Wednesday, November 30, 2005 


So the ever-lovable Clinic have a new website, and a new album next year. I'm practically tingling with anticipation.

Even cooler, in the new "archive" section of the site they link a review of the very show I saw, which was one of the best I've seen. Not only were Clinic absolutely on form, but both opening acts (Sons And Daughters and especially Midnight Movies) were incredible live.

If you do go by the site, be sure to check out the "Manifesto", also in the archive. I believe them when they say "D.P." doesn't stand for anything, but I happen to know that "W.D.Y.Y.B." does stand for something (thanks to Brian, their bassist).

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 

We were all in love and we all got hurt

Just to correct Anthony slightly about "White Houses" - I also love it, and have since I downloaded it (probably from Abby). The only reason it wasn't in my top twenty singles was because I forgot about it (or rather forgot it came out this year - that brings my tally to around five singles I missed!). It is absolutely worth a download through the post he mentions, which is (I should add) very well written.

I'm not sure I follow him on ignoring the production, though. What's wrong with it?

("White Houses" also has one of my favourite lines of all time, which you can probably guess)



So the Village Voice has linked to my Seconds on Life Without Buildings' "Juno" (go to their site, scroll down to "Blog Rock", there I am - for now). Which is flattering, but also thankfully is about probably my favourite of everything I've had up at Stylus this year.


I feel ill

I'm with Fred over at Slacktivist; the post here is a perfectly wrought, if not a little disgusting, combination of photos and text excoriating one particular expression of (extremely) conspicuous consumption. Never before have I so wanted to live in an apartment, a modest, ecologically friendly apartment, for the rest of my life.


Mirrors and duels

I've been enjoying Borges' Labyrinths so much that when I was at the Bookshelf tonight I picked up his Collected Fictions, which has everything Labyrinths has plus... well, everything else, I suppose.

I love that he never wrote novels. I read "The Secret Miracle" as a child (I have no idea where I found it), and I love that even now it retains the vivacity and force of a waking dream. Borges' fictions are perfect for reading over and over, both because of their brevity and for the way they focus the mind on the powerfully unreal. As you get to know the fictions they only seem more inevitable, more obvious. In a lesser writer the experience of reading them all piled up together would be draining on your suspended disbelief but for Borges all those un-sudden twists at the end merely reinforce his themes, his images and his philosophy. The world seems more real when you're done reading Borges, but it also seems different.

And I love that he's so quotable. Here's a recent favourite, from "The Wall And The Books":

Music, states of happiness, mythology, faces belabored by time, certain twilights and certain times try to tell us something, or have said something we should not have missed, or are about to say something; this immanence of a revelation which does not occur is, perhaps, the aesthetic phenomenon.

Monday, November 28, 2005 


The "fall finale" of Prison Break was brutal, but mostly just because I'd been told it was two hours. It was, I suppose - they re-ran last week's episode at 8. It ends on a couple of excruciating cliffhangers, and I thought they were going to be resolved, worse luck.

On the ads I saw a preview for Aeon Flux (which I had thought was pronounced "A-on", not "E-on", as "Mae" sounds like "may", not "me"). It looks like complete nonsense, just like the original show, but gorgeously shot nonsense. If they privilege form over content enough, I just may be interested in seeing that one.

(They also showed a preview for the new King Kong, but that only suggests that Peter Jackson continues to privilege form over content in a different, totally unappealing way - I'd love to be proved wrong, but I don't think I'm willing to drop $10 to do so)



Both Rachel and Arts & Letters Daily pointed today to the same review of a biography of Kafka that sounds really excellent. I should head by the library soon.


No names, no details

Jessica Hopper correctly points out how sexist emo is. It's pretty obvious, but shamefully I've been neglecting to think/write about it in, say, the singles jukebox. That's probably (hopefully?) because I spend so much time being infuriated by how codependant all of those songs are that I didn't stop to think about gender.



So I ordered, among other things, Arab Strap's Elephant Shoe from Amazon last night. And apparently it was just in time, because even though I'm ostensibly listening to something else right now (the new Remote Viewer disc), I can't get "Cherubs" out of my head.

Sunday, November 27, 2005 

You don't realise how much you've missed it until it's back

Marcello Carlin on Rachel Stevens, Charlotte Church, Madonna, female British singers and a host of others things. It's so nice to have that huge-but-not-offputting intellect back in (public) service, tracing out historical connections, castigating the castigatable and expressing proper outrage at the venality of the music business.

Saturday, November 26, 2005 

Put down like a dog

Posted at the request of a friend; whatever you want to say about their choice of subject matter, this rating system for mass killings seems well thought out.

Friday, November 25, 2005 

Nautical disaster

There's a good article over at the CBC on the Tragically Hip that does a fair job of summing up some of the paradoxes of their popularity. For a band that's such a bit part of the pop culture landscape (at least in Ontario), they're actually really weird when you think about it. And Day For Night is massively, massively underrated by everyone except the fans.

Thursday, November 24, 2005 

Dr. David Thorpe vs. Hipsters

Everyone's favourite music satirist (read: satirist about music, not satirist using the medium of music) takes on the knotty and complex Hipster taxonomy. Especially worth it for page two, the "Drawbacks of Friendship" for the Indie Fans type, which gave me a moment of "hey, I know assholes like that.



Interesting article over at The Boston Globe on science fiction as utopian, not in terms of describing perfection but in terms of describing what perfection isn't.


Slight return

Do you care about music? Are you reading the apparantly back-to-life Church Of Me? Why not? Marcello Carlin is an amazing writer.

Also, from the comments at New York London Paris Munich, a "Tommy Mack" puts into words part of why I'm not a big fan of a certain band:

The depth and detail in much pop music gets overlooked coz people are too busy enjoying it, whereas people can twaddle on about the cleverness of boring guff like Sonic Youth till the cows come home because there's nothing to get in the way of the details, like fun or energy or a tune...


W.T.F. Dept.

Seriously, what the hell? I think my favourite is either the one where Batman is also Adam (in the Garden of Eden, naturally) or the one where the Metal Men are a guillotine in Revolutionary France.



This makes so much sense, and not just because it puts a slightly complimentary spin on my customary inability to remember stuff. From the article:

A study in the Nature journal says that being able to remember objects is more to do with focusing on relevant facts than having a large memory capacity. The researchers say that this ability to focus leaves more brain space to memorise pertinent information.

There are times, when four people are trying to tell me things at once and my brain is trying to focus on all four at once, when I could swear I can feel myself forgetting things. At least I'll have some sort of idea what to do next time this happens.

It also explains why I can remember so much trivia, despite being forgetful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005 


My contributions to it are about the last reason why you should read the group roundup of the Ukrainian Top Ten over at Umlauts, but you should read it. Especially for the MP3 at the end, which gives you an idea of what foreign pop music sounds like.


My lips are sealed

I've got a Seconds piece on Life Without Buildings' "Juno" up today, complete with the ability to download the song so you can tell for yourself whether I'm full of shit.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 

The inevitable and useless "I'm sorry for your loss"

Singer/guitarist Chris Whitley has died of lung cancer. I posted about it at Stylus.


Busy busy busy

No time to post from work today, but my review for the new Ok Go record is up. I honestly don't get the vehemence behind the hate directed at these guys sometimes.

Monday, November 21, 2005 


The strangest thing I've learned about myself thanks to my current job is that it turns out I really enjoy crunching numbers.

I don't think I would if that was all I had to do, but I just spent the afternoon with a shedload of statistics, doing the semesterly employee evaluations (as well as nursing a 1362 page print job to completion, but that's boring), and as I was warming up my lunch I realised I was in an unusually good mood, and was in fact having fun. So much fun I may not take a full hour for lunch.



I got confused since we switched spots with the UK version, but today also sees this week's edition of Singles Going Steady. David Drake and I are apparently the only ones who hate Carrie Underwood, which is just a shame.


A quick turnaround

Two things by me up at Stylus today, both of which I only submitted last night (the sign of a good editor, folks): the 13th edition of A Touching Display, and a Playing God article on Constantines' Shine A Light.

Friday, November 18, 2005 

Cover me

I temporarily switch continents to join the UK Singles Jukebox in their b-side extravaganza.


Turn my way

On a lighter (as opposed to heavier, not darker) note, New Order's Get Ready may not be their most lauded effort, but it is the one that tends to produce the most singing along in me. As my coworkers could attest. Their best record as a "rock band", whatever that means, as Power Corruption And Lies was their best as post-punks and Republic is their best as electro-pop.

(Substance is quite obviously their best record as New Order)


I believe in everything

Mike has a follow up to his post that I liked so much (see the post below with "Gertrude Stein" in the title). He's getting into some pretty heady stuff, aesthetics and phenomenology and all that; or at least that's where my heads follows all of this stuff into. I posted a comment over there, but I think I accidentially articulated something underpinning a fair bit of what I write over here, so for posterity:

I have no idea who Andi is, but I disagree with this:

"because it's not clear EXACTLY what is meant, EXACTLY how and where the music gurgles, and what is description if not some fairly precise measure of the world."

On a whole host of levels. Just for starters, I'll take the communication of sensation over literal description every single time, which is because of/tied in with/identical to the fact that even EXACT, precise measures of the world must transmit to us what a messy, foggy, UNprecise world it is that we're talking about. As long as our phenomenological accounts of the world as lived are messy, our writing should/must be a little messy too.

Although I'm not particularly committed to defending the specific phrase "Crampsian swamp-gurgle". I like it, but it's not what my viewpoint is standing or falling on, you know? To me that sort of language communicates something to me, maybe something ineffable but definitely something wordless, and (to me) that's a thousand times better than precise description.

All really good music writing, to me, should cause at least a mild tinge of synesthesia in the reader, if they're receptive to it.

My point right after the quotation within the quotation is, I suppose that I both prefer the communication of sensation over strict literal sense and I also think that it some ways it is often more honest. Not that I'm not a fan of precise writing, all clean lines and a certain kind of grace; that can be great too. But when the writer tries visibly (or audibly, or however else you prefer to conceptualize your reading experience) to stretch beyond the literal constraints of our half-shared language to express something that goes outside of it, I'm a lot more appreciative, especially when it really works; those are the moments when you stop reading like you've just slammed into a brick wall because someone else has just written your own life back at you, and that sudden moment of doppleganger-paralysis is one of literature's trickiest powers.

Note that I'm not claiming I've ever achieved that effect myself - I've certainly tried at times, and even thought that maybe I succeeded, but the next time you read your own writing everything have changed, maybe precisely because the work hasn't.

Or, to be brief for once, you could put it this way (from an email I got today):

"Science has the answers, and maybe it will someday have all the answers. But life isn't always about truth. Life is about adventure and mystery and magic and excitement."

I don't think that's merely true in the sort of poetic, "art makes our lives better" kind of way, although that's valid as well. I think it's true in the fact that our lives as experienced (not necessarily as analyzed) aren't always about truth and facts. Those are discovered afterwards, not lived through.


Motion blurs

In the car on the way home from watching Cannibal Holocaust, I saw my first shooting star.

Also, and this may say something unkind about my attention span, everything looks better through the window of a speeding car/bus/train. Especially trains.

Thursday, November 17, 2005 

Count your blessings

I may often only get 6 or 7 hours of sleep, but at least I'm not "lucky" to get 5 a night. I think I'd be fired rather quickly at that point, as my brain wouldn't work.



The mail system in Montreal has gone all to shit. Unfortunately/fortunately it's much smaller scale than Jack's post made me think it might be - obviously the bigger factor is that it's good people were getting their mail, but the idea appeals to me.



New lemurs found in Madagascar; the one they have a picture of is awfully cute. It's kind of neat what nature throws up when you've got an island isolated from the rest of the world.


Thought for the night

We would all like to imagine that we haunt the dreams of others as they haunt ours.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 

Slept on

You know what's a good, overlooked record? Ben Kweller's Sha Sha, dumbass cover art and all. Every single song is great, and I long for the day when I can again make a mix that "Falling" would be appropriate for.

[Edit: Also, dude is only about two months older than I am. Way to make me feel unaccomplished, Kweller.]


The dream is sweeter than the taste

I've never read any of Seth's work, but the interview the Onion AV Club has with him this week is good stuff nonetheless. The part that really struck me is short enough to excerpt in full:

AV Club: Along those same lines, the sections in Wimbledon Green having to do with the hero's favorite old comic, Fine & Dandy, have kind of a tenuous connection—in spirit, at least—to Kurt Busiek's Astro City.

Seth: That would be a complete coincidence. [Laughs.] I've never read any of it. Tell me why.

AVC: Busiek sets his Astro City stories on the fringes of old superhero stories. He's referencing big DC and Marvel story arcs, and adjusting the details so that they're part of his invented world. But he's not telling those old stories, he's just mentioning them in passing, which makes them more compelling. Sort of like how the idea of Jack Kirby is more romantic than actually sitting down and reading a bunch of old Jack Kirby comics.

S: I think I see what you mean.

AVC: When you describe the contents of those Fine & Dandy comics in
Wimbledon Green, you make them sound much more magical and fun than they might be if they really existed.

S: Well, part of me was thinking of John Stanley when I was writing that section.

Little Lulu?

S: Yeah, which is one of the few things of that sort that I think does kind of stand up. But I do understand what you mean. I think it's because of our childhood connection to comic books. Like Jack Kirby, for example. You're right, the work doesn't stand up to reading as an adult, but if you read it at the right age, it was profound. And that feeling lingers, even though you can't return to it any more.

I find that an interesting experience with a lot of those great old comics, that they were great at a certain age, but they operate more as metaphors in your later life. Reading Osamu Tezuka's
Phoenix is one of those experiences where I think, like, "Oh, if only I'd had this book when I was 14." Because even though I enjoy it, it's not the enjoyment that I could be getting out of it. There's like a profundity to it that would be the perfect profundity for a 14-year-old. It's just sort of an enjoyable experience for a 40-year-old. I think that's one of the great appeals of comics for me, when I think of them, to remember that experience. I tried to capture a bit of that in Wimbledon Green, of just how profound and meaningful these comic books can seem.

I think the point here extends to other media as well, of course.


I almost forgot

It's weird that I could have the best single of the year just kind of slip my mind (and that probably has something to do with it being released much earlier than most of what I've been listening to recently), but Robyn, Three 6 and Sweet Billy P. are just going to have to back up - the Futureheads' "Hounds Of Love" will not be denied. That song still makes me happier than just about anything else I've heard.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 

The world of magic

The New Yorker has an excellent article about C.S. Lewis up, one that's not hesitant to point out where he was lacking as a writer but that ultimately sums up why he was so good.


And Gertrude Stein said, "that's enough"

This sort of thing is why I like Mike Powell('s writing) so much; there are at least two absolutely killer quotations to be taken from it, and by "absolutely killer" I mean they apply to myself as well:

I'm not into not making sense. I'm into making sense, even if it's non-traditional sense.*

There's a line between poetry, which often "makes sense" by building new models of sense, by locating sense within feeling or blurring the boundaries between the two, and the dreaded JARGON, which thwarts our understanding.

The whole post is just as deserving of love, though, he makes some excellent points about a whole bunch of related issues I've been thinking a lot about recently.

*(this reminds me of a pretty good paper I wrote in Contemporary British and North American Philosophy a few years ago contra Carnap's contention that "Caesar is and." does not mean anything/is without sense)


Mop to the crotch!

Wondermark is a pretty funny strip-like thing. You should read it, especially since the archives have so much funny stuff in them, it's practically leaking out.


It's my blog

It's never come up, but I think I'll formally adopt ahistoricality's comments policy.

Note, however, that reserving the right to delete comments for X, Y or Z doesn't not equal always deleting comments for X, Y or Z.

And of course, as I said it's yet to come up and I doubt it ever will. But it's always good to be prepared.

Monday, November 14, 2005 

Not just semantics

Orac has an excellent post that goes from a specific news story in the UK about herbal remedies being full of dangerous prescription drugs to a more general point that I think is pretty important:

Remember this as well: If a supplement, herbal remedy, or other treatment has any real effect on your body, it is acting as a drug, and all drugs have side effects. For all drugs, it is a question of risk versus benefit, whether the benefits of the drug outweigh its side effect profile and risks.


Busy day

So today we have another Stycast by me, and not one but two articles I contributed to: this week's Singles Going Steady and also a rather wonderful Non-Definitive Guide To The B-Side that I somehow managed to sneak into and write six entries.



The International Mix Tapes Project listing for November has a new home (linked at the side as well, as always); I've got that space, might as well use it for something.

Sunday, November 13, 2005 

Long delayed

A while back Stylus had an ELO Week, which was good fun (and naturally enough, some of the response was hilarious), and we had planned to do an all-ELO Jukebox. Sadly not enough people responded, and I meant to throw my responses up here, which I will now, I guess.

10538 Overture
Horrible title, but really nice cellos(?) that aren't nearly as clean and shiny as I would have thought. The result is to actually inject a little grit into the song – even Lynne's vocals sound a bit rougher. It's really all about those strings, though, and the french horn that comes in later. I imagine Lynne is babbling about something portentous and science fiction-y from the title, but everything else drowns him out.

Calling America
I didn't realise until I heard this how much ELO (and I guess the Cars, too) predate modern twee-ish electronic pop. I could absolutely believe this was from Phoenix or someone if the vocals were different. The cute little phone noises are a hoot, but the whole “America = the modern world” thing makes me grit my teeth, the satellite thing is cheesy, and the chorus just barely falls on the wrong side of the sugar line for me.

Don't Bring Me Down
The whole “don't bring me down, Bruuuuuuuce!” thing is so awesome, orders of magnitude more so than the rest of the song, that I just wind up sitting through the rest of it, and after enough time the maximalist layering of the rest of the song grows on me. Great steam-piston drums, and anytime Lynne sounds more like the Bee Gees than himself vocally is a good time.

Evil Woman
I don't think I even have an opinion on this song. I don't think anybody does, anymore. It gets played so much on classic rock radio and the like, and I've heard it so many times, that it's beyond like or dislike. It's just one of those songs that, if we were reducing the modern corpus to archetypes, I'm pretty sure would remain. I'm also pretty sure I could listen to it for twelve hours or so without feeling any differently about it.

Hold On Tight
On their best songs, ELO's wall of sound schtick is a very real part of the appeal, but on the lesser tracks it becomes wearying. The only fun part of “Hold On Tight” is when they do a verse in French. Other than that, this is good-timey ELO by the numbers, not horrible but not really good either.

Ma-Ma-Ma Belle
I swear to God, I thought they were going to start playing “Hot Blooded” when this began. Even though this is a couple of albums on from “10538 Overture”, it's got a very similar feel, very stompy and distorted (for this band, anyway) with similarly rough strings. Broken Social Scene's “Almost Crimes” owes a bit of a debt to the chorus, to boot. And it's cute when Lynne tries to be all tough. Points off for reminding me of Foreigner.

Mr. Blue Sky
This is a pretty great song, but I'm tainted – once I'd heard the Delgados prettily unadorned live version all the silly voices and production tricks here feel like too many cooks spoiling the proverbial meal. And five minutes really is a bit much.

Rock And Roll Is King
Lynne tries to do some Elvis right at the beginning, incredibly inane lyrics, the attempted canonization of your own work, enough rockism to choke a horse – this whole thing makes me wince. The only slightly redeeming bits are the production on the “rama-lama-lama-lama” bits and that wacky middle eight.

Another deeply silly song, this one about Lynne showing some opera singer how to “rock and roll”. Whether this the best use of an opera singer or not doesn't seem to cross his mind, and in fact those bits of the song don't really work. He's going for concept over sound, it seems, and predictably enough that doesn't work either. All you're left with is the cultural chauvinism which assumes that storming the opera house and making them play “the blues” instead is an unambiguous good.

Ooh, forboding. Muted clavinet in the background, nice strings, some doggerel about flying in on the South Wind and it's raining all over the world; Lynne really needs to stick to this sort of thing, where the sawing of the violins provide most of the stomp and his rock band kind of grinds away behind them. It's one of the better uses of his falsetto, to boot; why wasn't this a hit? By the end he's managed to turn all that pathetically fallacious rain into something genuinely compelling.



I'm sure Jane Fonda's biography is the kind of self-serving trash the reviews make it out to be, but this review by Rick Perlstein of a new book about her categorizes and dissects the issues around the whole "Hanoi Jane" thing in an incredibly effective way.


Shopping Bags

So Music In Orbit, my local small record store, is moving to Kitchener. I stopped by the moving sale to show my support one last time, and for $65 Canadian I got:

Gang Of Four - Entertainment! (Yes, the recent remastered/bonus-tracked one - might as well listen to it sooner rather than later. The only new CD I got.)
Lamb - Gorecki
Godflesh - Pure (It was cheap, I do love that Jesu album, and this one has Robert from Loop on it)
Felt - Absolute Classic Masterpieces Volume 2 (Single Tracks) (two disc set)

And on vinyl:

Frankie Goes To Hollywood - "Relax" 12"
Marianne Faithfull - Broken English
OMD - Dazzle Ships
Cocteau Twins - Tiny Dynamine/Echoes In A Shallow Bay Double EP

(If someone out there (Mike Powell?) is a fan of the Cocteaus and would like that Double EP for free, I'd be willing to send it over - I bought it out of curiosity/a preservationist instinct more than anything else, and also because it's a lovely object, and if a fan would get more out of it that's fine with me. Or in other words: Free to a good home)

Saturday, November 12, 2005 

There was a time before we were born

So I've just spent 9-6 in a small room in the MacDonald Stewart building, listening to a series of papers given at a conference in honour of Ken Dorter, one of my favourite profs, who is retiring. It was excellent. My reward? Enough free beer to get me drunk on an empty stomach and Ken's genuinely touching account of Plato's doctrine of recollection, one of the few philosophical theories that actually touches me emotionally (why? Part of the answer is in Talking Heads' "Once In A Lifetime" and especially "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)", especially the Stop Making Sense version).

Also, I think I may want to do a Master's. It would be on something relating to aesthetics and art criticism. I thought about it back when I was sober, and should probably sit down and think about it seriously tomorrow.

Friday, November 11, 2005 

Lest we forget

It's Remembrance Day. I'm sure you know what to do, and I hope you've all got poppies on your coats.



My self-image is surprisingly unaffected by whether others agree with me.

I have no problems admitting that is at least partially because if it was I'd probably be pretty miserable.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 

Batshit, I tell you

The public crazification of Pat Robertson continues.


Mash up

Office Space vs... The Super Friends. This made me laugh like a drain, which may something about my mental age; but Batman as Michael Bolton and Superman as Peter Gibbons are priceless.


I speak in smoke signals and you answer in code

Reasons people who run into me out in the world might not think as I'm friendly as, all else being equal, I am:

I'm hearing impaired. Oh, I can hear you fine if it's just you and me, but even low levels of background noise make it hard for me to pick out individual sounds, like voices. So if you were trying to get my attention, I may not have been ignoring you.

I tend to stare out the window on the bus. Especially in the morning, when I haven't been up for long and likely haven't had the full eight hours of sleep that I'd need to have to be alert. I have ridden the bus two or three seats down from friends and coworkers and not been aware of it until they tell me later. Again, I may not be ignoring you.

I (almost) never wear headphones unless I'm on a prolonged bus journey or on the stationary bike on the gym; I think it cuts off too much contact with the world and with people, and as you can see from the above I don't need any help with that. I am, however, probably listening to music. My mental stereo is nearly as distracting as my Discman, I assure you.

I am apparently scary/imposing looking. I am totally unaware of this, no matter how many times it is mentioned. Sorry. Also my regular blank, neutral facial expression is usually interpreted as dour, bleak whatever. People who know me can confirm my contention that this has nothing to do with my inner mental state.

When I'm thinking about whatever, I tend to zone out. This goes back to my reading habits as a young kid - my fifth grade teacher once tossed her shoe at me because she had been trying to get my attention for five minutes. I still get like that, although basic self-defence means that if I actually have a book in my hands I'm least trying to keep tabs on the world around me.

(title for this post taken from "Have To Explode", by the Mountain Goats - a song I've been increasingly obsessed with, especially on the mental radio, from an album I've been listening to almost as much; serendipitously enough, it's also one of the songs from my last Stycast)


Boundless and glacial

My review of Port-Royal's pretty cool debut Flares is up today


Preventative, not palliative

John Scalzi with an important reminder about voting; namely, why it's not only important to vote during "important" elections.


Weird tea

So after the gym (which is after work) I headed downtown to deposit the refund I had coming to me for my memory stick. I was originally told I wouldn't be getting it unless I mailed in some bullshit proof, and I didn't (too much hassle for $21) and it showed up anyways. So I popped by the bank and found out that Music In Orbit is moving... to Kitchener. Darn. I'll have to drop by their moving sale this weekend.

In any case, the nominal "point" of this entry is that I stopped by a place downtown to get some takeout sushi and shrimp tempura for dinner, and while I was waiting they very nicely gave me some warm tea to drink. It was good but strangely familiar, and after asking I discovered that it's a kind of tea made from roasted corn (or something). It was very nice, had almost a smoky flavour to it. I would recommend it. When I asked I was shown the bag it comes in, and it wasn't in nice tea bags or anything - it appeared to be actual roasted corn.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 


I'm in near-total disagreement with Anthony, for once; this year has been a tremendously exciting one for me, music-wise. If the year ended right now, I'd have serious trouble deciding what makes my top five for albums. And that's not even trying to listen to all the other albums I have sitting around/on my hard drive. Of course, out of all the albums he lists the only one that might show up in my top ten is Silent Alarm, so I think we may have had very different listening experiences this year. For some reason I've been listening to lots of instrumental and/or experimental stuff this year, which isn't particularly normal.


Running late

A lightning strike this morning took out my alarm, so I'm a bit hurried at work now, but if you'd like to hear my dulcet tones discussing music (and some damn fine songs) there's a new edition of my Stycast up today. If nothing else, download it and skip to the Mountain Goats and Sweet Billy Pilgrim tunes.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005 

Absence makes the heart

Nice little side bar-ish piece at the CBC on artistic hiatuses, prompted by the return of Kate Bush. But of they also include Pynchon.


The end of (athletic) history

So apparently it may not be very easy to set world records any more. We're reaching the limits of what humans can do without drugs or "fundamental changes to the genetic structure of human beings".

Of course, there's no reason why we always have to try to expand and improve (as in athletics, so as in population and economy), but I'm sure many will be taking this as bad news.


The gun of tomorrow, today

So the US government has phasers now. Or at least, PHASRs.


You're my fear

My On Second Thought of Whipping Boy's second album is up today.

Monday, November 07, 2005 


I haven't seen Canada's Worst Driver yet, and doubt I will, but it's nice to know Canadian reality TV shows are nicer, if a bit boring. How Canadian is that?

This does coincide with an unfortunate viewing of that "very special" home makeover show Anna made Ben watch last night after The Simpsons that, while it was doing a very good thing (giving a mother and her seven adopted, disabled kids a new, functional house, with no mortgage), did it in such a way that I had trouble watching it. So first we had reality TV, then we got really disturbing reality TV (I will never watch The Swan), and now we're on to Phase 3: schmaltzy reality TV.

I'm expecting/dreading snuff reality TV next, once the pendulum swings again.


Bad taste

Going to jail for illegally uploading movies is pretty bad. But going to jail for uploading Daredevil, Red Planet and Miss freakin' Congeniality? Chan Nai-Ming, you should be ashamed of yourself.


Game on?

So Layton has rejected Martin's offer, and we may well be headed to another election very soon. Note that Harper and Duceppe are both now too chicken to call a non-confidence vote, after getting spanked (narrowly) last time, and like all politicians try to turn that to their advantage by alleging that Layton should make the motion this time.

So what, they have to take turns or something? I don't care how shitty a PM Martin is or isn't (and let's remember, although the Liberals as a whole are corrupt, Gomery cleared Martin himself of any wrongdoing), Harper would be far, far worse. Especially if his government was part-composed of separatists.




(I'm not being sarcastic, I found the above quite hilarious)


Welcome to the working week

My review of the Boats' sophmore effort is up this morning, as is our weekly installment of Singles Going Steady.

Sunday, November 06, 2005 

Extremely odd

So Ben was flipping around TV and found one of the Stewart Little movies, wherein the kindly father is played by... Hugh Laurie.

I kept expecting him to be cruel and sarcastic, but he was just... nice. I mean, I know he's an actor and I know he's not who he plays, but seeing House being non-jerky was very jarring and amusing.



Silly String: It's not just for drunken parties anymore.

Saturday, November 05, 2005 

Time for another one

This one amused me mainly because I've never heard of this guy. Hey, if I'm going to be a dictator, might as well be a fairly benign one. Also note that I'm smart enough to know that a free, capable press is one of the biggest threats to my regime.

Gen. Than Shwe

You scored -6 Ego and 2 Ideology!

When Than Shwe (1933- ) became disgruntled with his postal work, he
left for the Psychological Warfare department of the Burmese army. In
1988, the government was overthrown by the amusingly-acronymed SLORC,
of which Shwe was a leading member, and he became President in 1992. He
renamed the country Myanmar, and oversaw a liberalization of the
nation's economy while simultaneously cracking down on the press.
Like Shwe, you'd rather not deal with parades, or the press, or any of
that fancy stuff. You've got a job to do, and you're willing to stay
out of the public eye to do so. But when somebody dares question your
vision, you'll make sure they pay for it.

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on Ego
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 65% on Ideology

Link: The Which Evil Dictator Are You? Test written by echopapa on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Friday, November 04, 2005 

Welcome to the suck

Well, that's two unfavourable reviews for the movie version of Jarhead I've read now. Which wouldn't worry me as much as it does except that both reviewers acknowledge the greatness of the book Jarhead, which is every bit as good and as gripping as they'd like you to think. I do love the trailer, but I'm wondering whether dropping $10 at the Galaxy is going to be worth it.



So here I am, scrabbling away at a dual review (my first) of the not-bad-but-not-great album by the Boats and the pretty special Flares by Italian post-somethingorothers Port-Royal. It's way too late, but I'm close to being done, so I hit "Save" again. It does, and I go to check something else - and my Mac freezes. I leave it for ten minutes, conscious of how crappy I'm already going to feel tomorrow morning, and it's still frozen. I can't even force quit.

So I turn my computer off, and then back on again. And the review? GONE. As if I'd never started it.

I am going to sleep now.

Thursday, November 03, 2005 

Incredibly creepy

So apparently in the second track on Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker" single (the one with the name that's a long formula, between "Windowlicker" and "Nannou"), there's a face. Not surprising, but the actual image is pretty disturbing - let's just say I'm glad I'm not about to try to go to sleep.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005 

I'm all swoony

It's a hallmark of how fucking fantastic this year has been for music that Sweet Billy Pilgrim's debut (which I've reviewed) isn't a shoe-in for my favourite record of the year. It's definitely top 5, though, and we'll see how high it gets.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005 

"Netiquette" is such a silly neologism

My blogroll, such as it is, is mostly over at Bloglines; I think I'll try to post here when I add something, since otherwise people might not know I'm linking to them. Case in point: Rachel's excellent A List of Lists, which I discovered because we have similar taste in book reviewers. I'm linked over there and I'd hate for her to think I'm not returning the favour.

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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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