Thursday, September 30, 2004 

Oh, fuck off Dept.

Roberto Benigni is a loathsome worm, and the fact that his biggest film can be correctly called a "Holocaust comedy" is a prime example of same. Now, though, he's making a "comedy" about the current conflict in Iraq, which is nearly as bad. And it gets worse:

In a further interview on Italian Rai TV, Benigni criticised the West's role in the Iraq violence.

"Westerners are running the show, all of those doing these things have studied in the West, it is not the Easterners. We know how many dreams the East gives, and how grateful we are to the East and love all its beautiful things," he said.

I'm not exactly a huge fan of the US' recent foreign policy myself, but this is just a totally banal oversimplification of a difficult reality. Fuck off, Benigni.


Sugar in the gas tank

We're due for another reappraisal of Che Guevara - and if you don't think so, drop by my campus some time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004 


Nick Southall's rewritten A Rush Of Blood To The Head review, found here, opens with a fine account of what music criticism should be; just one version of it, yes, but one I have some sympathy for.


Rent a flat above a shop

I'm not a class warrior, nor have I or my family ever been actually poor, but Pulp's "Common People" is a song I respond to very strongly, one that means something important to me (in addition to being a great tune). I listened to William Shatner and Joe Jackson's new version with great trepidation, and for about the first half of the first verse my worst fears came true: They succumbed to kitsch.

But then Shatner locates the mainline of fury that drove Cocker, and the version takes off. It's not nearly as good as the original of course, but both versions are very angry songs, and Shatner's been an actor long enough to give some pretty effective line readings. Plus, Jackson sings when it's called for. Crisis averted, though narrowly.


Awesome Dept.

God bless The Onion. Some Yankee rabblerousers should actually issue this press release.


Tellement longtemps et mercis de tous les poissons

The Expos are dead, long live some new team in Washington DC. Great.


Young at heart

I wonder how many of the very obvious jokes this suggests are being made as we speak. But on the other hand, I wish I'd made $40,000 US by the age of 4.


Fuck Adbusters and their shitty design

I want this book. Very, very well written review, too; the point at the end is well taken.



It seems insane to me for Neil Young to issue a 16-track Best Of, but I would like to point out that close to half of my ninth favorite album of all time is represented. I can't fault any of the 16, although I do have to ask: What, no "Cortez The Killer"?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004 


Event planners were ready for such a disruption, stationing volunteers like Karolina Zabawa, 20, in the crowd.

"If anybody acts up, I just start chanting, 'Four more years!'" said Zabawa, a Drexel University student.

Ah, yes, G-d forbid someone actually utilize their freedom of speech.


It had to happen sometime

So the genius internet comic Qwantz, in addition to being funny, has the best fan art out there. Naturally, sooner or later, this was going to happen. And it's awesome. Aaron and Jeromy, you definitely want to check this out.

Monday, September 27, 2004 

Depths of depravity

This is about the most vile thing I've heard about in quite some time. Cultural relativism be damned: That kind of conduct is just indefensible, and those men should have their balls chopped off in the hopes that they'll bleed to death.


And now for something... you know the rest

On a lighter note, my review of the new Interpol is up.

Sunday, September 26, 2004 

The Floating World: Twice Removed

I have only 13 years
and I am crazy love you

Is it any wonder that Sloan's Twice Removed is an indelible part of the DNA of my adolescence? I bought it probably because I remembered "Coax Me" from MuchMusic (still the most effective use of the word "cajole" in pop music) and because I heard it was really great, and I've had a fraught relationship with it ever since. I've even sold it twice, maybe three times. Denial, nothing more. I can no more hate this album than I can hate the awkward boy I was at 18. Or than I would be able to hate who I am now when I turn 30.

maybe, maybe it's my fault
I should take it with a grain of salt

From the first flurry of international mash notes on "Penpals" to the confused freakout and sudden stop of "Before I Do", let alone the twee coda of "I Can Feel It", I find it hard to credit that the four guys in Sloan were basically adults when this was written and recorded. I remember listening to this on the stationary bike in my dad's basement incessently during OAC year of high school, thinking of certain people (no names please; it was a long time ago). Grade 13 (as it's also known) was really the first time I noticed girls, and to say it was hell would be generous. Luckily I had songs like "Snowsuit Sound", where it sounded like Jay Ferguson was going through the same thing.

on an innocent trip, how can one ruin so much
a belief in a soul, in a beauty, or in a touch

The two hits, at least up here, were "Coax Me" and "People Of The Sky". Both are brilliant songs, but I think I have to give drummer Andrew Scott's "People Of The Sky" the slight edge. Like pretty much all of his songs there's something more weird/complex/interesting/whatever than most Sloan songs, but unlike say "Sensory Deprivation" off of Between The Bridges it's also very catchy. Of course, "Coax Me" has the one line I've probably referred to more than any line by any band before or since: "It's not the band I hate, it's their fans".

I saw his widow speak on her fortune
she was feelin' pretty apathetic

Much of the record is nakedly emotional, of course. "Bells On" if performed differently could be the lyrics to an emo song, Chris Murphy asking "If I had a funeral, would you even care?" "Loosens" is just some sort of horribly depressing anti-ballad, fraught with loathing both self and otherwise, sick suspicions and worse knowledge. The tryptich of "Shame Shame", "Deeper Than Beauty" and "Snowsuit Sound" might as well be the soundtrack to a latter-day John Hughes movie, especially "Deeper Than Beauty" which so precisely nails the class clown in his lust for the bookish girl it's almost painful.

I dreamed that I kissed your mouth
and you thought about me

Is this power pop? Is anything? What the hell does that mean? Genre tags are nebulous at best, but "power pop", wielded as both insult and praise, is especially brutal. Is "Worried Now" power pop? Is "Coax Me"? Hell, is "I Can Feel It"? Is "Snowsuit Sound"? They sometimes sound a bit like Matthew Sweet or Teenage Fanclub (or a million other bands), does that matter?

put me back
into the same shape
how you found me

Because of when I let this album into my life, there will always be something sad and pathetic and defeated about it to me. It is the soundtrack to not getting what I want. Maybe that's one of the reasons why it push/pulls me to get rid of it and seek it out, to never want to hear it again and then put it on repeat rotation a few days later. Call it masochism if you like, but sometimes you want to hear something that puts you in touch with the lesser aspects of yourself. I had stuffed six basically random albums in pack today for work, and once there I had that horrible gut-wrenching feeling the serious music addict gets when they realise what they really want to listen to (Jens Lekman, but I'm trying not to overdo it) isn't at their disposal.

but I'm too relieved to hold a grudge

I remember the parts of the year where I loved this record most very clearly, the basement with the mice and the stationary bike, watching "Beast Wars" with Ben and Dad in the morning before school/work, the computer in the living room and a downloaded copy of Lufia II. Never been drunk, never fucked, fought plenty of times. Actually that was years after my last serious fight, a circle of twelfth graders around me because they thought it'd be funny if Jon Hammond punched me a few times. It didn't hurt. He cut open his knuckles on the frame of my glasses, didn't even damage them. Fair enough; he'd been tormenting me for months, and I'd beaten him up a few times in retaliation. I was terrified though; those grinning older kids, clearly itching for me to fight back so they could step in. I stood up straight and didn't move. A few years back, long after I'd seen him last, Jon Hammond committed suicide. I never asked how. My temper is much better these days.

I would love you
but I am overcome with shame

For such a social person, I've been having a hard time with people lately. I don't know why. They seem to be disappointing me more than usual, and that's hard to deal with. As a result I spend more time alone, but I hate that. Music, of course, can be very social or very private or both or neither. I've had plenty of friends who like music to varying degrees, but very few who like music in the same way I do (Pete, I suppose, and then some others; but except Pete, these are all people I talk to online rather than hang out with and he's in Oakville). I wonder what, if any, difference that would make. Right now I feel like I'm single (that hideous yearning) without, of course, being single. And it's not like I'm going to forget that, either; but for some reason this feels worse, to be not looking but not with anyone (I mean in the physical proximity way, not the relationship one), than it used to be when I told myself I wasn't looking anyway. Maybe I should get a pen pal.

I suppose that I've seen you three times now
and I guess that I'm
wondering how
you keep the boys at bay;
I have a feeling that they
are wondering, too

How different would Sloan be if there was a female in the band? Like an awful lot of all-male (and all-female bands, to be fair; that I think Plumtree was an exception to this is a sign of my esteem for them) bands, their songs about relationships sound slightly off. Too much wishing and wish fulfillment. Too much idealisation, not enough work. Actual adults don't form relationships like that. Actually, they do, all around you; but look at the mess that makes, the terrible toll enacted, and tell me something a little more mature wouldn't be to your liking. Have people really always been as incapable of knowing what they're doing, of how to find someone who is good for them except by trial and error, as me, my friends and loved ones seem to be? What the hell are we doing? Some, including myself, have been known to joke that Joy has a "broken man-picker". Which has been true to some extent, but look around: What the hell are we boasting about in comparison? To quote Dylan, I'm sick of love. I'm lovesick. Twice Removed just shows the preliminary symptoms, heads swollen with false bullshit and teenage lust (which is different from adult lust how exactly?), hearts breaking and mending with depressing monotony.

never got to tell you that
I was your greatest fan

Anything written is a pose; Sloan aren't these people, these forlorn puppies and lusty wiseasses, and I'm not a curmudgeon. It's just music, just pop music, even. Twice Removed means more to more people than anything I'm likely to do with my life (and isn't Shaun Of The Dead most uncomfortable, a very despairing and even sad film, behind the laughter and the gore, for its indictment of settling? It takes the motherfucking undead arising and killing almost everyone he knows for Shaun to sort his life the fuck out - and even then, what's changed?), but who cares? For me it's a trip down Memory Lane, not nostalgia exactly but definitely the past. I can place every note just before they appear, even if only during the flow of the songs, it's engraved on me as only something listened to with fervor can be. When you're my age and look back and who you were surrounded with in high school and who you're surrounded with now, the question becomes even more vital: Who do you spend your life with (both romantically and not)? How do you choose? Can you even choose? Is there any possible way to not fuck this thing up? (Plumtree, "Thrilled To Be Here": It takes the two of us to screw this thing up)

and he said, "I dunno what I'm doing here
I'm a business man
he didn't come and tell me
they totally misunderstood me you know
this is a whole, whole mistake here
this is a whole fuckin mistake
but I can't explain it and they don't wanna listen to me
you know, you know this
no they didn't, they didn't listen to me, you can't help it
I couldn't explain it, but business is business
and then there's fuckin this other time
this fuckin town, they didn't wanna let me out
they didn't wanna let me telephone you directly"

Today I walked home from work, across campus and down Gordon Street, headphones on, listening to Twice Removed. I got to the end of "Shame Shame". I think I understand how Aaron feels. "I wrote your name for all to see", yeah, but he's still overcome with shame. Because he didn't read a goddamned book. We may be finished with the past, but the past is never finished with us. These sentences are just as valid with any other emotion inserted: "Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?" Some albums just wear a groove into your life until one day you realise that unless you want to cut that part of your life off like an arm caught in a trap and suffer phantom pains for the rest of your years, you have to acknowledge them. Some days I want to smack Chris Murphy in the face, some days I want to chuck Twice Removed out the window once and for all, but then again some days I'd like to be a better person than I am.

"happy birthday
to the best brother in the world"
at least I'm cool still to one girl


Lazy Sunday

New journal entry up at the usual haunt.


So sue me - I've been bored

Aaron's blogging again, thank christ.

Friday, September 24, 2004 


Nova Scotia has legalised gay marriage.


Mixed feelings

I'm not necessarily down on Super Size Me as this article is, but it raises some interesting points about what, exactly, it's still acceptable to discriminate against in this day and age.


Best thing ever (this minute) dept.

Astoundingly great opening lines for song:

Yeah, I got busted
So I used my one phone call to dedicate a song to you on the radio

It's from Jens Lekman's similarly wonderful "You Are The Light (By Which I Travel Into This And That)" - his debut album struck me as not much on first listen, but it's growing on me enough to be an end-of-year contender.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004 

(A) step forward

Ottawa has forgiven the debts of three impoverished African countries. Good for them - for doing this, and for saying "Canada [will] stop collecting debt payments from heavily indebted poor countries if they [commit] to reducing poverty, spending on social priorities such as health care and education, and protecting human rights." It's a start,anyway.


I am alive and you are dead

Great article on Philip K. Dick, adaptions, and crap. A sample:

"It’s difficult to imagine a writer who could have appreciated the adaptation of his works into a series of increasingly bad movies more than Philip K. Dick. The progression from Blade Runner through Total Recall to Paycheck has all the hallmarks of one of his stories—black irony, psychological degradation and the implication of a vast conspiracy organized to deceive and persecute one man. The young Dick would have written it as a dark comedy, the older as a bizarre Christian fable."



Those microwave weapons I blogged a while ago are aready ready to be used - in Iraq, no less.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004 

Stupid outages

A doubly-delayed journal post is now up; you'll see what I mean when you read it.



Today you get not only my shameless desecration of what is, in many peoples' opinion, a fine album, but a review of this compilation of Indian music I give a harsh look at.



So any normal guy with few cooking skills and little food in the house who had decided to make instant mashed potatos would have had to settle for thick white flavourless sludge. But not I; I, being the superior intellect that you all know and love, made Garlic Curried instant potatos with Mushrooms.

I wouldn't say it was fine cuisine, but it was pretty tasty.

Oh, and the journal entry for this week is on hold until I get some free time (tomorrow? Wednesday at the latest).

Monday, September 20, 2004 

"That ass must've given God a boner while he was sculpting it"

Best Questionable Content ever. And it's one of the best webcomics out there, so that's high praise.


Wow dept.

I had borrowed the Magnolia soundtrack recently, but hadn't had a chance to sit down with it until tonight. I've only seen the movie once (and loved it), but it all came flooding back. The soundtrack alone packs quite a punch, including of course the deadly combo of "Wise Up" and "Save Me". I'd forgotten how much I like Supertramp, as well. If I'm going to be moping around, this is the way to do it.

Sunday, September 19, 2004 

Makes you feel like a piece of meat

Simon from silverdollarcircle (who did an excellent Grime primer for Stylus, here) and I have exchanged a few emails recently, and discovering that he has Fractionals blogrolled over there was a nice surprise. Even if it did weird me out a bit (I'm not used to discovering people I don't know read me).

Anyway, he mostly writes about Grime and other urban British sorts of music, but don't let that put you off if you're a clueless North American like I am. He does it very well, in a very non-exclusionary way (sadly a relative rarity). And this recent post, on televised plastic surgery, is just excellent no matter what you listen to.


Rated arrrrrr

Well swab me decks and steal me booty, I hope you're all talking like pirates, because it's that time of year again.


Best thing ever right this moment dept.

(yeah, the dept.'s name slides around a bit, but you know what I mean)

The Sick Anchor's (that's Stuart Braithwaite from Mogwai and Aiden Moffat from Arab Strap) version of Atomic Kitten's "Whole Again". Genuinely heartbreaking.


Meh dept.

I know this is important, since I live in Ontario and all (and honestly, at least he sounds better than Flaherty), but I just can't bring myself to care.



Okay, attention conservation notice: Indie rock humour.

So I downloaded a file labelled "The Postal Service - Bend To Squares". I figured maybe it was Ben Gibbard's side project covering his main band. Only to discover, just now, that it's just the original Death Cab For Cutie song. Man, some people are just dumb. This ranks up there with when I got a Kinks song labelled as Madness.



Tonight while walking home past Van Gogh's Ear (a bar/club) I heard the dulcet strains of the aformentioned "Goodies" (single of the year?) blaring from the second floor. This brought to mind first year, when Paul (due down here next weekend) and I and the girls (six or seven of them) would head to VGE and the second floor. Yes, I miss the people, but I also miss the sound of the club hits of the day heard in their proper environment. I love "Goodies" to distraction (it alone is responsible for the Petey Pablo I have now downloaded and come to love), but I've only heard it on these computer speakers. It sounded sublime blaring out of a club.

Best (i.e. most lucid) drunk post ever. At least until these sentences. Ah well.


"The hall became quiet, and after a moment Hrothgar spoke,"

Post by me up at the Salon, about Grendel (the novel, not the comic).

Saturday, September 18, 2004 


Oddly enough, the middle bits of Petey Pablo's "Freek-A-Leek" make me think he might have heard Sonic Youth's "Swimsuit Issue" and found it hilarious. My conscience aside, I still prefer "Freek-A-Leek" (but not as much as "Goodies").


Science vs. fundamentalism

The great Umberto Eco on fallibilism.



While poking around my hard drive I found the following saved from a few years back. I ran into it in first year and liked some of what was in it, but reading it today was kind of creepy - some bits are a tad trite, and certainly all of it doesn't apply, but mostly it sums up what I've been feeling the past few weeks. A few especially on-point parts have been bolded.

The usual caveat applies to people who know me; if you tihnk I'm referring to you and it's bad, you're probably wrong; if you think I'm referring to you and it's good, you're probably right.

"They call it the 'Quarter-life Crisis'. It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are a lot of things about yourself that you didn't know and may not like.

You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get hot and scared because you barely know where you are now.

You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren't exactly the greatest people you have ever met and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones.

What you do not realize is that they are realizing that too and are not really cold or catty or mean or insincere, but that they are as confused as you are.

You look at your job you have right now. It is not even close to what you thought you would be doing or maybe you are looking for one and realizing that you are going to have to start at the bottom and that is scary.

You miss the comforts of home, and will soon miss the ones of university or college as well.

You miss the safety of groups, of socializing with the same people on a constant basis. But then you realize that maybe that weren't so great after all.

You are beginning to understand yourself and what you want and do not want. Your opinions have gotten stronger.

You see what others are doing and find yourself judging a bit more than usual because suddenly you realize that you have certain boundaries in your life and add things to your list of what is acceptable and what is not.

You are a bundle of contradictions though -- you are insecure and then secure.You laugh and cry with the greatest forces of your life. You feel alone and scared and confused, yet excited and curious of what life will bring your way.

Suddenly change becomes an enemy and you cry and cling on to the past for dear life, and then realize that the past is drifting further and further away and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward. The questioning ones plateau, the sure ones rise.

You get your heart broken and wonder how someone you loved could do such damage to you or you lay in bed and wonder why you can't meet anyone decent enough and worth your while to get to know better.

You love someone but maybe love someone else too and cannot figure out why you are doing this because you are not a bad person.

One night stands and random hook ups start to look cheap and getting wasted and acting like an idiot starts to look pathetic.

You go through the same emotions and questions over and over and talk with your friends about the same topics because you cannot seem to make a decision.

You wonder what the hell is wrong with you. You worry about loans and money and the future and making a life for yourself and while winning the race would be great, right now you'd just like to be a contender.

We are making a lot of mistakes, but helping one another to learn from them. We will piss one another off, and laugh at the end of a conversation that started with angry words.

We are a group that talks behind the backs of the same people we call to meet up with on a Friday night, but we are sorry about it and we know that we were just being insecure like they have been [Editor: Okay, this bit is more first year than anything].

What you may not realize is that everyone reading this relates to it in one way or another, and we are all in this together.

We are in our best of times and our worst of times, trying as hard as we can to figure this whole thing out.

We are friends, and in 10 years we will be friends who have figured out where we fit in in this world. Hopefully in those ten years the friends we went through this crisis with will still be close by and in close contact and questions will be answered along the way because we will be there for one another."


My love is squared

You'd think with the number of days Girls Are Pretty devotes to modern love, it'd grow stale. But then they pull out something like this and you realise that Bob Powers is fucking awesome. The man's ability to end an entry precisely where it should end is unrivaled.


Everybody knows the dice are loaded

I know Jer linked to this already, but it needs to be here too: 70 things about Leonard Cohen, in honor of his 70th birthday.


The full (dinosaur) monty

Best Qwantz ever. From where do you hail, you attractive individual?

Friday, September 17, 2004 

Waking up to you

My most personal top ten yet is up at Stylus.

Thursday, September 16, 2004 

Told you so

See, Joy, this is why we should go see Hero.

But if we miss it in theatres, I've got it on DVD and you've got a decent TV.



Some debate in the comments section over at the esteemable John Scalzi's site has reminded me of something that really bugs me.

Can an American please explain to me why socialism is intrinsically bad, while keeping in mind that socialism is not communism and communism is not the USSR? It's always thrown around as if it's the second brother to fascism or something, but nobody ever backs this up.


What we need more of is science

Now they can use a bit of cheek skin to fix your corneas. Fucking amazing.


Well, they would

US says Iraq invasion was legal.


"Should a monster be portrayed as a human being?"

It's depressing but not surprising that Germany has problems with any portrayal of Hitler short of utter demonization. The fact remains - he was a human being, which makes what he did more terrible and harder to deal with. But that's what we have to do.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004 

There's a shocker

A while ago I said that whether or not Johnathan Idema and his loathsome compadres realy were aided by the US government or not, he was going down. And lookie here - he is.


Home at dawn

I have got to stop staying up and listening to music. I've reverted to my activity patterns from second year, fer chrissakes. Still, can anyone explain why this (from Superchunk's old b-side "Home At Dawn") has always made me a bit weepy? I know why it's worse right now, I'm just curious about why it happens in the first place.

I tried to grab a bunch
But there was only one
I tried to crawl away
But gravity made me run
I tried to resist, I tried to resist
You held me by the arm
I tried to make a list
But there was only one

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 

Don't forget to visit AllInsect

Best ScaryGoRound ever. Read about a week back first, though.

Monday, September 13, 2004 

Back to school (or some other Deftones song)

For some reason the first day of school, walking around campus, is always particularly vividly soundtracked in my head. This year:

Belle & Sebastian - "Your Cover's Blown"
(I should have stayed home)
Stars - "Heart"
(I'll make it up for you / I'm still in love with you)
Pavement - "AT&T"
(Spritzer, on ice in New York City...)
David Bowie - "Blackout"
(Get me off the streets)


What have I done to deserve this?

I believe K went to this - at the very least, she planned to.


A few observations upon returning to school

[Written in the CSAHS undergraduate computer lab, basement of the MacKinnon building, University of Guelph.]

1. Each year I get so used to the nice, slow, relaxed, empty campus during the summer, and each year I get more annoyed when everyone comes back. It's my campus, dammit, go away. My usually mild misanthropy springs into full bloom with the fall each year.

2. Each year, no matter how hard I try, I will screw something about my schedule up. In this case: My first MWF class is 12:30, not 11:30.

3. Running into people I haven't seen all summer is nice, though.


I need to see you alone

My review of the new Belle & Sebastian EP is up at Stylus.

Sunday, September 12, 2004 

It's a big one

New journal entry, link on the right as normal.

Saturday, September 11, 2004 

I admit it

When I first heard Superpitcher's "Happiness", due to an old post of Todd's that I now can't find, I thought it was boring. Now, a few listens later, I have come to the conclusion that he is 100% right about it, and I am 100% wrong. Interestingly the strings remind me a bit of Scannerfunk's underrated Wave Of Light By Wave Of Light, and the whole vibe reminds me (for whatever reason) of Broken Social Scene's "Lover's Spit", still the only really worthwhile track on You Forgot It In People aside from "Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl".

Oh, and while I'm being honest, no matter how much some section of my brain tells me I hate Snow Patrol's "Run", I still love it.


First impressions

You wouldn't think I'd find a story called "Proof love at first sight exists" disheartening, but the title is pretty misleading. The basic point of the story: people are judgemental. Gee, thanks.

Friday, September 10, 2004 

Last one, I promise

Maybe I really should call it the saddest Hefner song ever, circa this minute, but we have a winner: "Another Better Friend".

It’s not love it just smells like it
The scent of summer is so exciting
No matter how you brush your teeth
I can still smell the nicotine
And there’s no face I’d rather kiss than
Your sweet face, oh when it’s smiling
I loved you until you were bedded
And our parents still talk of a wedding

Those bruises don’t betray any violence on my part
You’ve taken my possessions, we’re both dressed up like tarts
But it’s miserable and sluttish to be acting like I do in front of you
No matter how you try you’ll never be as cheap as me
When people have got no one else they can always sleep with me
And no one else could be a better friend to you than me

It positively reeks of despair, among other things.

Sorry for the repeated posts, but I've loved Henfer since I was eighteen, and for whatever reason I've listened to their entire back catalog last night and this afternoon. It's worth checking out, especially if you like sad song (obviously).


Weak sauce!

This is maybe the most perfect example of why you should read Pathetic Inc. So funny.

Oh, and a postscript to the last post; "I Stole A Bride" is a more faithful adaption of The Iliad than, say, Troy. Sad, isn't it?


I take it back

The saddest song ever, circa this minute, is indeed by Hefner, but it's actually "I Stole A Bride".

When she lies with me
Will she pretend I'm pretty
Will she forget I'm ugly,
Oh I've lived a lie, I stole a pretty bride during the summertime

I mean, jesus.


Late night listening

Saddest song in the world, circa this minute: Hefner's "Tactile".

And I’m not lonely, I’m just bored
Her clothes are strewn over the living room floor
I don’t want to get laid I just want to be held

Thursday, September 09, 2004 

Obligatory quiz

Every so often I just have to do one of these. I'm weak, I guess.

I am Harold, from "Harold and Maude." I'm
a sensitive, but...weird...soul.

Which Random Cult Movie Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Huh. And I've never even seen that movie (although after this I want to).


Number game

I'm just full of sweetness and light this afternoon, but like Warren, I can't resist this stat either.


Thank goodness

Oh, well, now we can start to worry about Darfur. Jesus.

Apologies, but that's the bitterness talking - same reason I haven't really linked to anything about the area. It's impossible for me to talk about it without becoming angry.


Pop tidbit

This story at NME isn't terribly interesting, but look at the picture: Beyonce's got a bikini-type thing on, Kelly has more clothes but still lots of cleavage, and the third one has a dress that goes all the way up to her neck.

I guess in today's pop culture, being more famous (as a woman) means you get to show more skin. Awful, innit?


Dadasaurus Rex

Ryan North's Qwantz is already pretty super; it's one of my favorites for its consistent tone and funniness. But now some madman brings you the dada version - new comics every minute, all composed of the source material jumbled beyond repare. Its sauciness may be a danger to your health!


Words we'll never take back

The Low box set that you really, really should hear has been reviewed at Stylus.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004 

Two things

1. On REM's excellent (career best?) New Adventures In Hi Fi, there is a song (a good song) called "Binky The Doormat". Near the end there's a sound somewhere in the background that, to this day, I could swear, is someone saying "Ian". It freaks me out.

2. After giving back the now outmoded university mail keys of K.and myself (they're not using the mailboxes anymore), I have exactly three keys on my key ring. The key to my apartment door, the key to my building and my mail key. For some unaccountable reason this depresses me slightly.

Monday, September 06, 2004 

So I sez to him, "Be fruitful and multiply". But not in so many words.

This is kind of scary, but mostly just frustrating. Fuck politics, we should just fuck. I guess.


News flash

Well, I talked to (a very tired) K. at about 4 am this morning, 9 am London time; nothing was delayed, she got there in the proper time. By now she's set up camp in her residence for the next semester.

Sunday, September 05, 2004 

Decent days and nights

New journal entry up.


The shame of it all

The more I read by Martha Nussbaum, the more I like her.

Friday, September 03, 2004 


I've been trying to avoid news of the upcoming election for a while now, but I ran into something vis a vis Zell Miller that tickled my fancy. It was a comparison of Miller's 1992 speech at the Democratic Convention and his one this year for the Republicans. I can't track it down now, no matter what I try, but this is almost as good.


Road to nowhere

This is the best Reagan eulogy I've yet read, even if I did stumble onto it late.


Trade your pistols for coffins

Just got my D.O.W. shirts, and they're fucking awesome.

Also awesome: "Hermann Loves Pauline" by the Super Furry Animals.



Having partook in the wonder/abomination that is Chip Nuts before, I can tell you this, Tyler: They're both so good and so bad. As you've probably found out.



Read this story, then read this one. I think the first makes it pretty clear that Andre wasn't there to support the Republican party.


The first time

It occurs to me that there is no close listening quite like the close listening you do when a band you love comes out with the first new thing you've heard from them in a while. It's only happened a few times in my life - New Order's "Crystal", Six By Seven's "Ready For You Now", Readymade's "Nightsky Of Exit Signs", maybe a few others - but it's a very powerful feeling.

Of course, all the above were even better than I expected, which helps.

Thursday, September 02, 2004 

The Floating World: Let's Face It

It's been a while, but between cramming as much time with K. as possible and then the digital recorder blowing up I just haven't been able/wanted to write anything more than my commitments require. Which is funny, because I haven't stopped having things I want to write about. But I'm finally spending the night writing rather than slaying evil in Diablo 2 or reading, so it's time to stretch those prose muscles again.


There is a very specific pleasure in revisiting the things you loved in your youth and finding they have lived up to your memory - or more aptly, that your younger self's taste has at last partially lived up to your current self. When K. was getting ready to leave the country she was kept busy ripping a wholw bunch of my CDs, and she also borrowed about 20 from Ben to grab. It was that load that caused me to encounter the excellent My Chemical Romance record I raved about on Stylus recently.

Also in that load was the Mighty Mighty Bosstones' Let's Face It album. I remembered really loving "The Impression That I Get" as a kid, and being favorably impressed with the whole disc when I borrowed it from Ben on a car trip. Originally I was just going to write about "The Impression That I Get", but upon rediscovering the album I found the rest of it is just too good to be ignored.

It is, first and foremost, the Bosstones' Madness album. I remember Ben also owned a certain Madness compilation that had gravel-throated Bosstones singer Dickie Barrett writing the liner notes, and their influence on the Bosstones was never clearer than here. Yes, the heavier punk influence is still all over the record (especially on "That Bug Bit Me", "Nevermind Me", "Desensitized", and so on), but not only is the noise toned down for a series of horn-led ska numbers but the lyrics are Barrett's leanest, most socially aware set. The title track is a great example; yeas, it's another song decrying bigotry, but listen to the chorus:

Let's try to erase it
It's time that we faced it
If we don't than who will? Shame on us

Although the song doesn't suggest that either the band or its fans are racists or homophobes, it does correctly identify the concern that no matter how high-minded Barrett or his like are, unless they back up their words with actions nothing changes.

Even more striking than this, though, is the number of songs on which Barrett, counter to the stereotype in punk, freely admits doubt, guilt and weakness. "The Impression That I Get" is the most striking example; it's a song about nothing more than thanking luck and grace that you've never been in a really bad situation. Barrett isn't hectoring the listener to be thankful for their luck, while still projecting the idea that he's a badass (as punk tends to do), he freely admits his own uncertainty:

I’m not a coward, I’ve just never been tested
I’d like to think that if I was I would pass
Look at the tested and think there but for the grace go I
Might be a coward, I’m afraid of what I might find out
I’ve never had to knock on wood
But I know someone who has
Which makes me wonder if I could
It makes me wonder if
I’ve never had to knock on wood
And I’m glad I haven’t yet
Because I’m sure it isn’t good
That’s the impression that I get

It's a far more honest song than most of its ilk, and to boot one that when the album went platinum had a message that teenagers slinking through high school could actually relate to. Plus (and this is the most important thing), it's a great fucking song. The horns really earn their keep, and it's perfectly pitched between the anthemic and the catchy. All of the songs here are stripped down to the bare essentials (even the slightly dubbed-out "Another Drinking Song"), the album rocketing past in just over thirty minutes. There's a sharp cogency to the song lyrics and humility that's pretty rare in the lesser bands of this type (even look at the asides in "That Bug Bit Me", which could be about music, drugs or love - "It's bitten bigger badder bastards than the one I am").

Examples continue to abound: "Nevermind Me" is about getting rolled by a junkie for drug money, and feeling bad about it; not because of the loss of material possessions ("What is gone I won't miss or I'll replace"), but for his assailent. "Another Drinking Song" again refuses to avoid blame - the character telling the story may claim "What you call the disease I call the cure", but the way the story is told makes it perfectly clear both that he's wrong and that as long as he continues to delude himself he can't get better. "Numbered Days" may be the portrait of a violent thug getting his just desserts, but there's still room for pity when he breaks down and cries after his buddies show up only to testify against him. The roaring "Desensitized" and "Break So Easily" are less specific but again they speak not of braggadocio but of fragility and culpability; "Desensitized" even expands outwards to address our increasing powerlessness over the big events ("Recently I think I heard/It could have been avoided/It shouldn’t have occurred").

But of course, this is also a fun little LP. The skanking "Royal Oil" may be a anti-drug song, but it's got a pretty indelible chorus, and "Noise Brigade", "The Rascal King" and "1-2-8" are more about the sound than anything. And like Madness, even on the more serious songs the thought doesn't get in the way of the beat. As mentioned, the horns that are all over the place punch up the sound considerably, and Barrett and his fellow songwriters know their way around a chorus.

It was the fun I remembered from my teen years, but it's the depth that's impressed me so much this time out. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones manage to speak to personal responsability without ever lapsing into preaching; at worst they're a bit obvious ("Royal Oil"), and at their best, whether the undeniable "The Impression That I Get" or the rather chilling "Nevermind Me" ("He seemed to hate what he was doing") these are some of the best songs of their era and a fitting successor to Madness.

I'm pretty sure much of what we were listening to at the time won't hold up as well as Let's Face It does, but I don't need it to. Discovering one bit of my past that's better than I remembered is more than enough for now.


The roster's been stripped bare

My At Dusk review is up. It really is an excellent album, you can download it all for free here (click the "music" link), and you really should check out at least a little of it, say "Come Too Far" and "Tired Eyes".


"In the course of any normal person's life, miracles happen roughly once a month."

Skeptics normally strike me as pretty humourless and annoying (sadly, since we agree about a lot of stuff), but this article, about statistics and supernatural premonitions, is great fun. I can't take Shermer over a full book, but in smaller doses he's pretty helpful.

[Edited to add: Of course, I'm probably closer to Dyson than Shermer, on the basis of this article.]

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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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