had long careers, and plotted their albums in the chart above. The ones that somebody reasonably could call “their best” are marked in green. When it’s a band, I’ve picked the “main songwriter”, but bands are usually more or less the same age, so it doesn’t matter that much.

And… my intuition was basically kinda correct: The vast majority of what can be considered “best albums” are done before the age of 33. But there’s some outliers, like Pet Shop Boys, Kate Bush and Kraftwerk.

For jazz performers and contemporary composers, I think the productive career is often longer? I don’t really have a theory as to why older pop musicians stop writing banging tracks, but my guess is that they get so good at stitching together reasonably OK-sounding songs that they stop experimenting — and if you don’t experiment, you don’t fail or stumble upon new, cool tunes.

I’ve put the data on Microsoft Github, and I got the data from discogs… which reminds me that I should do some whinging about discogs:

So Eurythmics have done 27 albums? Really? Yes, because they include all effluvia like “BBC Rock Hour #434 (Version “A”)” in the “album” section, so even if they’ve really only done, like, ten albums, you get all this junk.

I’ve tried to edit out the junk, so I may have missed some, or edited too much, but it doesn’t really make that much difference to my extremely scientific approach here.

Did you know that The Beatles released 174 albums? Not many people do.

(And also: Nyah, nyah, Betteridge’s law.)

Comics Daze

I wasn’t planning on doing another comics reading day this week (since I’ve been reading so many comics lately), but then I remembered that I’m going away next week, and I’ll probably shop even more comics, so I should read the ones I already have first. Make sense? No? OK. And for today’s music: Only albums from this year, because I’m always on trend.

Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin: Ghosted II

11:56: A Witch’s Guide to Burning by Aminder Dhaliwal (Drawn & Quarterly)

Hey! This isn’t comics!

It’s pretty wild… is this meant for children? What with the different typographical stuff going on, like “burnt” burning and stuff. If it’s for children, it’s really way violent.

This seems pretty OK, really? It’s not my thing, though, so I ditched it after about 70 pages.

Pet Shop Boys: Nonetheless (1)

12:25: Alva i mørket by Aksel Studsgarth/Daniel Hansen (Afart)

This starts off in a pretty intriguing way…

… but then it rapidly becomes er a lot.

They keep piling on one thing after another — several twists, elves, secret organisations, gruesome labs, gumming conspiracies — it’s all elements we’ve seen before mixed together in random order. By the end I was going “fuck this”. Perhaps they’re aiming for a Netflix TV series adaptation? The problem is that Netflix wouldn’t have to pay to adapt it — it’s so generic.

But I guess it’s told in a pretty lively way? I can definitely see people who enjoy this kind of thing enjoying this thing, because it’s one of those things.

Julia Holter: Something in the Room She Moves

13:13: Made Flesh by Lars Kramhøft/Tom Kristensen

This is a horror book, and it’s more successful.

The artwork looks intriguing and fits the mood. And it’s a bit scary?

But it ends up relying on so many horror clichés… and worse, there’s pages and pages and pages of people explaining the plot to each other, when anybody who’s seen a couple of horror movie could guess everything without any explanation whatsoever. So it’s not a complete success, but it’s OK. (Some of the scenes (not shown here) were too grisly for me, though, but I’m a wimp.)

Ai Aso: The Faintest Hit

14:09: Drawn From Life edited by Oslo Davis

This is another thing I got from Philip Bentley (thanks again!).

This is a newspaper size thing done for a Melbourne festival.

And the theme is Drawn From Life, so you get a bunch of half page to one page things… and amazingly enough for this kind of thing, it’s almost all really strong pieces.

And there’s a page by Jim Woodring!

This anthology is a really enjoyable read.

Squarepusher: Dostrotime

14:41: The Fairy Godfather by Robert Mailer Anderson/Jon Sack (Fantagraphics)

This is drawn on a Cintiq, I guess?

Anyway, they explain the entire premise there on the left-hand page. I guess that’s an efficient way of getting the exposition over with…

Holy grid, Batman! Every page is very gridded, but a different grid on each page. It’s strangely annoying — gridding usually lets the storytelling get highlighted over the page design, but here it has the opposite effect. And the post-Drnaso palette doesn’t help, either.

And… er… burritos are “negative calorie foods”?

It’s… it’s… OK, I think this book has its heart in the right place? It’s basically a papery version of one of those “cool kids with gay parents in a small town” high school movie. So it’s got all the characters you expect: The cool dyke, the goofy brother, the cool jock, the nasty jock, the Heathers, the awful neighbours, etc etc etc. That’s OK — it’s a formula because it works, and you can do a lot within that familiar framework.

The problem is that its written as if by an alien, who has had no interaction with people like this beyond watching 80s teen movies, but trying to be all modern: You get all this 2022 “hello my fellow teenagers” slang, and using phones a lot, and even a simple thing like the sequence on the left hand page is beyond the capabilities of the artist, making it all a head scratching and annoying read.

OK, I’m being too harsh here: I like the book? It’s got some fun scenes? It’s generally likeable? But…

Kokoko!: Could We Be More (Remixes)

16:00: Santos Sister #6 by Gred & Fake

The most confusing comic book on the stands is back.

Is it a parody, or do they mean it? Even the ads are confusing.

But it’s fun.

Kim Gordon: The Collective

16:15: Hjärnan darrar by Klara Wiksten (Syster forlag)

This book is a series of portraits of people Wiksten has met — mostly when going to various things arranged as part of mental care or work training stuff.

And every portrait is a tribute — she’s on everybody’s side, and she imagines how their lives must be like.

A Certain Ratio: It All Comes Down to This

It’s great! It’s moving, it’s funny, it’s interesting. And the artwork works perfectly with the stories she’s telling.

Still House Plants: If I don’t make it: I love u

17:57: The High Desert by James Spooner (HarperCollins)

Another book about being different in a small town, but this is autobio.

Sean Ono Lennon: Asterisms

I felt at the start that it was a bit too… er… editorialised? That is, Spooner shows us what happened, and then he tells us why that happened in a very pat way — instead of letting the readers work it out themselves, or integrating it better into the narrative.

Moor Mother: The Great Bailout

But like with the author’s life itself, everything changes when we take a trip to New York — it’s like the book finally starts breathing and becomes more fun to read. I was totally on board for the last third of the book.

John Lurie: Painting With John

19:47: Krampe by Frederik Rysjedal

This is a book about swimming.

And not getting cramps. It’s fun.

Laetitia Sadier: Rooting for Love

19:52: Trær jeg har møtt by Anna Fiske (No Comprendo Press)

Lovely artwork.

The is a slightly narrative book — it’s a life told through encounters with trees (sort of), so you get these drawings of trees and that figure who is a stand-in for the author, accompanied by er I guess prose poems?

It flows really well — it’s a lovely book.

Laetitia Sadier: Rooting for Love

20:21: The End

And now I should go make some food.