Monday, December 29, 2003 

Uh Oh

I actually happen to like all four bands discussed here, but I still think it's a funny article.


I didn't vote strategically

Today is also when the first installment of our albums of the year feature goes up, and while that's not nearly as important as the below, it does deserve to be noted. In the five albums posted so far, there's one I voted for and four I've never heard. Maybe next year I'll distribute my points a bit more unevenly.



We just got back from the hospital. My grandmother, who is staying with us, broke her arm. She's okay, and we're all okay, but I'm crashing hard from the adrenaline and, obviously, not in a terribly good mood. A journal entry will probably follow, tomorrow or slightly later.

Sunday, December 28, 2003 

I'm comfortable with my masculinity

This is just fucking funny.


Awful fantasy

I'm a bit late with this, as it was up a while ago, but: Some forum goons at Somethingawful have made their own version of Final Fantasy 3 (6 in Japan). I've played through it a bit, and it's hilarious.

Friday, December 26, 2003 

Oh joy, oh rapture

J. Parish of and Toastyfrog brings back the Thumbnail Theatre. Sure, his TTs have a special place in my heart, but Parish is actually an excellent writer on a regular basis. He just doesn't do it enough which, actually, maybe account for his fine level of quality control (his protestations to the contrary notwithstanding).

Thursday, December 25, 2003 


Mr. Bruce has been posthumously pardoned.


Merry Christmas to all

This year, my dad took this old chair that was my Grandfather's, that I basically grew up in, and got it resurfaced. It's beautiful. Hope you're all having a good time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003 

Happy holidays

Glenn McDonald has, unsurprisingly, updated early this week so as to avoid posting on Christmas itself. I normally find his weeks of J-Pop less compelling than the weeks of music I'm more familiar with, but this one is a gem, especially the end of the first and fourth records talked about.


Especially the kid with the candy cane

You know, he's got a point.



The second of two entries on this page is just gorgeous and heartbreaking, although maybe you have to have lived a residence life, just for a while, to agree.


It's a strange world...

Finally, looks like Planetary is going to be publishing again.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003 


That Audio Bullys (sic) album is really, really good. Seeing 'The Things' on McKeating's singles list reminded me. As always, I could write about all the rich content therein, or I could just link to Marcello doing the same thing.



Stylus writer and all around good guy Scott McKeating has his own blog now. Assuming he's still at it, I'll add him to the links (and just generally update them) when I get home.


Filed and noted

For once, I'm blogging something so I can read it later: An online version of the KLF's deathless book 'The Manual', your guide to getting a #1 hit.


Over the ocean

My year end piece is up at Stylus; it's not a year-in-review piece, mind you.

Monday, December 22, 2003 


Things noted while watching Canadian music TV all afternoon:

Two things (and only two) I like about Obie Trice: Dre's backing production on 'The Setup' (that's a really neat sound) and the fact that he uses the phrase 'damn skippy'

Whatshername from Evanessence (sp?) looks quite different when interviewed than in their videos. In fact, she looks a lot better, and she wasn't exactly hard on the eyes to begin with. All of their music except the mighty 'Bring Me To Life' is kind of crap, though.

Finally saw the video (and heard the song) for the Strokes' '12:51'. Great song, despite the wholsale lack of a chorus (but what a riff!). And the Strokes + Tron = Genius.

The video for 'Hey Ya!' is even more fun than I expected. But note that of the band members, the one that gets a name closest to Andre's real name is the geeky keyboard player. Still stylish, of course, but geeky.

On seeing the old video for Ce Ce Peniston's 'Finally' (immortalized in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert): God, the early 90s were so retro-sixties. No wonder "Austin Powers" hit big.

Nickelback are shite.

So are Linkin Park (although, re: the poor outcast girl in their 'Numb' video: no one that cute would have been laughed at in the high school I attended. I'm just sayin')

Destiny's Child old xmas song still sucks.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood's 'Relax' is still mighty, though.


Super Joe

You love Bionic Commando, right? Because if not, you should probably leave.


Stupid stupid rat creatures

Re: The article my friend Caitlin is incensed about: There are many parts of it to take offense at, but the idea that the Lord Of The Rings movies (which I'm not the hugest fan of) are the product of "an adolescent male's fear of sentiment" is just ridiculous. Those films are drenched in sentiment; however, they may well be a type of sentiment differant from the kind that Ms. James is used to. That doesn't make her any less stupid, though.



Hey, Josh: It's vast 'tracts' of land.



No Sunday journal entry this week, and indeed maybe next, as I'm on vacation with my family. Probably no Wednesday one either. We'll see.



If you haven't been recently, you should really check out Stylus, as all sorts of year-end stuff is going on. Sadly, we've got more and better content than Pitchfork's end of year, but we're a music website, and the end of the year always has the best stuff on music websites. We've really got an amazing bunch of stuff this year, so check it out.

Sunday, December 21, 2003 

Oh yeah

My final grade for the semester? An _unbelievable_ 79.5. See, I got all the marks back except the one for Jeff's class, and I had a 71, 85 and 86 (just over 80% when averaged). I reall expected my mark for Jeff would be good enough to keep it above 80, but then I got a 76. Jeeze, I thought my paper was better. I don't suppose they round that sort of thing, huh?



Gaddafi abandoning WMDs (which is a good thing, of course - if only everyone else, including the States, would do the same) not because of US 'diplomacy' but because of economic factors caused by sanctions. Or wait - does that count as US diplomacy?


Sunday's Emotional Setup?

A brief word on OutKast's peerless 'Hey Ya':

I was listening to Speakerboxxx/The Love Below last night and an aspect of 'Hey Ya' that gets rarely discussed (at least in the writing on it I've read) struck me. Around the third or fourth listen to the song (which is usually when I start picking up on lyrics) and aided by Marcello Carlin's peerless investigation (it's about halfway through the entry) of the album(s), I discovered that 'Hey Ya' - in addition to being a great pop song, in addition to inspiring glee in all who hear it, 'Hey Ya' is a song of almost paralyzing terror. Listen to Andre singing "Thank God for mom and dad for sticking two together because we don't know how" (made more poignant by the story, in the later 'She's Alive, of his single mother raising him) or "You think you got it, oh you think you got it/But got it just don't get it until there's nothing at all" and tell me this is just a carefree party jam. At this point in The Love Below (as much a concept album as any prog rock band has put out) Andre is still working through a lot of issues about love (not that he resolves them by its end) and this is the song where he most fully expresses his fear/belief that Love in the idealized form does not, in fact, exist (hence "Don't want to meet your daddy/Just want you in my caddy" etc). The problem is, he does truly want that sort of love, and although 'Hey Ya' is filled with denials of the ideal, Andre is brave and honest enough as an artist (that might be redundant) to let the doubt show through, if in no other way than through the frenzy of his denial.

Of course, all of this goes out the window for the truly joyous breakdown; screw 'Shake it like a polaroid picture", my favourite part is the "Lend me some sugar/I am yo' neighbour!" part.

Does any of this detract from what everyone else is writing about 'Hey Ya', or change it worth as a song at all? Of course not. But it is a facet of the song that seems to be going mostly unremarked on.

Saturday, December 20, 2003 

None is more mighty than Doom!

No, not Doctor Doom (baddest motherfucker on the planet), for once, but a hilarious comic based on the video game.


Ha ha

You know that whole "thank you for buying this CD and not pirating it" thingy they have in a bunch of new releases these days? It really loses its force when the copy you have is a free promo.



I just realised why I like the radiohead b-side 'When Bluebirds Fly', which a lot of people hate. Minus Thom Yorke's vocal and plus a bunch of equipment I don't have, it sounds like something I might have made on Fruityloops. That's not a criticism, mind you - I like most of the stuff I've done. But it's kind of disheartening that so many people hate the track.



Pointless Waste of Time has all the big spoilers when it comes to Return of the King! (warning: contains homosexual pornography).

Friday, December 19, 2003 

Oldie but goodie

In last Friday's Photoshop thingy over at Something Awful, on this page, there is a dual homage to David Byrne and Talking Heads midway down the page. Very cool.



Upon 2nd, 3rd and 4th listen, You Forgot It In People has, in fact, two great songs. The other one (besides the obvious 'Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl') is 'Lover's Spit'. The rest is merely middling.



I can't remember if I mentioned this before, but the guitar part on OutKast's 'Flip Flop Rock' (credited to David Whild) sounds to me very reminiscent of something by the Durutti Column. Not a specific song, just very, very similar. Very cool.

And Jay Z's verse on that song is awesome, partly because it sounds so laboured.


Hullo, McFly?

"[The song] so unapologetically loves itself that it’s practically had ribs removed so it can perform self-fellatio. Welcome to our world." Jesus, NME, do you even listen to yourself these days?

Thursday, December 18, 2003 

Hey, ya

I like Tom Ewing, and I like his website, so I'm not sure about this; am I flattered he cares enough to comment? Or am I a little miffed that he's so dismissive?


One small step

"US President George W Bush does not have the power to detain an American citizen seized on US soil as an 'enemy combatant', a court has decided."



Today on Stylus, we have both a review and an article from yours truly.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003 

Wednesday's Emotional Setup: Hopeless

This has been, as those who know me can tell, a pretty shitty year in some respects. I'm not going to get into the details here, but suffice to say it's been up and down for a long time. Which mean, if I can focus on something pretty unimportant for a minute, this was a great year for me to discover the Wrens.

I'm doing the blurb for their superb album The Meadowlands at Stylus, which isn't up yet, but I also did a thing on them for the Ontarion. I'll excerpt it here.

"The Wrens - The Meadowlands (Absolutely Kosher)
So you form a band with your friends. Years later, you’re all working shitty office jobs and playing the occasional show, but really, things have passed you by. What if you were secretly one of the best bands in the country? New Jersey’s Wrens have to live with that fact, and if The Meadowlands is any indication, near-crippling levels of despair, disappointment and anger follow from it. Songs like ‘She Sends Kisses’ (one of many tales of dissolving relationships here) are powerful enough when you can’t understand the slurry vocals; once you follow along with the lyrics, the impact hits you in the chest like a shot put. More than just some noble effort from a local band, this is the sound of lives being lived. The Wrens should be proud."

'Hopeless' might be my favorite song on the album, and is perfect to blast through the empty apartment as I do the dishes, wrap Xmas presents and prepare for tomorrow's board meeting. Luckily this is one of the songs I can't directly relate to on The Meadowlands, being about finally getting rid of someone who is bad for you (and for that reason, the climactic cry of "It just won't be me, ever again" bites every time I hear this song"). Instead, I just sing along to the chorus.

That this will turn out better
This isn't what I wanted
I should have listened to them
Go thank yourself for nothing
It's really all you're good for
Ever year you wasted
And every half-assed offer"

Wish us luck.



Ha. Ha. Ha.

Sadly, people just like this are thick on the ground at the university.



The Onion finally uses my last name in an article, and it just had to be this one, didn't it? I was at least hoping to have my last name show up in a story on politics or something. Having it be in one of Tha H-Dog's was my fondest wish, but alas, we can't always get what we want.



Jacques Chirac is wading into a morass with his attempts to legally enforce secularism in France. Don't get me wrong, I agree with a good number of the commission's conclusions, but the parts Chirac has chosen to agree with seem to have a certain degree of arbitrariness.


Sigh meaningfully

Bunsen vs. the mile high club.



Of course, my personal shock and disgust aside, it is the Malaysian peoples' right to chop off part of their privates if they want to. I'm not saying we can or should stop them, just that it's an awful piece of brutality.


Holy fuck

I am against circumcision (male and female) just on general principle, as neither have been shown to have any significant benefits (especially female, of course) and, well, it's getting a piece of you chopped off. I sympathize with those faiths that require it, but think that you should let your kid grow up and decide if they even want to be a member of that faith at the risk of their, well, member.

So news that Malaysia is thinking about using "mass circumcision ceremonies to promote racial harmony" utterly horrifies and disgusts me.


So dead

So, Saddam's trial will take place in Iraq? Given the people that are going to be in a position to affect that trial, he's a dead man. I don't particularly have a problem with that, I'm just sayin'.


Decisions, decisions

Should I link to the new Ask A Girl column at Stylus? I mean, I linked to the last one... but this one is really good and Lisa even mentions this site near the bottom. Oh, would you look at that - I guess I already did.



New review up at Stylus, the worst score I've yet given out.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003 


Nick just woke up. He says so himself.


Playing God with an Arab Strap

New article up at Stylus.

Monday, December 15, 2003 

Your mileage may vary

Pretty good piece by Terry Teachout on acquired tastes, which I mostly agree with. It strikes a chord with me the same way this piece I linked to before did, and while it's a bit odd to run into two of those in a week, it's a nice kind of odd.


Saddam captured

Bunsen: our man on the scene.

Sunday, December 14, 2003 

To Do List

New journal entry up.


Ding dong the witch is dead

World reactions to Saddam's capture.

Saturday, December 13, 2003 

All you need is hate

Warren Ellis, English Socialist, on public education.

Friday, December 12, 2003 

Sometimes, even I do quizzes

Fozzie jpeg
You are Fozzie Bear.
You are caring and love your friends as if they
were family. For only they will put up with
your stupid jokes.

"Wocka! Wocka!"
Gags Beasley, comedy writer

Telling jokes, dodging tomatoes

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"

His joybuzzer, his whoopee cushion and Clyde, the
rubber chicken.

What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


International man of mystery

Thats our "Mr. TMFTML" for you.


What the fuck

I, of course, was aware the changeover was coming, but somehow the deification of Saint Martin slipped by me. Quel suprise.

Thursday, December 11, 2003 

Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl

That song is the only song on You Forgot It In People to participate fully in the beauty that the rest of the album doesn't even seem to be looking for. The Manitoba Effect strikes again.



I just called my grandmother. Not to ask for anything, and not about anything, just to say hi. That makes me the Best Grandkid Ever.



Scientists stop light. Very cool.


Man, I hate Scott McClellan

Not so much for this story or anything. I just think Scott McClellan is a shithead.


Taco grande

Glenn McDonald is one hell of a music writer, and now he takes on burritos in Cambridge. It's very entertaining.


Best reissues of 2003

It's an intriguing concept, and, as always Marcello Carlin does right by it.



Best song ever as of this moment: 'Questions And Answers' by The Apples In Stereo. Go download it.


Wednesday, December 10, 2003 

Everyone loves dinosaurs

So I've started reading Qwantz, the best clip art webcomic about dinosaurs in which the exact same pictures are used every day. Seriously, the only thing that changes is the text, and it's still pretty brilliant. For example, I think I have to agree with the Uthraptor (the orange one) in this one about Nihilism.


Wednesday's Emotional Setup: Message Personnel

This is one of those WES that just fell into my lap. I'm sitting here, about to go Xmas gift shopping with K. and trying to figure out what song to do. And Winamp throws up an old favourite.

I got Afterglow, Dot Allison's first album through the Ontarion when it came out, and I grabbed it because I'd loved 'Dirge' (off of Death In Vegas' The Contino Sessions album, featuring Allison on vocals, and possible WES material itself) and NME had liked Afterglow. It wound up having a really, really amazing EP in its depths but I coudln't get through about half of it. So I ripped the bits I liked, sold it, and moved on.

When I do that with records, there are usually a song or two that, when I hear them, make me think maybe I shouldn't have sold them. Sometimes this happens before I sell the album, so I go back and check, and, of course, the rest of the album is toss (Simian). Sometimes I buy the album back and wind up loving it all (Wu-Tang Clan). But mostly just feel wistful but don't actually do anything.

'Message Personnel' (and no, I don't know why that's the title) is one of those songs. From the second the backwards parts start up the song, I'm entranced. It's basically one big long chorus, multi-tracked Dots repeated phrases over a gorgeous, lush backdrop of backwards guitar(?) ebbing keyboards, simple drums and the odd piano. It feels sweeping and huge, and it goes on forever (actually 6:25) in a very good way. It's like a big warm duvet to burrow under, and it works beautifully late at night on headphones (one of my favored ways to experience music, certainly).

I haven't picked up Allison's second album yet, but every time 'Message Personnel' comes on, I come that much closer to doing so.



Credit where credit's due

Pitchfork's Chris Dahlen does a bang-up job reviewing the new Television reissues. Marquee Moon is a record that needs to be in everyone's life.


Funny, I always figured him for an speed freak

George Clinton: busted on coke possession charges.


Urgent & key

I think this is absolutely brilliant, and a pretty good indication of how I feel about my own critical work. It's just incredible - go read it now.


The hinterlands, the hinterlands, we're gonna sail to the hinterlands...

(title stolen from David Bowie's 'Red Sails') New review up at Stylus.

Monday, December 08, 2003 

Like sands through an hourglass...

K. passed this one along: What Michael Jackson might have looked like now. Creepy, because the difference between this version and what he looks like is even vaster than I might have guessed.


Die puny sword wielding humans

You know, Warren's been even better than usual today, but this in particular is just bizarre.

Sunday, December 07, 2003 

On the fence

Nick Southall is a fucking tease. Tells us he's going to write something interesting and then just waits. Hope he writes it soon, if he can be bothered...


I got a twelve-sided die

One of the world's oldest 20 sider is on sale at Christie's, the famous auction house. Awesome. Thanks to Tony for passing it on.


When I feel heavy metal

New journal entry. Woo hoo.


Re: Josh

More specifically, re this: definitely.

Saturday, December 06, 2003 

Miss World

Yes, beauty pageants are stupid. But can I just say that, for the Miss World one that was just held, Miss Canada (who came in second) is considerably more attractive than Miss Ireland, who won. That being said, all of the contests are of course beautiful, with the sad exception of the ones who are too skinny.

I mean really, since when are exposed ribs sexy?

PS Also, Miss Ireland is the daughter of Chris De Burgh. That's just not acceptable.

PPS interesting to note that most of the contestent profile mention the degrees the contestants have/are working on. Laudable.

PPPS (last one, I promise) I don't hold it against Miss Italy that there's a ton of spelling mistakes in her entry - after all, anyone who admits they like to read Schopenhauer is alright in my book. But when they're spelled "Socrates, Plateau and Schoupenhauer", really you'd think someone would notice.

Friday, December 05, 2003 

Police brutality = bad

But still, if you're 350 pounds with an enlarged heart due to cocaine and PCP and you try to put a cop into a headlock, I'm not sure what the cops are supposed to do. Haven't seen the tape so I don't know if they crossed the line, but let's not all rush to judgement here.


I'm running out of synonyms for 'bizarre'

Woman given a ticket for breastfeeding, being on phone and taking notes while driving. Why did she do all that? Because "belong[s] to a sect which requires her to follow her husband's orders". That's just fucking great. Does anyone else notice that it's almost the year two thousand and fucking four?

Wednesday, December 03, 2003 

Wednesday's Emotional Setup: It's Not Up To You

I left this one until later in the day to give people a chance to notice I put another short entry up earlier.

Winter is finally here. It's been snowing slightly on and off recently but finally that hard layer that won't vanish (probably) until spring is down, and sticking.

Again, finally. I much prefer winter to summer (although fall is my favourite). Every time I get one of those surveys I love I see that all or most of my friends pick summer over winter. I'm not sure why.

Summer has a boisterous maximalism to it that, for me, gets tiresome after a while. Oh, it's enjoyable at times, but after a few months I just want it to get cool again. Winter has bursts of activity, of course (and on that note, I need to make sure I go sledding with Ben this winter), but mostly it's quieter. And darker. And more still. And, of course, colder.

I like the cold, unless I have to wait in it (say for the bus). Then the ache seeps into my joints and I'm miserable. But other than that, I like the cold. Mainly because then I can retire to my warm apartment, blanket or bed to warm up. Which is always good.

Bjork's Vespertine is the album that most feels like winter to me. There's an icy perfection to it (and that's not a slam), but something warm at the core. I never listen to it unless there's snow on the ground, except for a few songs. But when it's cold out, the choir and the harp and the music box and the swell and surge of the songs is a near-constant companion. I have yet to get into the rest of her stuff (although I have a copy of Homogenic around here somewhere), but even if I hate it all I'd still have a place in my heart for Ms. Gudmundsdottir's work here. She describes it as "about being on your own in your house with your laptop and whispering for a year and just writing a very peaceful song that tiptoes," and that comes through.

But it's also, as many critics noted at the time, an album of mostly love songs. That's the warmth at the heart of it all, from the big time sensuality (har) of 'Hidden Place' to the offer of 'Unison'. But all is not rosy; there's also 'It's Not Up To You'.

'It's Not Up To You' is not an angry song, or a sad one. It is lovely, through and through, especially the chorus, Bjork repeating "It's not up to you/No, it never really was" over the expansive sigh of the strings and the friendly bassline (I can't tell you why it's friendly, but that's how it feels). It's the response to an overeager suitor (because, of course, "If you leave it alone/It might just happen"), but it's not a kissoff either. Something still might happen. And Bjork isn't just talking to him; she's also addressing herself: "I can decide what to give/But it's not up to me/What I get given" she sings. I find the song worming it's way into my heart not just for its succint version of Stoic philosophy, but because that aspect of the lyrics turns the chorus from an admonishment into a compassionate reminder, to all of us, that it's not up to us. And that this isn't a bad thing.

Which is a lesson more of us could stand to learn.




War driving itself isn't necessarily bad, but this is. Not to mention weird. Who drives around without pants?



Scurvy: It's not just for pirates any more.

Thanks to Warren for providing this one.



I'm not the most militant guy on the planet of something, but the fact that our military is disappearing seems to me to be a fairly bad thing. The world isn't good enough for us to be defenceless.


Creepy bastard

Maybe it wasn't murder, but this still makes my skin crawl.


The final countdown

Yes, China has still done many wrong things, and continues to do them. But surely we can try to get them to change and hope they make it to the moon as well? In fact, I would think this is good leverage for the rest of us, as they may need parts, etc from us. So offer them cheaply in return for, you know, fewer human rights violations.


Leaving aside the story for a minute

The fact is, if this is the cat they're talking about, it looks damn creepy. Did they photoshop it or something?


In other news

Tycho flips off a box of kittens. Goddamned felines.


The Kraken Wakes

Been browsing a bit of FFXI concept art, and they have the coolest look for a Kraken I've ever seen - basically the normal squid body merged with a manta ray. Only huge.

In case you don't know what a Kraken is normally, go here.


Padded walls

Since everyone else is doing it, finally did one of these. Strangely, I got "low" across the board. Does that make me normal or something?


Late late late late late

...but I finally got a journal entry up.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003 

Where's Gordon Gecko when you need him?

I'm actually surprised this sort of thing doesn't happen more often.



I'm not sure which part of this story I'm most suprised about.


I was away for the weekend

Okay, so Snow Crash ultimately suffers from the same problem as all Stephenson books: he ended it about four chapters too early. It was still great. Now I'm addicted to Lufia 2. Had my exam yesterday, now just two papers to go...

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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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