Saturday, April 30, 2005 

Is this true?

I've never heard of the site this story is at, but the story is so terrifying (Repuclicans re-writing proposed Democratic amendments to bills to make it seem like the Democrats were trying to help sexual predators) it needs to be verified, and now. I found it here, and Parsons mentions not even something like Air America has been covering it.

They've got quotes from (real) members of Congress and the House of Representatives, and a photocopy of a page from the Congressional record.

I'm actually going to email Atrios about this, because I can't think of anyone else to ask.


Where was the "Beware of the Leopard" sign, though?

So. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. It was fun, you should see it.

As long as you accept going in that they've changed the story enough that they basically can't film the other books now. I enjoyed it immensely, but it definitely wasn't the adaption they probably should have done. I'm very conflicted.

Friday, April 29, 2005 

Got my marks back

85%, 86%, and 88%. The latter is for my Honours Research Thesis. I'm pretty happy.



Over at Stylus, there's a top ten by me, and the latest Singles Going Steady, but really, you need to download and hear William B. Swygart's first Stycast, because it is brilliant and funny and has some great tunes, too.

Thursday, April 28, 2005 

Utterly horrifying

[Incredibly foul expletive deleted]!

I guess you really can't go broke underestimating the intelligence of the public. Or of nerds.


It's the culture, stupid

Incredibly intriguing article here setting out a theory that claims that neither race nor racism accounts for many of the disparities between blacks and whites in (North?) America. It's a brief piece, almost a precis, so I'm not sure if Sowell is taking on too much for his theory, or what he thinks the ramifications are (read: if I find out more about this later and he winds up being crazy, I reserve the right to change my mind), but I would think it's worth investigating at the very least.


Pass over in silence

Urgent & key article here on Wittgenstein.


An epistemology of beauty

Why I still love Glenn McDonald's writing, post The War Against Silence:

There are three classes of the acted-upon and the acting: objects, creatures and artists. Objects have no value except as they benefit creatures or express the work of artists, and perform no act except in response. Creatures are to be respected and defended and delighted, and acknowledged in their free will, but not burdened with responsibility or solicited for decisions. Artists are the source of all authority and the ultimate ends of all means. Humans are sometimes artists but always at least creatures. Machines and systems and programs (and policies and corporations and governments and precepts, including these) are never more than objects. The first obligation of any designed system is to be obsessively devoted to the intricate cognizance of these boundaries.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005 


Serenity trailer. Fuckin' A.

Not even Kasabian can ruin it.


Faint hope

All of a sudden I feel good about the budget. The gist:

"Families will pay less for their kids' education. Workers will get better training. We'll reduce pollution. Build affordable housing."

Layton said that under the proposed agreement, small and medium-sized businesses will keep their tax cuts but tax rates for large corporations would remain.

"This budget isn't perfect. But it's better. And it's balanced, and it includes tax reductions for small business. But it also invests in people and our environment," Layton told reporters.

Layton said details were still being discussed between the two House leaders of the respective parties.

I wonder if it will pass.



Up already. Some day I'll sleep in/go to bed at a reasonable time. Here's this week's Stylus review. I was hoping he'd named himself Populous after the old computer game, but I found no evidence for that.


So late

New journal entry up, and I've got a thing on the side that takes you to my blogroll, as I'm belatedly using rss feeds now.

Monday, April 25, 2005 

Mysterious ways

So apparantly Benedict didn't want to be Pope. If that's sincere, I wonder if that means he won't be quite as strident as he would have been otherwise.



I've been incommunicado because on Saturday I was either in transit or partying, and yesterday I spent writing and overhauling my resume to apply for a job. I just dropped it off (I wanted to apply while it was still only posted internally), and I feel a whole lot less nervous. Wish me luck.


Don't be denied

The Stylus Non-Definitive Guide to the Follow-Up is up today, complete with two contributions from yours truly.

Friday, April 22, 2005 


If this is snark in literary criticism then snark on, I say.

Thursday, April 21, 2005 


Thorpe and Parsons' reign of Fashion SWAT terror continues. I swear this wouldn't be half as funny if things like The Manatca and Etro didn't become recurring characters.


Small world

Holy shit - I remember when Maurice Strong was just a sleazy vice president at Ontario Hydro - the unions were not fans, and when at a rally with my mom I recall seeing buttons with his cartoon face on them.


I like "Tombstone Blues" better, anyway

Excellent article at The Nation summing up a few recent Dylan books, including his own Chronicles and Greil Marcus' book on "Like A Rolling Stone".


So far

Just a few random things, four months into the year.

Best horn loop: Mike Jones feat. Slim Thug and Paul Wall - "Still Tippin'"
Jones himself kind of sucks, but Swishahouse gets absolutely everything he can out of one lonely, sickly horn stab and a screwed vocal sample. Slim Thug is pretty awesome too, especially in the clean edit where all the gaps make the track even more disoriented. And Paul Wall is like an ant - he's low to the ground. I gave this a seven on Stylus, but I may have undervalued it.

Best "oh oh oh"s: Of Montreal - "So Begins Our Alabee"
The video is the kind of twee Elephant 6 shit I hate, but the song is pretty good. And those backing vocals during the chorus are kind of Byrne-ish, and I love them to distraction. I hear the album is kind of good, too.

Best utility player: Akon
If you told me when I was first hearing "Locked Up" that this guy would make two more singles that have slowly gotten under my skin, I would have called you a goddamn liar and asked you who you were anyway. "Lonely"'s good, but something about the vocals in "Ghetto" just gets to me. And his guest spot on Baby Bash's last single was good too.

Worst comeback: Weezer
Seriously, the rest of the album might be pure gold, but "Beverly Hills" is like Rivers just walked into my apartment and stabbed me. But somewhere non-vital, the arm or something. Yes, because we wanted you to be more neurotic. Stop him before he emos again.

Best unexpected tugging of heartstrings: Bright Eyes, "First Day Of My Life"
I've said it before, I'm saying it again. Still no desire to listen to the record.

Best reason to send threatening letters to Domino Records: The video to Clinic's "Distortions" is no longer online. I love that fucking video.



But out there the world is a beautiful place
With mountains, lakes and the human race
This is where I wanna be
And this is what I wanna do

You know what? Fuck you if you think it's cheesy. I haven't heard the new New Order yet, and it might not all be as good as this (hey, Get Ready wasn't as good as "Crystal" and Republic isn't as good as "Regret", but I still like both), but I love this song. I captures the feeling of something so heart-rendingly precisely, although I don't know if I could name the feeling.

Dumb-ass song title, though.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 

What the new pope means

I may disagree with Andrew Sullivan about lots of things, but start here and read up at least until the post titled "The Church Never Changes?" (an excellent rebuke to those who claim we shouldn't be surprised by Ratzinger). I feel for the guy, and he offers some excellent intellectual and emotional analysis.


Get off the couch

Interesting story on obesity at CNN: people who are modestly overweight actually have a lower risk of death than those of normal weight. I'd wager that the reason for this is that people being defined as of "normal" weight actually includes many for whom their normal weight is more than they actually weigh, and as Paul Campos could tell you, 'artificially' losing weight is far more hazardous to your health than simply eating right, exercising appropriately, and not obsessing about losing that last 10 pounds:

"The new analysis found that obesity -- being extremely overweight -- is indisputably lethal. But like several recent smaller studies, it found that people who are modestly overweight have a lower risk of death than those of normal weight.

Biostatistician Mary Grace Kovar, a consultant for the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center in Washington, said 'normal' may be set too low for today's population."

No way. You mean North America has embraced an unhealthy, unrealistic body image?

If you're a big person (like me, which of course is why the issue bugs me so much) and you exercise regularly (I believe the minimum is 30 minutes of moderate activity a day) and eat well, you may lose weight if your previous habits were unhealthy. But after a while, that will stop. And if you try to keep losing weight, that's when you start lowering your life expectancy. Not everyone is naturally slim, and the sooner we come to grips with that (no, I don't think we'll see it in my lifetime), the happier we'll all be.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 

Fed up

(sorry about the pun)

So Parliment is grinding to a halt, eh? Have any other Canadians become so frustrated with the situation since the last election they want to just firebomb the building and start over?

Doesn't matter, next time I'll vote NDP, probably. Again.


He even looks a little evil

So, the Catholic Church has a new Pope. Good ol' Joseph Ratzinger. Woo. Hoo. The man was once a professor of "dogmatic theology" and among other things was the guy who said that Catholic politicians who are pro-choice should be denied communion. So another reactionary fuckhead, then. About the only thing I like about him is this line from his first speech:

"The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me."

I just think it's a good line, though, I doubt it reflects any genuine humility on the man's part.


Film at eleven

Radical activist in "being a crazy asshole" shocker.



This is the sort of thing we need to see more of. Assuming, of course, the kids actually do like playing on the roundabout (but everyone I know did way back when...).


A brief history of locking up priests

The BBC has an interesting piece on papal conclaves through the ages.


So tired

Journal entry up. Prose, no less.

Monday, April 18, 2005 

I need a turntable

Apropos of nothing I took a quick browse through my modest vinyl collection, and there are a bunch of records in there I'd completely forgotten I own. I mean, "Heroes"? I own "Heroes" on vinyl? And Isn't Anything and Every Talking Heads album through Speaking In Tongues and the "Love Will Tear Us Apart" single, and (Who's Afraid Of) The Art Of Noise and the New Order Substance and and and

To say nothing of the records I don't remember buying - if you'd told me I owned The Lexicon Of Love and Arthur by the Kinks and After The Gold Rush and some old Tangerine Dream album I'd have thought you were joking. I want to hear them, don't get me wrong.

I think when I have some spare cash I should go browse through the record bins at Music In Orbit some more.


Book survey

Yoinked from Sarah Pedal.

1) You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451; which book do you want to burn?
The collected work of Ayn Rand.

2) Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
I'm sure I have, and I'm trying really hard to think of who it would have been. Probably Ce'Nedra from David and Leigh Eddings' Belgariad series was the biggest. What that says about my taste in women I plan to never, ever think about.

3) What are you currently reading?
Just today started in on Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay, which is pretty decent one chapter in. A friend who moved to BC left it behind.

4) The last book you bought was:
It's been depressingly long since I've bought any. I guess it was the secondhand hardcover of Eco's The Island Of The Day Before I found at Value Village for $4. Haven't read it yet.

5) The last book you read was:
The Illuminatus! trilogy, of which more when I have time. I'd say it's a must-read. Also Valediction by Robert B. Parker, as I slowly work my way through the Spenser books via Aaron.

6) Five books you would take to a desert island:
Single volumes only, in no order, and obviously pretty fragmentary:

Baruch Spinoza - Ethic
Gene Wolfe - The Fifth Head Of Cerebus
Thomas Pynchon - V
Philip K. Dick - The Valis Trilogy
Anthony Lane - Nobody's Perfect

I love all five, but obviously I'm going to try to take big, thought provoking works to occupy me for as long as possible.

7) Who are you going to pass this stick to, and why?
Everyone, hopefully, although I'd be particularly interested in reading both Bens answers, as well as K's.


Down by the river

My review of 69corp's debut album is up at Stylus.


The rule of fives

[Editorial note: Blogger futzed up when I tried to post this, but for the first time their "recover post" button was active. Which saved a minute or two and enough aggravation to make me break things. Instead, I'm so happy about it I feel compelled to mention it, since I do tend to slam Blogger when their site goes down... Good on them.]

Between the aforementioned Music For Airports and Talking Heads' Fear Of Music (at the gym) and Elvis Costello's Armed Forces (right now), all the music I've listened to today was released in 1978-9.

Of course, next up is Magnolia Electric Co's What Comes After The Blues, as I didn't bring any other old albums. I kind of wish I had now.


A second renaissance?

Scholars have finally managed to decode a treasury of "central texts which scholars have been speculating about for centuries", including work by Hesiod, Sophocles, Euripides and possible lost Christian Gospels. Wow.



So the night before my 8:30 exam, I would have trouble getting to sleep, wouldn't I? I think I managed about 2 hours. And now I'm working until 9:45!

All that's getting me through the day is Lime Coke and Brian Eno's Music For Airports.

Sunday, April 17, 2005 

Well, we're fucked

"Conservatives widening lead, polls say."

I'm not trying to downplay the importance of scandal and corruption, as it looks more and more as like the Liberals should not be ruling Canada. But do these people who are switching really believe the Conservatives will be better? Sure, kiss human rights goodbye, same with education and health and so on and so forth. At least they won't be so obviously corrupt.

Friday, April 15, 2005 

I probably won't do this every month

So I joined in at the International Mixtape Project (as far as I can tell, it doesn't have its own website), and I'm just finishing off my first mix for it, to be sent to some poor unsuspecting soul down in San Francisco. I love the idea of exposing others to my (lack of) taste. Of course, I'm finishing it now because my copy for the month showed up in the mail today.

And for the first month, this is what I've got:

01. Green Milk From Planet Orange – “Sweet 5AM (Excerpt)” (5:30)
02. Sweet Billy Pilgrim – “Atlantis” (3:32)
03. Creeper Lagoon – “Chance Of A Lifetime” (3:45)
04. Pink Grease – “Peaches” (3:25)
05. The Sycamores – “Tired Of Always Thinking Of Lies” (3:42)
06. Pipedream – “Deeper Arcades” (6:14)
07. Radiohead – “Fog” (4:02)
08. Minotaur Shock – “Motoring Britain” (6:15)
09. Black Box Recorder – “French Rock’N’Roll” (3:01)
10. The Hives – “Hail Hail Spit N’ Drool” (1:26)
11. Superchunk – “100,000 Fireflies” (3:17)
12. Hefner – “Eloping” (5:28)
13. Loop – “Shot With A Diamond” (5:16)
14. Rival Schools – “Travel By Telephone” (2:47)
15. Low – “Shots & Ladders 2” (6:47)
16. Readymade – “Hengshan Reeling” (5:23)

Total: 69:50


Follow up

Another article on that new Oppenheimer biography, with a lot more context on him and Edward Teller.


Way to undercut your own government

A while back I posted a link about proposed changes to how we cross the Canada/U.S. border. Well, it turns out that we knew about this before Bush did.

My favorite part of the article is definitely "The White House didn't say why the president was unaware of the plans, which were announced by his administration on April 5."

Thursday, April 14, 2005 

I've fooled you all!

Mwa ha ha.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005 


To all those who didn't believe me about the vegetarian haggis samosas: I told you so.

And while on the subject of K's photos, she really should mention that I'm the one who took this one.


Remember to remember

My review of the so-so new Radar Bros album is up at Stylus.



I'm not at all surprised that the best, fairest piece I've yet to read on Andrea Dworkin's death comes from someone like Susie Bright. I'm no fan of some of the conclusions Dworkin and Catherine McKinnon drew, but Dworkin's real contributions are often taken and distorted by the right without any appreciation for their real force and insight.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005 

Brevity etc.

Bill C-38 has survived Stephen Harper's asinine plan to scrap it and replace it with a bill that "defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others". Or, more concisely, the bigots can suck it.



Excellent review of a new biography of Oppenheimer here.


It was late

New journal entry went up last night.

Monday, April 11, 2005 

They took her away, away from me

Fletcher of NN2S tells it like it is.


How'd I miss this?

The use of underage, undernourished jockeys in the traditional camel races of the United Arab Emirates is shame. But the fact that they're being replaced by robots? That's just cool.

And yet it took Brian from 8-Bit Theatre to bring this to my attention.


I drank lots of beer and saw Sin City

The Fuck Off Friday posts aren't really angry or anything, but I was having a good weekend, honest. Except the sunburn. I'll write up a journal entry tonight, but for just... uh... look over here. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Saturday, April 09, 2005 

Fuck other people

While digging in the ol' quote file for a particular reference, I stumbled again upon what might be my favorite quotation ever, by H. L. Mencken:

"There comes a time when every man feels the urge to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and start slitting throats."


Fuck Spin

While out today with K I picked up the new Spin to have something to read while recovering from all the beer I drank while getting a few sunburns this afternoon. I buy it every so often when I'm bored.

Man, I didn't remember it sucking so much. You want an idea of the state of rockism in North America? Go read Spin's letter pages and most (although not all) of its editorial copy. Gah.

Friday, April 08, 2005 

And yes...

Just in case you were wondering, it is indeed Fuck Off Friday.


Fuck the pope

I wonder if any major North American paper would have the guts to print this sort of thing.


Fuck you, night

So I awake from a three-hour drunken nap and stagger to the computer after brushing my mouth because the sour tang of beer will not leave it and I see I have something in my inbox from the Delgados' mailing list titled simply "Press Release" and I know what is coming before I even open it.

The Delgados are no more. And I only got to see them twice.



Fuck you, morning

It's way too early, but let's ignore that for the moment: This week's Singles Going Steady is up, and William B. Swygart, at the beginning of the best top 10 ever, quotes me.

Thursday, April 07, 2005 

School spirit

There are definitely some things I won't miss about this place.

And no, I don't want to be any more specific than that.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005 

At least the dark don't hide it

Josh Love offers a probably definitive take on the new Magnolia Electric Co disc, summing up both the album (which I'm reviewing for the Ontarion) and Molina's career to date with stunning (seeming) ease. What a great piece of writing.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005 

Why did this never happen?

So here at work an older song by the Backstreet Boys called "More Than That" comes on the radio. But all three of us in Tracing can't quite make out of the chorus vocals, and I'd swear they were singing "I'll love you more than death". And there is sort of a despairing echoey quaver in the Boys' voices.

Which brings to mind the utterly urgent and key question: Why has there never been a Goth boyband? Or are the Japanese ahead of us in the great insane race that is Progress in Pop?

I mean, yes, in the wider world they'd sell roughly nothing, but I'd love to see it nonetheless. Especially done well, no tongues in cheek.


The power of repetition in humour

(Stolen from Jer at I'm Huge)

This is a powerful example of the power of repetition in humour. It shows how slight variations in the same thing can be funny.

Also, some of those deaths are just plain baroque. Terrific series of gags.


I rock a law suit when I'm going to court

Anthony would no doubt be glad to hear Good Charlotte's "I Just Wanna Live" is in heavy rotation up here on the station we listen to at work. It's really grown on me, and I completely recant anything bad I've ever said about it.


Our wacky neighbours

On the one hand, we will apparantly need our passports to visit the States in a few years. But on the other, it's going to be legal (in Florida at least) to defend your property with deadly force, so at least when we do visit we'll be safe.


Wow dept.

It looks like it's possible - not proven, not certain, but possible - that there's a link between a common bacteria and neurological disease. Not necessarily a causal link, but still, anything that possibly leads to less Alzheimer's disease is fine by me.



Today up at Stylus there's not only my On First Listen on Modest Mouse, but also my review of Kirsty MacColl's wonderful Titanic Days.



New journal entry up.

Monday, April 04, 2005 

Clark for 08

Marc Cooper justly and deftly skewers George Lakoff's ridiculous little book - it's patronizing, ultimately consequenceless shit like this that makes me more and more disillusioned with the left wing every year. Surely there must be a middle ground between the radicals and the ones for whom "the left is people in sympathy with the downtrodden, not the downtrodden themselves. It is a charity operation."



My lack of posting over the last two days was, uh, because the Pope died. Not because I was busy lazing around all weekend.


At it again

Michael Shermer takes on "intelligent design" theories, which is fairly standard for the guy who founded Skeptic magazine. But what I really like is how, in the last paragraph, he points out how ID fails religion as well as science.

Friday, April 01, 2005 

Narcissism, I guess

The British Ben's got an excellent, long post up with various record reviews. I had some comments to leave for him, but they wound up being lengthy enough and with enough content I wanted to pop them up here too.


I'm a little hurt that the only two reviews from Stylus that you didn't link at the end there were by me (Low and 6by7).

No, not really.

A bunch of good stuff in this post, although yr links are fucked:

Have you read much about the circumstances surrounding the creation of The Great Destroyer? Alan apparantly had a bit of a breakdown that had been fairly long in coming, but is much better now. He mentioned in an interview I read that Trust (which I love) and much of their older stuff is the sound of certainty and this is the sound of doubt and openness, or something similar. Which, given the focus on mortality and change and etc. and the lack of mentions of religion (the few possible references I can spot are pretty stingingly sarcastic), is pretty interesting.

Also that they started so slow and quiet almost as a joke, and at this point they're pretty sick and tired of living up to people's expectations. Still great live, and TGD is my second favorite of the year thus far (and most years it'd be #1 easy).

The Delgados album I find fascinating partly because on the last record Alun was the glum one ("All You Need Is Hate", "Child Killers", "The Drowning Years" etc) and Emma at least offered some hope ("The Light Before We Land", especially). But this time it's reversed; except for "Keep On Breathing" Emma is notably negative even when the songs are cheery.

"Sink Or Swim" poses the question the album revolves around, and it's not until "Keep On Breathing" that she responds with a yes. ("Happiness that we have to live through" to me is not joy posited as something to be endured so much as something that is inexorably temporal, and thus we have to live through it, we are not allowed to linger). And of course Alun's "Now And Forever" ("If we fail we won't fall") is a closing valediction. All of Alun's other songs, though, are overwhelmingly positive (except for "Bits Of Bone", which is gibberish and thus neither), especially "Get Action!", which might be my favorite song on the album.

I talked to Alun around the time of Hate, and although I didn't pry, he did confirm that the lyrical content at the time corresponded with some shit that was happening in real life (and given that "The Drowning Years" is about a woman with terminal illness killing herself, that shit was probably pretty heavy). I was pleased and surprised to hear him doing so well, above and beyond my genuine pre-analytical love for that album.

Sorry about that.

I haven't heard the new Idlewild yet, but their last one was a bit of a disappointment to me (although my girlfriend loves it), and this review coupled with Nick Southall's has me determined not to buy it. Which is a real pity, as circa 100 Broken Windows they had real potential.

And last but not least, I respectfully disagree with you about the Six By Seven album - it's my favorite album of theirs since the debut, and I think the drawn out end of "Leave Me Alone" has to be understood in the context of "Spy Song" and "European Me" and "Oh! Dear". And maybe you don't like them either, but I did. I also liked the middle bits more than you did, but you'd probably get more of a kick out of the "leftovers" album they're selling out of the website (Left Luggage At The Peveril Hotel), it's not quite as samey.

I am still a big fan in any case - I was pretty immaturely thrilled when reading about Bloc Party in some newspaper story posted online to find that Kele was wearing one of their shirts."


April Fools

So, yeah, I guess we're all supposed to lie incessantly today or something. Hey, later today I'll be interviewing people with the rest of the hiring committee for the Ontarion, maybe we could pretend they got the job! That'd be awesome!

I fucking hate April Fools.

(Although I haven't fallen for anything today yet, and last year I saw through Gord's extremely well-executed prank - I guess I just hate the need to be wary all day)

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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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