Friday, November 28, 2003 

Speaking of languages

Snow Crash is the best book ever. Stephenson is definitely some sort of genius. What it has over The Diamond Age and Cryptonomicron (and I'm guessing also Quicksilver, though all are fine books) is a certian sense of giddiness.


Dead languages

Whistling language being revived on Canary Islands. Neat


End of the year

Well, Nick's done it, so here's my top twenty for the year. No singles, as I never know what's been a single these days.

01. Elefant - Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid (Kemado)
02. The Wrens - The Meadowlands (Absolutely Kosher)
03. radiohead - Hail To The Thief (EMI)
04. Belle & Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress (Rough Trade)
05. British Sea Power - The Decline Of British Sea Power (Rough Trade)
06. Elbow - Cast Of Thousands (V2)
07. My Morning Jacket - It Still Moves (ATO)
08. Shins - Chutes Too Narrow (Sub Pop)
09. The Constantines - Shine A Light (Sub Pop)
10. Killing Joke - Killing Joke (Zuma)
11. OutKast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (Arista)
12. Blur - Think Tank (EMI)
13. Kid606 - Kill Sound Before Sound Kills You (Ipecac)
14. Explosions In The Sky - The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place (Temporary Residence)
15. Spiritualized - Amazing Grace (Sanctuary)
16. Chris Whitley - Hotel Vast Horizon (Messenger)
17. The Dears - No Cities Left (Maple Music)
18. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Take Them On, On Your Own (Virgin)
19. Mogwai - Happy Music For Happy People (PIAS)
20. Plastikman - Closer (Mute)

Thursday, November 27, 2003 

Wednesday's Emotional Setup: Don't Fight It, Feel It

A little late, sorry. The pressure on me from various things, mostly work related, has been enormous. Today I sat down, wrote a paper, and listened to music. And occasionally took wonderful dips into Neal Stephenson's even-better-than-the-hype Snow Crash, but that's beside the point. One of the albums I have turned to for comfort in this dark time (although I feel much better now, thanks) has been Primal Scream's masterpiece Screamadelica.

I tend to think of that record as amorphous, and none fits that better, nor my current mood of relaxation, than the great 'Don't Fight It', Feel It'. That wonderful chirping sound, a female vocalist declaring that she will "live the life I love/I'm gonna love the life I live" - yes, I think I'll just ease back in my easy chair with the Ferro Rochers K. has bought me, a can of A&W Rootbeer, Snow Crash, and just unwind. It's not just party music, it's soothing, life-affirming music. That the Scream's other masterpieces are so different in tone is a thing of wonder.


Wednesday, November 26, 2003 


This is disgusting, but there's a reason for that. Yeucch.


Good ol' Jones Soda

Now with turkey & gravy flavours. Yum.



New review up on Stylus from me - on Kid606. Sorry there hasn't been much content recently, I've been too busy and stressed to really surf the web so there hasn't be anything to blog. Not sure how long this'll last. Hopefully not long.

Monday, November 24, 2003 

In other Stylus news

The "Week In The Musical Life" articles we run every so often vary widely in quality, but the current one by Michael Heumann, is very very good. And it's got MP3s.


Working for the weekend

Another review up at Stylus.

Saturday, November 22, 2003 

Hey Apple users

Wanna know why we think you're all idiots? Blame these guys. For that one, and this one and this one and especially this one. Really, at this point most of us don't care what operating system you use, as long as you're not a dick about it.


At least they have good taste

BSP gets to open for the Strokes.


Fuckers, each and every one of them

Some asshole threw a beer bottle at John Allison's head, and now he's one of the walking wounded. Unfuckingbelievable.

Thursday, November 20, 2003 

Iggy's aroused cock

I love articles on the Stooges. Also, Tony, add this entry's title to the list of good names for punk bands.


Fucking snobs

Honestly, good for him. The division between "good" literature and "enjoyable" literature shouldn't exist in the way it does now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003 

Wednesday's Emotional Setup: On To You

Oh Lord, forgive me, for I have sinned.

I have committed the cardinal sin of music reviewing: I have reviewed an album before it's time. I have willfully not given some music it's proper chance to worm it's way into my heart. I have forsaken a band I liked, and I have been painfully reminded that my forsaking is out there for all to see. Hell, Metacritic excerpted the line "strongly, boringly decent" from my review. The shame. The constant shame.

For Lord, I have seen the light. Verily, I now am forcefully reminded that as much as I like their records (and yea, Shine A Light hath grown on me like a pleasent rash) the Contantines most make sense to me as a live band. And verily, they rocketh.

Help me in the future to remember that the Constantines embody, at their best, one particular archetype of what I believe rock and roll can and should be. And let them write more songs like 'On To You' to remind me of that fact.

Is it the fact that Bry Webb sounds strikingly like Tom Waits to me on the verses? The "oooooh-oh" lines? The bitching keyboards? The pause in the music whenever the line "And ___________ says: I'm on to you" is sung in the middle of the song? The great build up, full of "sha-la-la oooh"s, or that roaring ending?

No, it's none of that, although I love all of it too. It's the feeling Webb loads into the phrase "I'm on to you". In his hands, it's pursuit, it's knowing, it's forboding, it's loving, it's defiant, it's warm. The feel of the song is what gets me. And it's what has gotten me with every Cons song I love.


(sorry about all the 'verily's, I'm probably the only one who gets a chuckle out them)



He likes me, he really likes me. Or at least he doesn't puke down my blouse.

TMFTML actually links to something through me. That shouldn't make me happy, but it does. And it's Lisa's advice column, too - when she gets back from the States she'll be famous, at least on the internet (har har har).


Occam's Razor

Michael Jackson to be arrested on child molestation charges. Innocent until proven guilty? Of course. But, really, which is more likely: some sort of conspiracy or fraud keeps happening to the poor guy, over and over, or something wrong is going on? I just hope they get to the bottom of whatever it is soon.


That was unexpected



Dear Catastrophe Waitress

My good friend Lisa Oliver now has a forum to solve all of your problems. She's quite good at it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003 


New entry up, it's an important one.

Monday, November 17, 2003 

Why I love Joe Panzner

Every time he gives a record a good review I want to buy it. Take this one for example - on top of everything else, in 'drummer Antonio Arrabbito’s rustling brushwork' he's nailed a piece of imagry I would have used on one of my old reviews if I'd been smart enough to come up with it.

Also, in William Swygart's fine, emotional new UK Chart Roundup (no really), he feels bad about the article he wrote on lost UK band Angelica. He needen't feel bad, after his piece I want to buy their album too.

Sunday, November 16, 2003 

The future is now

Yeah, but what if you forget to take it out?

Saturday, November 15, 2003 

It's alive

Sorry for the pun, but Lyz continues to impress with another review of a Frankenstein movie.

Friday, November 14, 2003 

Oh, fuck it.

Now my friends are doing this, so why not? Go here and pick the month you were born in, bold the stuff that really applies to you, cross out the stuff that's not right. Fun.

Loves to joke. Attractive. Suave and caring. Brave and fearless. Firm and has leadership qualities. Knows how to console others. Too generous and egoistic. Takes high pride of oneself. Thirsty for praises. Extraordinary spirit. Easily angered. Angry when provoked. Easily jealous. Observant. Careful and cautious. Thinks quickly. Independent thoughts. Loves to lead and to be led. Loves to dream. Talented in the arts, music and defense. Sensitive but not petty. Poor resistance against illnesses. Learns to relax. Hasty and trusty. Romantic. Loving and caring. Loves to make friends.


Facts and figures

Sure, the filibuster is a bit of an outre tactic. But look at the end of the story: The Democrats are only opposing 4 candidates, and have during his tenure approved 168 other officials. The Republicans, meanwhile, blocked 63 of Clinton's judicial nominations.

I wonder how much US press those numbers are going to get?


Woo. Hoo.

Yet another article from me up at Stylus.

Thursday, November 13, 2003 

You know you're wrong when Dept.

Even advertisers think that yanking the show is censorship.


I don't hate Pitchfork

I really don't. I apologize if I give off that impression sometimes. I do enjoy being snarky about them, but they make it so easy. And yes, I don't like Chris Ott's writing (I don't know the guy, so I will refrain from judgement there), but apparantly he's not there anymore, at least according to their masthead. But mostly I do read them and try to give them the benefit of the doubt (even if they pinched the best guy they have, the evergreen Scott Plagenhoef, from us).

But reviews like this are so wrongheaded it's painful to read.


Jesus, I'm just on a roll today, aren't I?

I'd better not keep up the unusual density of content or else you'll all expect it of me.

I think I have another piece on Stylus tomorrow, though. And I'm going to see the Constantines tonight.


Props are due

New York London Paris Munich and the rest of Freaky Trigger is one of my favourite reads, even if they don't have enough content for me. Recently, the guestblogger taking over for the estimable Tom Ewing whilst Tom gets married has been going through the alphabet (i.e. "G is for Goths") in a very entertaining fashion.


Fuckin' a

Now, that's what I call seperation of church and state.


Why I'm friends with Josh

Because, at the end of a very entertaining post, he adds things like this:

"Remember: Meat is murder. Just shut the fuck up and eat it."


Warren fucking Ellis

A friend of mine has given me the opportunity, in January, to meet Warren Ellis. In a bar. With beer.

My only challenge, which I believe I'm up to: To not act like a screaming fanboy.



Lately I have been loving the CBC's taste in headlines. They're very dry. For example:

"Liberals not all that interested in Bono"

That's genius.


Today at Stylus

I am all over the place, with not one but two articles up.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003 

What took you so fucking long?

Finally, an inquiry into Dudley George. Who knows if anything will come of it, but at least the effort is being made.



Oh, and personally, if I am looking at porn, I'd much rather see a 'real' looking girl, complete with (to quote Wolf) "pores and her own breasts and even sexual needs of her own (let alone with speech that goes beyond “More, more, you big stud!”)". Unsurprisingly, that's also the type of girl I prefer to have real, live sex with. And I am far from alone.



Naomi Wolf's antiporn article seems to be a big deal right now. As a male, and as a male who has (gasp!) occasionally looked at porn, I can't say her fears are groundless.

But I can't say they apply to most of us, either.

And while the response has been swift and agressive, I can't agree 100% with everything they say either.

Look, porn is like everything else. Too much of it is bad, and how much is too much varies from person to person. Any analysis of its effects on people in general and not on a specific person which neglects either of those facts is going to fail.


Wednesday's Emotional Setup: Song

Smog is not a band I feel compelled to buy lots of albums from. I liked the few of Bill Callahan's songs that I'd downloaded, and so when a copy of Rain On Lens showed up in a local store used, I picked it up. And I love it, but for some reason have no desire to get anything else Bill Callahan has ever done. I'm not sure why. Rain On Lens certainly sounds self-contained, just under forty minutes and concerned, almost obsessively, with repetition.

'Song', right down to the generic title, is a perfect example. It's just shy of five minutes long, and the music follows the exact same pattern throughout. There's an initial guitar(?) part that sounds like someone playing an unamplified electric guitar, just the dull sound of the pick hitting clenched sound; there is an inexorable drum part. Once Callahan starts singing another electric guitar comes in, playing the same part over and over, and after every verse (there is no chorus) it plays a short vamp. Always the same thing.

But as captivating as I find all this (and I do - I _like_ repetition), it's Callahan's voice and lyrics that really hypnotize, that keep me riveted. I've seen few pictures of him, but Callahan always looks younger than I'd imagine, with his calm, quiet voice edging into deepness. Near the end of each verse here he sings "For some other cause", and his voice near the end dips just a bit lower, and a shiver runs up my spine. Because of his lyrics. If you take out the repetition in some songs, Bill Callahan is one of the few lyricists I would read as straight poetry. And while ranges his subject matter, his subjects are always sinister, full of evil, death, sex, tainted love, and deeply scary protagonists. As such, I feel the lyrics to 'Song' need to be put down full here:

I'm a bit like a soldier
In the way I wear no uniform
And choose not to fight
And fight all night
For some other cause

Have mercy

I'm a bit like the grave digger
Who wields no shovel
And digs no hole
But leaves the bodies to rot
In the places that they stand
For some other cause

Have mercy

I'm a bit like the pack mule
Carrying no load
Into the canyons of your jive
For some other cause

Have mercy

I'm a bit like the freelance fence painter
Who drinks ice tea you brought him
Then eyes your backside as you leave
For some other cause

Have mercy

I'm a bit like the peephole
That falls in love with all the eyes
That look through
Watching major things unfold
From minor flaws
For some other cause

Have mercy

He drawls his way through each verse, and then each "Have mercy" is short, clipped. Reluctant. The odd bit of lightness (in this case, the "canyons of your jive") bit is always mordant in delivery. And those goddamned guitars spiral into your brain. They don't gain in volume as they go on, but it _feels_ like they do. It sounds like something that's slowly gaining in intentisty until it is unbearable.

And then it stops.

All of Callahan's songs, except for the ones with two or three lines, stand up to being read. Here's a good site which has pretty much anything he's done, and everything from Wild Love on is pretty consistently good, with the odd exception. I wish someone would print the good ones up in a nice package. There are bad things in the world, and Bill Callahan is our poet laureate of them.



One step closer to the edge, and he's about to break

Gavin Mueller's stuff has, in the past, been hit-or-miss for me, but he's been really good recently and this week's Pop Playground is a gem.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003 

You're so novel

I know, I know, I'm sure everyone is blogging this, because it's (a) on the Onion and (b) about blogging. But really, it's still funny. And if my mother was less cool, I'd worry about it too. Plus she doesn't read this, as far as I know.


Pitchfork does something right

Now this is a good idea for an article. Props to Snaith for including Trooper. All the Canucks know what I'm talking about.


I know, I know

Everyone hates Oasis and blah blah blah, but this could actually wind up being very good. Or it could be pants, like everything else they've done since (What's The Story) Morning Glory.



While I was waiting for the bus home tonight, a flock of small birds wheeled overheard in a creepy, cinematic way, and this girl with extremely skinny legs walked past. The latter normally wouldn't bear comment, but her legs looked like nothing but bone. It was scary, unhealthy skinny.

Monday, November 10, 2003 

Night of the living, ass-humping dead

VG Cats sums up a few of the dungeons in the new Zelda perfectly. Thanks to my brother for passing it on...



For some reason ever since I woke up this morning two of my teeth have been extremely, painfully sensitive to cold. It kind of sucks.


Damning with faint praise

Well, the third Matrix movie was better than the other two.


Barnabas, hardly working

Here at the office still. Going to go catch the new Matrix with Ben soon (I know, I know). Saw something terrifying today, and din't investigate - there's some sort of movie called "Dirty Dancing: Something Something" coming out soon. The mind shudders.


William bloody Swygart

Has turned in another excellent dissection of the UK Top 20. I love the way this man writes.

(the fact that he likes the Delgados and British Sea Power doesn't hurt)

Sunday, November 09, 2003 

Return to central

New journal entry up, as should be normal for Sundays from now on.


Belle & Sebastian @ Massey Hall, Toronto


I know I shouldn't be suprised that Stuart Murdoch is such a good dancer, but I was.

They started off with an instrumental I couldn't place, and only referred to it as "an instrumental". I don't think it was off of Storytelling.

The opening act was Rasputina, which was kind of surprising. They put on a good show, though.

When they brought up an audience member to perform a song, the woman actually performed one of her own songs (called 'The First To Sing' - wasn't bad). The band seemed impressed that someone had the chutzpah to do that, and provided accompaniment.

The set list was not what I expected at all. The only real disappointment was they didn't play 'I'm A Cuckoo', and that the underrated Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant had only one song played, but they did make some odd choices.

The Jackson 5 cover was awesome - Stevie Jackson does one hell of a Michael.

The seats in Massey Hall are ridiculously small. K. is a mere 5'3", and she was cramped. My legs were in agony by the time it was over.

Why don't more bands in Toronto do what Belle & Sebastian did? You could walk in and take your seats by at least 7:30, the tickets said it started at 8, and the opening act was playing by about 8:03. After they were done, there was a "fifteen minute intermission" and then Belle & Sebastian started playing. Why do we normally have to wait an hour between bands and before the first one? Both Rasputina and Belle & Sebastian played long sets and we were still out of there by 11. More bands need to do this.

Amazing show.

Set list:
Step Into My Office, Baby
Wrapped Up In Books
Seeing Other People
Dirty Dream #2
You Don't Send Me
Travellin' Light
I Want You Back (Jackson 5 cover)
Lord Anthony
The Loneliness Of The Middle Distance Runner
The First To Sing (audience participation)
Stars Of Track And Field
If She Wants Me
Photo Jenny
Piazza, New York Catcher
There's Too Much Love
Roy Walker
Stay Loose
You're Just A Baby

Sleep The Clock Around

Saturday, November 08, 2003 


So I'm reading through Glenn McDonald's archives, and lo and behold, he's got a kind of response to the whole 'simplify' thing I was talking about.


On a lighter note...

The new Plastikman album is very, very good indeed.


More scary stuff

Whether or not you agree with it, it's still good reading.


Jesus fucking christ

I've been too busy to really keep up with the news recently, but this is just disgusting.


'Cuz we were dumb enough to bring our drugs to school

U.S. high school principal goes apeshit, sends in S.W.A.T. team.



I'm more disturbed by Jessica Lynch's criticism of the Pentagon than I probably should be. It's doubtless because I wasn't aware of all the crazy shit the government was claiming happened before Lynch debunked it.


Food is awesome when you're drunk

By which I mean: These saltines are the best saltines ever.

Friday, November 07, 2003 

Worth it for the headline alone

No, I'm not going to spoil it for you.



Computer games good for productivity. I'm a bit surprised they studied this, frankly.

Thursday, November 06, 2003 

Speaking of mad props

Lisa Oliver nails how I feel about Mojave 3's new album in her review: "Mojave 3 are kind of like the cherry on a sundae; you don’t really need it, but you’re certainly better off because it's there."

And she makes fun of that horrid Black Eyed Peas single. Bonus points for that.


Everything I love is combustible

It's funnier if you've been following along, but the latest 8-Bit theatre made me laugh. A lot.


We are family

Just got mad props from my little sister. I love you too, Caitie, and I think you're far cooler than you think I think you are.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003 

Wednesday's Emotional Setup: Insectivora

"I'm learning to survive"

We all grow up, some time. I don't think that ever stops. Well, technically, I don't think anything ever stops, but you know what I mean. Remember Calvin pondering what it must be like to be an adult? To know everything, finally?

Well, surprise surprise, that never happens. Come on, even as kids we could tell that. The joke was so broad, so obvious. Only now, it's not a joke.

"I'm learning to survive, on earthworms and houseflies"

The Constantines aren't much older than I am. And this is the sound of our generation, the sound of the desperation of growing up. You can hear it in Bry Webb's delivery, in the thump of the bass and drums, in those dead horns, in the keyboard hum, in the squalling of abandoned guitars. Webb fights to be heard above it, shouting nonsense phrases except for the chorus, that chorus.

That chorus is every flop house you've ever lived in/been afraid you might have to live in/drove past in your car. It's every petty betrayal you give and receive. It's selling another piece of yourself to another job you don't want. It's the slow, deadening realisation that in some ways, you don't get to be who you want when you grow up. Genetics and environment and sheer chance press in, suffocating you.

Six bucks in the bank. Nothing in the fridge. No paycheck coming. And you need another textbook, or why are you here at all? Some of us have never had it that bad. Some of us have never had it that good. Hell, I'm writing this on a computer, with access to the fucking internet, as a fucking leisure activity. I've got it pretty sweet.

But, as they've proved time and time again, take away from the human the need to worry about basic necessities and we'll find something else to worry about. What am I going to do with my life? Am I a good person? Am I happy?

That last one is especially insidious. 'Am I happy'. As if there was some objective way to figure it out, as if the was a qualitative way to be happy. Am I doing the right things? Buying the right things? Hanging out with the right people? They've said it a million times and we'll keep saying it: happiness is not a state. To quote an earlier Constantines song, "suppression is a state". It's a state because you can maintain it. You can't maintain happiness. You shouldn't want to. You do the best you can, and then you look back at it and then stipulate, "hey, I was happy there. And there. And there, and there and there, and..."

And if you can't see it, look again. Look closer. Being sad, being tortured, being fucking existentially angsty is not brave, clever, or worthwhile. We all have questions. Not all of them get answered. As with so many things in life, you accept it and you get on with your life, or you collapse into self-righteous bullshit.

Listen closer, if you have the songs. They're dealing with it. This song is a cold sweat, a sleepless night, and a missed deadline, but it is not a defeat.

"I'm learning to survive"

They're not joking. They are learning to survive. There is desperation in Webb's voice, but it is the stress and strain of a conflict won, of a precarious balance. Not of despair. Don't give up. You learn to survive, and then you learn it again. Nothing ever stops. I'm learning to survive.



Lollipops & crisps

Good for them. Hopefully other schools in Canada follow suit.


I would never lie to you

But if I wanted to, these guys could help.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003 

I like fog

The fog here has been positively spectral all day. By the time I was waiting for the bus home tonight, oncoming traffic looked like small glowing clouds with bright eyes. It's beautiful.


Tank killer

What is mysteriously fucking up Abrams in Iraq? I don't know, but it's a pretty interesting story.



Now you can enjoy twice as much John Allison! And if you don't like that, you are some sort of Godless Communist.


I'd rather be in Tokyo

My Playing God article is up today at Stylus.

Monday, November 03, 2003 

Album of the friggin' week

Written by me, up at Stylus.

Saturday, November 01, 2003 

I care about the dumbest things.

New diary entry. I think what I'm going to try to do from now on is have on entry in it every Sunday, and one WES every Wednesday. Structure seems to improve my work rate.


I feel fine

The horrors of nuclear war.



Someone crashed a car into a building where Bush was holding a rally.

The car, unfortunately, did not explode.

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About me

Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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imathers at gmail dot com

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