A Food Critic Reviews the Swedish Chef’s New Restaurant

From the New Yorker, June 2021:

When I heard that the Swedish Chef from “The Muppet Show” was opening a Chelsea location of his celebrated bistro, Dorg Schnorfblorp Horganblorps, I was skeptical. I’m always hesitant to believe the hype surrounding celebrity chefs, especially when they’re made of felt. While the city was abuzz, calling Mr. Muppet the new Jean-Georges Vongerichten, I was certain that this newcomer was nothing more than a passing fad, a Swedish Salt Bae. But, after such a tough year for restaurants, I was curious about how this mustachioed madman’s gimmick had sustained its popularity. Eventually, I decided that I had to go see for myself—could the Swedish Chef’s bites ever live up to his bark, or bork?

If you’ve never watched The Muppets, in any of their incarnations, this won’t make any sense at all. But it shows that even the printed word is enough to bring them to life in your head. 🙂 A great read.


As an addendum to my previous post about cleaning up my music library, I completed that mammoth task and cut the cord on Wednesday last week. Or rather, I had to cut several cords, since of course this is Apple so I had to disable both iCloud Music Library and Apple Music / iTunes Store in Preferences.

The good news is that the Music app now starts up a heck of a lot faster! The not-so-good news is that there’s no built-in mechanism for finding duplicated tracks, so I’ll need to turn to third-party tools for that. Quite why Apple decided that this function wasn’t needed any more is a mystery.

But the real kicker is that I’ve subsequently found 23GB of Apple Music tracks still on my Mac, despite having told the app to remove all those downloads. I can only presume that the app misplaced them due to its temperamental nature when it comes to downloading and synching stuff.

The Peril of Surrendering Your Music Library to the Cloud

With just a few more days to go until my Apple Music subscription expires, I’ve been digging through all the remaining non-local music in my library and noting down what needs either re-ripping from CD or reacquiring. That last part is a reminder of a mistake I made long ago, one I’m going to document here so others hopefully don’t repeat it.

Many years ago, when I first got a Spotify account, I made the fatal assumption that anything I added from there would be around in perpetuity, so I didn’t need to keep local copies.

Suffice to say, that most definitely isn’t the case, and I found that out the hard way. 🙁 Much cussing (and cleaning up) followed.

That was my first burn. But worse was to come when I decided to move to Apple Music, and used an online service to transfer over my saved tracks and playlists from Spotify.

It worked… in a sorta-kinda way. I knew at the time that it hadn’t matched some of my library’s items, but not what those were.

And digging through the remaining Apple Music entries reveals that the transfer resulted in some tracks being matched to different albums. Fun! /sarcasm

So my advice to you, dear reader, is this: if you value a particular song or album, make damn sure you have a physical copy, or a digital copy that’s backed up somewhere. Anything that’s on a streaming music service should be considered as what it is, a temporary loan at best. At worst, it could disappear based on the whims of licence and/or rights holders, and may not even exist in the same form on another service.

Getting Better at Getting Things Done

I’m nearing the end of my first read-through of Getting Things Done by David Allen, a book I’d been interested in getting hold of for a while.

I read lots of articles online about GTD over the years, but most of those have been about the author’s way of doing GTD using their tool(s) of choice. It has been eye-opening to read about the thinking behind GTD direct from the source.

My current GTD system is working well for day-to-day and short-term planning, but I now realise that I need to start nailing down longer-term plans and fleshing those out into things I can start implementing.

I will definitely be re-reading the book in the near future, this time with a view to plotting out what’s missing from my current system and making a commitment to putting things in place so my long-term goals get out of my head and onto some kind of permanent record.

Twenty Years Ago

The first hint that something big was happening was when we got a call from a client based in central London, informing us that they were being evacuated from their offices as there was fear of a terrorist attack.

Radio was the only way to find out what was being reported in the news, as most websites were unreachable due to sheer weight of traffic. But all we knew was that there had been a terrorist attack in New York on the World Trade Centre.

The full impact of that had happened didn’t hit me until I reached the train station on my way home, to find loads of people milling around as services into and out of London had been halted. There was a TV on in the office of the local taxi firm, tuned in to Sky News, and I got glimpses of the footage from New York, and confirmation that two planes had been flown into the Twin Towers. I think one of the towers had collapsed, or did so while I was stuck at the station.

Eventually I got a lift home from my dad, and returned to some semblance of normality. Or so I thought.

I’m thankful now that my memory of that day is faded, and I’ve no doubt that the scars run deep for those who were closer to the event. But I wonder how many will just commemorate with “Never Forget” today and then go on with their lives, not questioning all the things that were enacted as a result of it over the last twenty years.

I have a feeling that the War On Terror, and Britain’s enthusiastic support for it (at least amongst those in government), kept alive the illusion that we are still a Great Power in the world. And that illusion fed into our foreign policies and our treatment of minorities, and ultimately into Brexit.

I find it particularly galling that the news cycle today will be dominated by those events twenty years ago, with barely a whisper of the far greater loss of life from Covid–19. Or, for that matter, the continuing carnage going on in the world thanks to the refusal to reflect on and change course on foreign policy in the wake of that terrorist attack.

But much as with climate change, fixing such problems is either someone else’s responsibility or an impediment on making lots of money.

Back when I first started buying music online, artists with their own websites were rare, and those selling their own music even more so. Now, it’s those who aren’t doing either who are the rarities.

Falling Out of Love With Apple Music

It has been two and a half years since I switched from Spotify to Apple Music for my streaming music needs. I love Apple Music the service, but I’ve become increasingly exasperated by Apple Music the software, particularly on the desktop.

The problem, in a nutshell, is that subscribing to Apple Music the service brings along iTunes Match for the ride. I’ve used iTunes Match for a time before Apple Music was a thing, but eventually abandoned it — and iTunes itself, for a time — after finding it decidedly unreliable at its stated purpose, matching songs in your music library against the iTunes catalog, and uploading those that are unique so you have copies in iCloud. The reality, alas, was that that process would either fail to complete or never even start. Worse, if you made the mistake of deleting a local music track in the belief that you’d be able to download it again from iCloud, you might not necessarily get back what you’d expected.

Unfortunately, iTunes Match hasn’t improved much over the intervening years, unless you consider not pestering with cryptic error messages an ‘improvement’. And because it also creates the data used by Genius as part of this process, if for whatever reason something goes wrong the only option is to — I wish I was making this up — turn Apple Music off and back on again in Preferences, because there’s no separate switch for iTunes Match any more.

I posted recently about bit-rot in my music library, and the culprit has been Apple Music. It finally reached the point where, just over a week ago, I decided I’d had enough. I’ve turned off the renewal for my Apple Music subscription, and I’m now in the process of cleaning up my music library and noting down what albums I need to either re-download / re-rip or purchase elsewhere.

There’s a bitter irony in this process: I’m making use of Smart Playlists to track down the music that I added to my library from Apple Music, plus a few tracks that never made it into iTunes Match and got lost along the way. That is one of the truly great features of the software, inherited from iTunes, in spite of Apple apparently not putting enough thought into updating it to work with Apple Music. (I’m not being flippant in the previous sentence: I had to resort to some reverse logic to find stuff that’s in the cloud rather than stored locally, as there isn’t a ‘Cloud Status: in the cloud’ option.)

I’m undecided as to whether I’ll stick with the Music app once my Apple Music subscription expires. While I’ll be spared the extra steps of cloud synching, I have a horrible feeling that the user interface changes that Apple made are still going to niggle. I may end up going with Swinsian again, which I used for a few years and really liked.

As far as music discovery is concerned, I’m not lacking in sources I can turn to for that, and I’m not referring to Spotify. I did briefly consider rejoining, but to be honest their Mac app felt like a tick-list item rather than something they put much effort into. Plus, from what I’ve read about Spotify these days, I’m not keen on giving them my custom.