The voices that control me from inside my head say I shouldn’t kill you yet.

Self-loathing giant squid. Bad-ass fucking fractals. If Randy Newman did the theme for The Passion of the Christ. A furry old lobster and a creepy doll. GLaDOS. An extended dance remix of a contest for the world’s best pants. Tom Cruise.

Oh, and your brains.

I just had front-table seating at Jonathan Coulton’s first-ever Canadian appearance, backed up by two guys called Paul and Storm who I’d never heard of, but who were pretty fucking clever in their own right.

It was a triumph.

Update: Vaguely Satanic buddy David Nickle has Youtubed some excellent footage of last night, specifically Coulton’s ensemble rendition of “Re: Your Brains“, courtesy of Karen Fernandez’s remarkably steady hand and a Canon Powershot. If you listen carefully, you can hear me in the chorus.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Wednesday July 09 2008at 08:07 pm , filed under misc . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

9 Responses to “The voices that control me from inside my head say I shouldn’t kill you yet.”

  1. First!

    Err, I don’t get it.

  2. [is jealous]

    did he do the live rickroll?

  3. Maybe I used too many monkeys.

    That sounds very cool. *jealous* I’ve never been to a show of his, although I know someone who did a couple gigs with him in California? The whole Coulton thing is very home-made and accessible, which makes it so. much. fun. And unreliable narrators rock.

    Plus I used to basically work for a “Bob, from the office down the hall,” so I have the Un de Ad Industries tee shirt with the lyrics on it. Never had the guts to wear it to work, though.

    Anybody noticed that men, esp. science guys, identify with Skullcrusher Mountain?

  4. Jonathan Coulton can go climb a wall of dicks for all I care. Not only did he completely fail to do the research on the Mandelbrot Set, but he doesn’t even care. Yeah, some tribute to a mathematician that song is.

  5. @AR: What did he get so wrong?

  6. @AR: Brraaaaaaaaaaains.

  7. The errors are in the chorus:

    Take a point called Z in the complex plane
    Let Z1 be Z squared plus C
    And Z2 is Z1 squared plus C
    And Z3 is Z2 squared plus C and so on
    If the series of Zs will always stay
    Close to Z and never trend away
    That point is in the Mandelbrot Set

    C is never defined, so this doesn’t actually describe anything, and “series” should be “sequence.” Correcting them without altering the flow of the song might yield:

    Take a point called C in the complex plane
    Let Z1 be C squared plus C
    And Z2 is Z1 squared plus C
    And Z3 is Z2 squared plus C and so on
    If the sequence of Zs will always stay
    Close to C and never trend away
    That point is in the Mandelbrot Set

    He knows about these errors, but continues to perform the original. His appreciation of mathematics clearly extends only as deep as the pretty pictures it occasionally produces, since the importance of rigor and correcting one’s errors is utterly beyond him.

  8. @AR
    It sounds like he did the research as completely failing would probably instead cause the chorus to be about climbing a wall of dicks instead of randomly winding up fairly close to the formula.

    He probably also realizes that it is in fact a song, not a mathematical proof, and songs are not known for rigor (unless of course the choruses involve climbing a wall of dicks).

  9. Sure, most songs aren’t rigorous, but a song about mathematics should be held to a higher standard if they’re actually supposed to pay tribute to the field. Besides, making the mistake itself is no serious problem. The main thing is that he doesn’t even care.

    It’s like writing a song about the destruction of the Twin Towers in which the date of the attack is cited as October 11, and upon being corrected simply saying “close enough lol.” The only difference is that mathematics is something people expect to be able to get away with not understanding, even when they’ve elected to write a song about it.