Saturday, April 29, 2006


The Terror of Thomas Edison

I didn't notice at first last week when the Telegraph debuted an occasional series by John Gibbens on a book found while browsing in a secondhand bookshop -- it's a splendid idea for a column. He starts good and obscure with The Phoenix Suburb: A South London Social History by Alan Warwick, a local history published in 1973.

One of its tidbits features half of the musical team of Gilbert & Sullivan:

Another feature of modernity was cradled here, too. The first Edison recording machine to reach Britain was demonstrated in a Norwood villa, where Arthur Sullivan prophetically recorded this message: 'I am astonished and somewhat terrified at the results of this evening's experiments - astonished at the wonderful power you have developed, and terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music may be put on record for ever.'

On a not entirely unrelated note, yesterday's Slate covered the explosion of lip-synch videos on YouTube, led by the inimitable Two Chinese Boys (aka the Back Dorm Boys), who have become a minor obsession in the Collins household. They have an English-language blog now, and this video pretty much makes them the comedy duo of the year.

...or trio, if you include the roommate who always sits obliviously playing Counter-Strike on his computer.

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