New iTunes script: Increment Playcount

I’ve uploaded a bare bones AppleScript that I’ve found useful over the past few weeks. The script, Increment Playcount, does what it says: it bumps the playcount of a track in iTunes by 1 and sets the Last Played date to the current date and time. It’s been helpful to me because many of my smart playlists rely on knowing if I’ve heard a track or not, but unfortunately sometimes my iPod doesn’t sync playcounts—and sometimes my iTunes library gets blown away, losing all playcount information.

To use the script, unzip it, drop the script in your Library/iTunes/Scripts folder, go to iTunes, select one or more tracks, then select Increment Playcount from the scripts menu.

More detail about this and my other AppleScripts on my Software page.

Tomorrow’s Children

It’s been one of those serendipitious days. A link on Boing Boing about a secret “cornfield” where misbehaving players inside the MMPORG Second Life get banished sent me on a search for the original story. The game makers credit the Twilight Zone, but I remembered reading a short story with the same premise as a kid in elementary school. “It’s a Good Life,” by Jerome Bixby, always scared the hell out of me, but it’s the sort of story that sticks with me to the present day.

Remembering the title of another story in the anthology, “Gonna Roll Them Bones,” I found a pointer to the anthology. Tomorrow’s Children, edited by Isaac Asimov, was full of extraordinarily creepy stories and hit me, as I was busy reading my way through the entire elementary school library, like a ton of bricks. From that point on I was hooked on science fiction, and remember being disappointed that Asimov’s own works didn’t have anywhere near the eerie resonance that these stories did. Based on the reviews in Amazon, it would appear that I’m not the only one who was warped for life by the book—and based on the prices for it on Alibris, it will be a good long time before I can get my hands on it again.

New music: The Black Angels

Listening to the KEXP podcast today (thanks to Cheryl Waters for bringing me the feeling that I was listening to my favorite radio station in my car from 3000 miles away), I found a new band. Of course KEXP found them first… They’re called The Black Angels (after the Velvet Underground song, not the George Crumb string quartet), and like their antecedent they bring heavy guitars over psychedelic droning rhythms. It’s the sort of sound that keeps getting rediscovered—think the Paisley Underground bands, Mazzy Star, or even Mogwai with vocals—but these young Texans do it really, really well, blending twists of sixties garage rock with their drones and heavy drum beats.

The band has made the KEXP Top 90.3 for 2005 on the strength of its eponymous debut EP. You can check out a full-length MP3 download and some samples on their site, and some live in studio recordings from KVRX (Austin, Texas).

Can you get to that?

Funkadelic is in the iTunes Music Store. Holy hell. I can’t believe I’ve gone so long in my life without hearing “Maggot Brain.” In fact, I distinctly remember being a snotnosed 21 or 22 year old at the (apparently late lamented) Olsson’s Records in Georgetown, checking out the Funkadelic section on the strength of the George Clinton connection (I was a mighty Parliament fan), seeing the cover of Maggot Brain, shuddering and passing by. More fool, I. The title track really is one of the greatest guitar tracks of all time. And it doesn’t stop there.

Aside: I don’t know if there is a band that had a better gift for album titles. On the strength of Free Your Mind…And Your Ass Will Follow and Standing on the Verge of Getting It On, Funkadelic should have won some sort of lifetime achievement award.