Thursday, March 31, 2005 

Hypocrisy writ large

Given his record, hearing Bush say "The essence of civilisation is that the strong have a duty to protect the weak" makes me feel literally sick to my stomach. I agree with the sentiment, of course, but it'd be nice if he applied it in a general case (say, Social Security) rather than one inappropriate specific case.

Oh yes, and Terri Schiavo's body stopped working today. I'd say rest in peace, but the person she was has been dead for a decade and a half. I'm just glad the rest of her finally got some dignity.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 

In other "going to Hell" news

Oh, come on, it's funny.


Up Shit Creek w/out paddle

The most comprehensive survey ever into the state of the planet concludes that human activities threaten the Earth's ability to sustain future generations.

"This report is essentially an audit of nature's economy, and the audit shows we've driven most of the accounts into the red."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005 

Last one for the night

Just in case anyone was wondering why I say bad things about Randall Terry, whom the Schindlers hired to run their operation: Check out what he's said. A brief excerpt:

"I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good...Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism."

In other news, I'm going to Hell!


Personal reference

Just in case I want to refer back to this later, here's one of the neurolgists who examined Schiavo reaming some idiot in the media about, you know, the facts.


Expect delays

So blogger's been down most of the day, meaning all the stuff I was going to post this afternoon is going up now, if this works. First of all, there's a new journal entry up off to the side.

There's also a good, well, almost-interview with Anthony Lane up at the Telegraph today. Very entertaining and occasionally insighful.

Popstrology is an idea whose time has clearly come. I don't want to talk about my sign, but I will say I'm three days away from having "Jessie's Girl" as my song, dammit.

Bryan Berge is one of my favorite Stylus writers right now, and reviews like this are the reason why.

That's it for now, hope this works...


Long sigh of relief

Including footnotes, works cited page and so on (but not a title page), the first draft of my thesis is 21 pages and 6,841 words. I feel pretty good about it, everything came together in the last thousand words or so. The hard stuff is over; now I just have to send this to Jeff.


Free as in beer

I take a turn on the Stypod today. No matter who you are, you should at least go get the Sweet Billy Plilgrim song I put up; if you hate it after one listen, hey, it's only six minutes of your life. But if anyone likes it as much as I do, that will more than make up for everyone else.


Just a note

Including everything, I currently have 5,131 words written in the first draft of my thesis. Which is good. But it's not quite done, so no journal entry until tomorrow at the earliest.

Monday, March 28, 2005 

So, yeah

The new Weezer single sucks shit. And I say that having loved pretty much every Weezer comeback single that everyone else said sucked (I still love "Hash Pipe", for example).


Clouds of fuzz

My review of the new Amp, now up at Stylus.

Sunday, March 27, 2005 

What the snowman learned about love

(the title of this post is an injoke for fans of Stars)

So I've been listening to Silent Alarm quite a bit while trying to get my first draft of the thesis done, and it finally sunk in. I now love all the songs I thought were boring the first few times around. It could still do to lose a song or two (although I'm no longer sure which ones), but it's damn good. Mark me up as a convert.


Barnaby, hardly working

About the only nice thing about spending all day writing a philosophy thesis is that you get to listen to tons of music; I've been going through ripped/downloaded albums and deciding which to try to buy, which to keep a few from, etc. I got a few Ramones tracks from my brother, and I've gotta say, the discovery that they invented indie jangle pop circa 1978 on Road To Ruin with "Don't Come Close", "Questioningly" and their cover of "Needles And Pins" was a bit of a shock (but a pleasant one). Just another way they were pioneers, I guess.

Saturday, March 26, 2005 

"But we're happy. Aren't we?"

As per normal, spoiler warning.

Just got in from seeing Closer with K down at the Bookshelf. There are certain movies (usually by Neil LaBute or Todd Solondz) that are on a level of nastiness unrivaled by just about anything else. Barring those, though, this was about the nastiest film I've seen, ranking up there with Shallow Grave. Both are unrelenting in setting up characters you think you like and then having them act such that not only do you no longer like them, you feel vaguely guilty for having done so in the first place.

The main difference, for me, is that where in Shallow Grave the spite is wrapped around a core of tension that steadily ratchets tighter and tighter, Closer substitutes instead a deep, profound sense of sadness. Dan and Alice, Larry and Anna; they're likeable, but not sympathetic. Not really evil, just terribly, believably weak (Jude Law's Dan in particular is what we refer to around these parts as a Cassidy). In the first half of the movie Clive Owen's Larry seems almost like the one we can get behind, but his sustained demolition of Dan's life later on (my favourite scene in the movie) puts the lie to that idea. Suddenly I was feeling more on Dan's "side", but given what he'd already done the feeling was utterly unjustified. Is what Larry says to him justified, even with what Dan has already done? I'm forced to say no, especially given the smile on Larry's face.

But let's not neglect the females. This is a very stagey movie, although pleasantly so, and with the customary zing of theatre language, words crafted for an arena where words are practically all you've got; when we say there are four characters in Closer, we don't mean four main characters, four is all you get. I don't remember anyone else getting a single line of anything approaching consequence. Natalie Portman and Julia Roberts both hold up their end well (it is worth noting that all four leads do excellent jobs, particularly Owen - I'm sure Morgan Freeman was wonderful in Million Dollar Baby, but Owen deserved that Oscar), although Portman is given more to do and is more showy about doing it. Roberts mostly just has to project a certain mood, one very different from what she's known for, but given that her character is the one much of the action between the two men (and rightly or wrongly, they are the main characters) that shouldn't be overlooked.

Roberts, and to some degree the other three, plays someone damaged by the truth. Neither Dan nor Larry can live with polite fictions, both hound others for it endlessly (as does Portman's Alice in one scene, although by the end things are much different), and both are destroyed by it at different times. By the time Larry tells Dan "You don't know the first thing about love, because you don't understand compromise", you can tell he's not necessarily talking about compromise with other people; On some level Larry knows Alice doesn't really love him, and he's okay with that, probably through denial. He doesn't care about the truth any more. And yet he and Anna end up "happy", and Alice and Dan do not. And why? Because Dan can't let go of the truth.

That's not a lesson I think is necessarily transferable to real life; but it makes for a damn fine film. Yes, Mike Nichols did Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? and Carnal Knowledge, and they may even be better films (I haven't seen them), but he clearly hasn't lost his taste for blood with age.


You can't think with spinal fluid

From the CBC:

However, the Schindlers told Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer in a motion filed Friday that their daughter tried to talk. The motion said she tried to articulate the first two words of the sentence, "I want to live."

I am going to assume, knowing the few people who read this regularly, that the fallacy here is apparant. Nonetheless, I am so angry that I'm going to make it explicit anyway.

Even if Schiavo could talk (which, in case you haven't been following things, she can't), and even if she said "I want" (and given how suggestible and outright deceitful the Schindlers have been during this case, why should we believe them?), the only possible way to infer that "to live" follows "I want" is to assume it. For all we know she could have been saying "I want to se my kids" or "I want to go for a walk as I've been in a goddamned hospital bed for fifteen years" or even, yes, "I want to die".

My pity for the Schindlers is sadly outweighed by my contempt for them. They are wrong medically, legally, morally and epistemelogically. Yes, I can understand a certain level of derangement, this is their child. But in fifteen years they should have learned to cope. The fact that they hired Randall Terry is merely another black mark next to their names.

Friday, March 25, 2005 

At long last

Rosancrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is finally available on DVD. The only reason it took so long, I believe, is that the rights were in limbo, but the film richly deserves the wider release, and if even one person that liked Shakespeare In Love sees the name "Tom Stoppard" and picks it up, then we can at least say that there is some justice in the world.


Fame Audit

William Shatner is fucking awesome:

He made himself a punchline with such debonair cunning that -- guess what? -- the man is not a punchline anymore.

When the world zigs, he zags. When the world zags, he zigs. When the world zigs back, he records an album with Ben Folds. When the world chuckles, he pantses the world.

Some celebrities think they've got this whole image thing figured out, they can have fun with it, and they can make it their bitch. Sure, we like John Malkovich, and, sure, we thought it was cool and funny when he starred in
Being John Malkovich. But for William Shatner, every day is Being William Shatner. Some celebrities get it, but Shatner so thoroughly gets it that "it" no longer exists. He's consumed "it." He's crawled up inside celebrity and made it explode, the way that Neo finally crawls into Agent Smith and makes him explode.

Don't mind me, I'm just going to go listen to "Common People" again.

[NB I still hate Star Trek]

Thursday, March 24, 2005 

Fashion SWAT

If you'll recall, the last installment made me bust a gut laughing. Well, so did this one. Check out page 9, especially. I'm pretty sure in the next couple weeks I'll occasionally mutter "Yellowjacket Greenapple" to myself and then burst out laughing.


Cautiously optimistic

I'm with the NDP as far as abolishing the Senate goes, but if we're still going to have one, we could do a hell of a lot worse than Romeo Dallaire.


The Floating World: Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada

I almost wrote about a whole bunch of other things here (my focus on schoolwork has kept me from writing many of these recently), chief among them the Music's exceptional (read: both very good and very out of the ordinary for them) "Breakin'" and Sweet Billy Pilgrim's stunning "Stars Spill Out Of Cups" (very near the top of my list for songs of the year right now).

But my rather frustrating experience with Horses In The Sky has led me back towards A Silver Mount Zion's older material (I still call them that for brevity's sake) and even back to their musical papa, the mighty Godspeed You(!) Black Emperor(!). Godspeed is a band I have seriously mixed feelings for; live they were incredible and at their best on record they are one of the most elevating experiences you'll ever have.

It's a pity the rest of their records suck.

No, I'm being too harsh (and flippant); I got rid of F#A#(Infinity) because it was too quiet and long and slow and because in this case all those qualities added up to boring. There were moments when I got it, yes, and honestly I'm glad that record came out when I was more impressionable and more likely to rush out and buy a record just because the reviews rubbed me the right way. Actually, I still do that; I suppose what I mean is that it's harder to find the reviews that do it for me. And of course the real reason I got rid of it was because by that time I had Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven!, a truly monumental record, one of the finest albums of 2000 (maybe, if I go back and check the lists, the finest?), and one of which my happiest memory is a warm summer day at 92 Neeve Street with all other occupants departed, a blanket on the front lawn, reading The Crying Of Lot 49 for the first time and blasting "Storm", "Static", "Sleep" and "...Antennas To Heaven" out into the wider neighbourhood (and speaking of which, the Arcade Fire record still has yet to really grab me, which I'm sure any number of people would cite as proof of my pitiable state, but for now all I can say is that I like a few of the songs therein).

Lift Yr Skinny Fists... is so great and so complete (so perfected, as Spinoza would say) that it obviates the need for much of the rest of Godspeed's work to date, it blots out their first record and also, I think, their most recent, Yanqui U.X.O., which sits forlornly on my shelf and has been listened to maybe twice, but as it was bought at their live show after I had been reduced to voiceless awe and as I think I recall Pete telling me it's actually great and as the last track (part two of "Motherfucker=Redeemer") is undeniably great, I will give it a few more spins but I feel as if it is destined to hit the used record store.

And that, barring the subject of this entry, is it. All of Godspeed's discography to date. For a group that has had such a (deservedly) seismic impact on whatever we want to call actual alternative music since "alternative" is no longer viable, they really haven't done much at all. Circa July 2003 they went on hiatus for "the better part of a year", and they're not back yet. Honestly, I'm not sure if I want them to come back (any more than I want A Silver Mount Zion to continue on the path I fear they're on, towards "siege songs for fanatics, bunker music for when the authorities are closing in and the kool-aid is being passed around", although I'll always have their first two albums); if all they're going to do is continue to do the same thing, I think many of us will discover we don't have time for them any more. Lift Yr Skinny Fists... is more than mere novelty, but one of the reasons it and the first album hit so hard it because they were different.

But I said in the Horses In The Sky review (and had said before that) that it's not coincidence that Godspeed's two best releases are a double album and an EP, as if you don't have a full hour and a half to luxuriate in this music your best bet is a bite-sized piece, not a full hour-plus. And it's the EP I want to talk about, because almost more so than Lift Yr Skinny Fists... it feels perfect (in the Latin sense of complete rather than ideal), a small package that could not possibly be added to or subtracted from without ruining it.

First, the facts: Two tracks in twenty-eight and a half minutes. "Moya" and "BBF3". Godspeed here are Aidan, Efrim, Mauro, Dave, Thierry, Bruce, Nosola, Sophie and Moya. Except in passing in the notes neither band nor song names are mentioned anywhere on the record; the spine simply says Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada EP. Recorded in Toronto with Dale Morningstar, which is interesting to say the least (Morningstar's The Dinner Is Ruined is one of the weirder Canadian bands of the late 90s, or so I hear). The tactile: Printed on black cardboard, somehow lustrous, with gorgeous bronze inlay on front and back. Either mine is printed backwards or the Hebrew script that everywhere else displays as the front of the EP is the back, and instead the front is a diagram of a Molotov Cocktail in Italian ("Miccia", "Benzine" and "Sabbia + Sapone"). Inside is Bible verse and notes and thank yous.

"Moya" starts with drones and sad strings until the first motif is picked up, bells in the background, sadder and sadder, guitars and drums trying to lift, but if it flies it flies crooked; and the martial build up, suddenly, drums going and cymbals steadily cooking until at 8:28 the sky clears and they all repeat together, all up into the sky; the single moment that anchors the rest of Godspeed's sound, that justifies the build up; and then cello die off, crunchy repetition, that simple phrase made huge. Ten minutes that encapsulate the sound of the band, at least then, that remain the single track to point the curious to. It ends with falling strings; the song is "dedicated to the disappeared cats of mile end" in the inside of the EP. If it is not the best thing Godspeed have ever done than it is at least close to it, or related to it. It is designed, Dave once told the Wire, to be played very loudly.

[From notes: let's build fallen cathedrals + make impossible plans...]

"BBF3" is partly a sick joke; the titular figure ranting in the background for longer than strictly necessary, the interviewer egging him on. Are we supposed to agree? Sympathize? Does the interviewer? Does the band? Politics are always difficult, especially if like me there is so much you agree on with Godspeed and so much you dont. Slower, more Mogwai-like (circa Young Team) at the beginning. And then; violins like locusts. Lazy guitar figures. Slow crescendoes. Tolling bells and Blaise Bailey Finnegan III is back again. He lists his guns and, in the form of telling us his "poetry", recites a Megadeath song. Things chime softly in the background. As the man fades out, the intstruments (almost literally, it sounds like) gather steam. An endless cry; all the rage you've ever felt, all the despair at how things are, every failed effort. And then it ends and the ghosts of strings echo back the way you feel at too late at night or too early in the morning, every time you disappoint yourself. They almost become pretty, but there's always a keen edge. Softer now, slowly.

Nearly twice as long as "Moya", and not quite as amazing (because what is?), but still it tears at your heart, even with the silly man yelling at judges. Whatever you think of their politics, Godspeed have always been a very emotionally complex and nuanced band, and "BBF3" no less so. It is, unlike their earlier material, perfectly paced. The man in it calls for the collapse of civilization, or at least thinks it will happen (is there a difference?), and the feeling persists. Odd that until today it never occurred to me that Godspeed's best work happened prior to September 11, 2001, and yet how some of what seemed once like scorched-earth paranoia now seems just part of the background count. Yanqui U.X.O. almost isn't apocalyptic enough; one feels they've scaled back, going after arms manufacturers and record companies. Here, and elsewhere, they take on life itself.

I beheld the earth,
And, lo, it was waste and void;
And the heavens, and they had no light.

I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled,
And all the hills moved to and fro.

I beheld, and, lo, there was no man,
And all the birds of the heavens were fled.

I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful field was a wilderness
And all the cities thereof were broken down
At the presence of the LORD,
And before His fierce anger.

For thus saith the LORD:
The whole land will be desolate;
Yet I will not make a full end.

[The hydra-headed Godspeed represents such a wide variety of opinion and political persuasion that virtually every statement is echoed or prefaced with the rejoinder that it's only "one person's opinion".
David Keenan, the Wire]

Wednesday, March 23, 2005 


The links to the side have finally had a long-overdue updating. Everyone who was removed was removed because they hadn't updated in literally months. Everyone who was added are sites I read (or check) pretty much every day. I mostly use those links to keep up with stuff when I'm away from home (visiting parents, at work, etc), so they're (merely?) functional.

No, I'm not procrastinating. Why would you think that?


Some photos don't get seen

I've been restraining myself from posting everything important/enlightening/enraging about the Schiavo case that I read, but this analysis deserves to be read, for the contrast at the end if nothing else.


Shame, shame

1 in 10 internet users have bought products via spam.

It's not going to go away until this stops, you know.


Who among us will avenge Ms. Nina Simone?

My review of the band once known only as A Silver Mount Zion is up at Stylus.


Lyrics quiz

Blame Christa.

Here's the deal: 20 sets of lyrics (taken from Winamp), you try to figure out band and song. I'll try not to get ones that are covers, etc. Answer in the comments section if you'd like, I'm relying on the honor system if someone else reveals one that you didn't actually know, and also to prevent Googling. Not that I particularly think someone would bother.

I am not going to be trying to be ultra-obscure, either.

01. Take me out, tonight / Because I want to see people and I want to see light
02. It was like water down the drain / I'm intoxicated every time I hear your name
03. Being a rebel is fine / But you go all the way to being brutal
04. Feeling's gettin stronger / Music's gettin longer too
05. I like to see you / But then again / That doesn't mean you mean that much to me
06. I, I can remember / Standing / By the wall
07. Treated you like a rusty blade / A throwaway from an open grave
08. I must say that in the right light / You look like Shackleton
09. Got a lot of spare time / Some of my youth / And all of my senses on overdrive
10. We could go and get forties / Fuck goin' to that party
11. One word to describe me / Spectacular, yes!
12. He came dancin' across the water / With his galleons and guns
13. Oh, distance has no way / Of making love understandable
14. We don't talk about love / We only want to get drunk
15. I trust you will tell me if I am making a fool of myself
16. Stack of question with no answers / Cure for cancer, cure for AIDS
17. Before you go out / In Saturday's best / I want the house / The house is a mess
18. A jungle junkie, vigilante tantrum / A death kiss, catwalk, squeeze another anthem
19. Take my shoes off, and I will throw them in the lake
20. I went down to the demonstration / To get my fair share of abuse

Tuesday, March 22, 2005 

Test screenings = useless

Having just re-seen the excellent Shallow Grave recently, it's a bit serendipitous that the Onion AV club is interviewing Danny Boyle. Particularly interesting is mention of his next project:

We're doing a film called Sunshine, which is a sci-fi film set in space on the way to the sun. This mission is flying a massive bomb to ignite or re-ignite a section of the sun that is failing. The bomb has been built in space in orbit around the Earth, so there's no weight restrictions on it—it's like the size of Kansas. But the story is really about a mission that went earlier, on the same journey with a similar sized bomb, and it failed, or they've never heard from it again. So there's a mystery involved.

I'd watch that.


Quick fix

Once again, the Onion says it better than I can, this time on the subject of drilling for oil in the Alaskan Arctic Wildlife Refuge. I wonder what my family up in Kodiak thinks about this?


Oh, yeah

Speaking of one-hit wonders (as I did briefly a few days ago), Primitive Radio Gods' "Standing Outside A Broken Phonebooth With Money In My Hand" just came on the radio at work. I love this song - I've actually got both the single edit and album version on my computer at home. So great, BB King and all.



Excellent review of Ian McEwan's new novel Saturday here; I've been meaning to read him for a while (my dad has a few of his books) and this makes me rather eager to do so.

(and on a separate but tangential note, I should really find more Reginald Hill to read)

Monday, March 21, 2005 

Too angry to think of a title

I've been purposely avoiding blogging about the Schiavo case, as much as I've wanted to, both because anyone who reads this regularly can probably guess my stance, and because I have fairly little to add beyond what others have said. But I do want to point people towards two posts that John Scalzi links to here; Scalzi's post itself is also excellent, as is the post on ethics that he includes, but the really crucical one is the medical evaluation. Let me quote a bit of it, first from a quotation within the post and then from the post itself:

By mid 1996, the CAT scans of her brain showed a severely abnormal structure. At this point, much of her cerebral cortex is simply gone and has been replaced by cerebral spinal fluid. Medicine cannot cure this condition. [...] The only debate between the doctors is whether she has a small amount of isolated living tissue in her cerebral cortex or whether she has no living tissue in her cerebral cortex.


Terri Schiavo's cerebral cortex is not damaged, it is absent.


The key to the 4 minutes and 20 seconds of video is that Schiavo seems to be responding in a meaningful way to specific stimuli. All 17 experts who reference the videos take for granted that they demonstrate meaningful emotional or communicative responses. Could they really all be wrong?

Oh, yes. All you need to know to illuminate the question is that the six snippets of video were selected from 4 1/2 hours of tape.
[emphasis in original]

This isn't about sanctity of life or anything like that (and even if it was, I'd place large sums of money on Schiavo's husband knowing her preferences better than her parents if she was an even slightly average 26-year-old), this is about someone who is not, by many conventional definitions, a human being any longer, and who has through the (unintended, I'm sure) cruelty of her parents and others has been trapped in that state for fifteen years. Go find, if you can stomach it, some of the statements her parents have issued; they are depressing and revolting.

By any standard of decency, the thing that was Terri Schiavo should be allowed to die. What a grotesque misappropriation of modern medicine.


"Rock dust" sounds so prosiac

Apparently there may be a quick, cheap, easy and most importantly natural way to rejuvenate soil. It's interesting to note that although human environmental damage has sped up the process of stripping minerals from the soil, to some extent it's a natural phenomenon, as we're 10,000 years from the last glacial ice age that redistributes these things.


I almost forgot

New journal entry went up last night, but I didn't mention it here becase I was tired.

Sunday, March 20, 2005 

What's the sound of salivation?

The Complete Calvin And Hobbes

You know, this will probably be out for my birthday. And if you order it for me now, it's only $140.


Get off my back, man

While I may not agree with my libertarian friend Dan on many things, there are some things where we are firmly in the same camp.

I'm with Mill - your right to interfere with my choices concerning my own health, etc, starts exactly where I've started interfering with others' rights.


Getting it right

The article is a little old, but it's still fascinating: Apparently Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind was essentially correct about memory (barring its central conceit) according to current theories.

Saturday, March 19, 2005 

Every time I look around

There was a top 20 program on MuchMoreMusic today with the top twenty one hit wonders of the 90s - I only saw the first 4 or so, but it reminded me I really should download OMC's "How Bizarre" when I get home. Such a great song.

Friday, March 18, 2005 

Back on Sunday

I'm off to class and then a meeting and then K and I are picking up Ben and Anna and heading for Kincardine; not sure if I'll blog anything while I'm gone, but I've got a review of Corrina Repp and, of course, Singles Going Steady up at Stylus today if you get bored.

Thursday, March 17, 2005 

Evil mind, evil sword

I'd never heard of the 1965 metaphysical samurai movie The Sword Of Doom before this review, but I'd really like to see it now. Nice box art, to boot.


The “you-cant-fire-me-I-quit” approach to childhood

Great piece on Johnathan Lethem's new collection of essays, The Disappointment Artist. I loved Fortress Of Solitude, and clearly with the focus on Philip K. Dick, the Talking Heads, Marvel comics and general obsessive fanboyism, this is a book I can get behind. I can't wait to get my hands on it... after this semester.


Go me

So I woke up this morning determined to have a first draft of my paper on the phenomenology of the hospital waiting room done and sent to Professor Russon by the time I go to bed tonight (St. Patrick's Day be damned, I need to get this stuff done). I'm packing it in for now, to get breakfast and go to work, but I got a lot further than I thought I would - 2,726 words done, including footnotes.

It's fun. I wish all papers were as easy, or as entertaining.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005 


Overqualified is where one of the guys from A Softer World goes ahead and writes cover letters for coporate jobs he will never, ever get. This one is the latest in a long list of things I laughed long and hard at that probably deeply offend some people. Meh.


Good point

Gord raises an excellent point; given that I know about and agree with the whole Creative Commons thing, why the hell don't I have one here? Working on that now...



Thanks to Jeph Jacques of Questionable Content (linked at the side) for linking to a fascinating account of the Socratic Method in action - in a third grade math class. If nothing else, skip down and read the actual account of the class, it's pretty interesting.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005 

Your beliefs are not your rights

John Rogers has, I think, put his finger on something important.


Push It

If Beaucoup Fish was 46:35 long, I'd love it. I would love to own this album:

1. Push Upstairs (4:34)
2. Jumbo (6:58)
3. Shudder/King Of Snake (9:29)
4. Winjer (4:29)
5. Kittens (7:30)
6. Push Downstairs (6:03)
7. Moaner (7:32)

(Yes, I would take "Kittens" over "Cups") I would love to be able to ditch tracks from my version, but since I don't, I guess I'll have to rely on Everything, Everything for some of these, rip a few others, and sell it.

Monday, March 14, 2005 

I'm in the kitchen with the tombstone blues

Christ, if you're having a not-that-great day, by all means don't read Philip K. Dick.

He had a particular air about him: tense and bummed out both at once, a sort of dulled urgency.


Busy day

Plenty of stuff going on at Stylus; the weekly article is awesome, the Singles Jukebox (best week ever) hits a few days late, they re-unveil the UK Singles Jukebox in the wake of Swygart's finale, Matthew Weiner goes after Daft Punk's new album (interesting review, not sure if it jibes with the mark), and Andrew Unterberger re-arranges Stankonia.



If anyone asks me why I own a Gamecube instead of a PS2 or an Xbox, I think I'll direct them here. A little cheesy in parts? Yeah. But something about that worldview resonates with me.

Sunday, March 13, 2005 

That time of the week

New journal entry is up.


You get your dog back, you get your truck back...

International pop(writing) star Edward O has finally started a new blog, about country music. Should be fun, and I imagine it'll show up next time I update my links.

Saturday, March 12, 2005 


Urgent and key aricle by Slavoj Zizek here about Communism and Fascism. I've meant to pick up one of Zizek's books for a while now, and this certainly gives me impetus to.

Friday, March 11, 2005 

Group work

There's a pretty massive edition of the Rubber Room up today at Stylus, and I contribute a word or two on Sweet Billy Pilgrim's excellent "Stars Spill Out Like Cups" single.


Wewy, wewy intewesting

Dan put up a good post on scientific realism versus scientific positivism, but I flatter myself to say if you like that you'll love the discussion.

Thursday, March 10, 2005 

All better

Six or seven slices of pepperoni pizza confirms my thesis that my stomach felt so bad partly because of a lack of food. I normally don't eat that much pizza in one sitting, but booze does weird things to my appetite, both at the time and later.

It helped that at the Ontarion I managed to get the new Daft Punk and Keren Ann for review purposes. I really do wonder what I'll think of the Daft Punk, though.

Also cheering me up is the fact that I came home to find not one but two packages in the mail, one from ZTT with the new reissue of Kirsty MacColl's second last album, and one from our beloved promo editor at Stylus containing, among other goodies, the new Amon Tobin.

That alone would be enough to make me very happy, but add to that the fact that in recent days Todd Hutlock's Detroit Techno mix (which is great) and a CD-R of Time Fades Away by Neil Young burned from vinyl by Alfred Soto (who should write more) have both landed in the mailbox and this has been the best week for mail I've ever had in my life.


Still going

Apparently Creemore Springs makes my stomach feel like a sac of battery acid the next day after I overindulge.



Alexander Rishaug's Possible Landscapes is one of those records I played at work and had people asking "is that music?", which is always interesting. I liked it more than that, though.


Hard Grinding the name of the romance novel that Ian McKellen's character has written when he appears on Coronation Street.


Hung over

My food luck at work continues to hold; I got in feeling a bit poorly and lacking food aside from a hastily made baloney sandwich, and lo and behold there was an apple I forgot in the fridge and a strawberry-rhubarb pie open to all on the kitchen counter. My stomach is slowly beginning to improve.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 

Only shallow

I've never heard Ivy's music, but this is easily my favorite album cover of the year so far. Although, to be honest, the ones for All The Plans Resting and The Great Destroyer are right up there, and not just because I love both of those records.


Ringtones and building P.A.s for the Fall

Interesting interview with Thomas Dolby up at the Onion AV Club.



My piece trashing Broken Social Scene's You Forgot It In People is up at Stylus.


Momentary annoyance

It makes me sad that the fucktards working on our building (I normally wouldn't generalize, but we could hear these two talking as they hammered on our wall this morning) couldn't take out our old window without putting big gashes in the new screen. We haven't had a proper screen since we moved in and I'm really looking forward to being able to fully open the windows in the summer. I know it'll be replaced, but gah. It vexes me.

Monday, March 07, 2005 

The peril of promos

I didn't notice until now that I have a review up at Stylus today (of Charalambides' first album) because as Kranky has very minimalist promo copies, I'd never seen the cover art before.



BLVR: Do you like Darwin?

MG: Like him? What a stupid question. How can anybody say that? How can anybody not like him? What do you mean?

Not only is Marjorie Grene the "personification of hostile irascibility", she gets it wrong repeatedly (such as with Merleau-Ponty, although it's nice to see she likes him). Don't get me wrong, I like Darwin too, but if you don't understand the fact that a depressingly large number of people don't, you've been in the ivory tower too long.

Edit: Of course, any post in which I accuse others of getting it wrong will have a typo (I got her first name wrong, no less). Such is life.


Romantic rights

The prose here may be a bit purple, but it does point out something I'd overlooked when first hearing about that story. Alabama has banned dildos, vibrators, etc (thanks Supreme Court!), but not Viagra. When you think about it a little, it does seem rather sinister.


Pop magic

Interesting interview with Grant Morrison on a porn site (well, okay, Suicide Girls, but still). The part where he talks about the Matrix is a hoot.


End of an era

Colin Cooper says it best, in the comments: "Radio 1 killed off my favourite feature in any magazine, probably ever. Thanks for doing your best, Will."

Goodnight, sweet prince. We'll always have "Hounds Of Love".


Poor kid

I randomly stumbled onto this story, about a kid who came out of a coma after listening to Green Day, while searching for something else. But the part that really gets me? When he got hit by that car, it was his birthday and he was on his way to the store to spend his birthday money. I have the feeling if he pulls through he may not want to celebrate his birthday for a decade or so.

Sunday, March 06, 2005 


My successor as the Arts & Culture editor of the Ontarion (the site hasn't been updated in a while, by the way) asked me very nicely if I'd halt my school-imposed hiatus this week and turn in something for the column I've written there off and on for four years now. I basically did it as a favor to her, but it didn't turn out too bad, so what the hell. Here it is, written in ten minutes and entirely unrevised.

Low and the problem of identity

There’s a fairly common and famous problem in philosophy the most famous example of which is Theseus’ ship. This ship is repaired so often over the years that eventually no piece of the original is left in the current vessel. Is it the same ship? The paradox is that we have logical and reasonable reasons to say both yes, it’s the same ship and no, it’s a different ship. The human body does the same thing, of course; anyone reading this is in a literal sense not the same person they were five, ten or fifteen years ago. But we don’t really notice that. What about bands?

Low made their reputation for years by singing (in gorgeous not-quite-harmony from husband and wife Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker) hushed, liturgical songs full of menace and calm. There’s a crystalline, cool purity to their best work the effect of cannot be found in any other music. They made six gorgeous albums in this basic mode, although later work like 2002‘s underrated Trust widened their scope a little with a few tracks like “Canada” that explored noise. If their last few albums had replaced a few boards, however, this year’s The Great Destroyer scraps the hull and starts over.

It’s identifiably the same band, the same voices, some of the same themes, but with the help of baroque producer/Mercury Rev member David Fridmann they’ve burst from their old sepia tones into full, lush colour, from the watercolour sleeve by bassist Zak Sally onwards. A slow explosion of density like “Pissing” or the country-ish “Silver Rider” might have fit in with their earlier works but the pop of “California” or “Just Stand Back” wouldn’t, to say nothing of the near-industrial grind of “Monkey” and “Everybody’s Song”.

I think it works, although some fans probably won’t, but more importantly I think it’s something that had to happen. There’s been plenty of indication in recent interviews that the band (which originally started so slow and quiet as almost a joke) had begun to feel penned in by what they were expected to sound like. They have, without question, moved away from many of the things that once made them special, and as much as I like the new album, we’ll still have to wait if they find new things. If you listen to The Great Destroyer without wanting it to be something it’s not (another Long Division or Secret Name), it’s hard not to appreciate it for what it is.

The “great destroyer” of the title is, of course, time. There are plenty of songs here that might make you think the band is about to call it quits (“When I Go Deaf”, “Death Of A Salesman”, “Walk Into The Sea”), but they sound refreshed as they’re playing them. Are they the same band as they used to be? Does it really matter?


Wrong place, right time

New journal entry up.


Launch dept.

The Futureheads have some stuff up at Launch, two videos for "Decent Days And Nights" up. I actually like the new one (with "&" instead of "And") better visually, but it uses some weird new edit of the song that's not as good.

The Hives, meanwhile, have a brief but funny interview up and a live performance of "Walk Idiot Walk" that's notable mainly for Pelle's garbled introduction and the shitty camera work.

Snow Patrol continue to worm their way into my heart with an interview wherein Gary Lightbody appears to be slowly losing his mind, albeit in an amusing fashion, and an acoustic version of "Spitting Games" that really shouldn't work. I'm not sure it does, actually, but if you're a fan of the original it's worth watching. The videos for "Chocolate" and "Run" appear to have disappeared, worse luck.

Also: Prolapse!

It occurs to me these are all pretty indie rock. Blame the new videos selection at Launch, not me. Go listen to "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" or "Crunk Muzik" or something for balance.


The end is, as they say, not yet

You know, I've been meaning to update my links for a while, and one of the things I was going to do was get rid of Jacklin, since he was finished. It's just as well I'm lazy, though, because he's back, and with a killer redesign, to boot. Yeah, it's annoying to have to go through line by line, but it's so satisfying when you're done. Someday I'll learn to hand code, because that'd be even more so. Kinda like the difference between buying a chair and making one.


Oooh, burn

Paul Martin on the Conservatives:

"They will have to figure out who they are and what they stand for, then figure out how to conceal it from the Canadian people."

I like that. It strikes the right balance between straightforward and nasty, you know?


What a mess

Are Sgrena's accusations paranoia? We'll probably never know, and I'm torn about whether I think they are or not, personally. I can imagine some soliders doing that, and others refusing to. The fact that the whole thing will no doubt remain shrouded in the sour mist of half-conspiracy is pretty discouraging.

One thing seems relatively clear, though; Nicola Calipari probably deserves that state funeral.

Saturday, March 05, 2005 

In your dreams

So I was living and working (at what don't ask me) on this quasi-military secret research base that was trying to make a time machine. They were going to try to send a brave volunteer 20 minutes forward in time, but instead most of us that lived on the base (including this one cute girl I'd been getting along with pretty well - but I digress) got sent far, far into the future.

Far enough, thankfully, to avoid the quasi-nuclear apocalypse. Most of the dream was then spent exploring the area we found ourself in (which was clearly _another_ fortified base, although this one had been used by a less savoury group than we belonged to, but they were all gone). Near the end of the dream we encountered some scattered survivors who seemed like nice folks, but then we encountered another survivor, who although he'd lost an arm at the elbow had also mutated to, oh, 2-300 feet tall (we were a bit busy running to measure). When the dream ended the cute girl and I (she had a name that I knew in the dream, I just can't recall, okay?) were holed up in a car underneath the awning of the gas station watching him wander away.

The sad thing is, the dream was a lot of fun.


It's not all downloading

I've been spending the evening actually listening to music for leisure purposes (imagine!), getting acquainted with The Italian Flag (which is everything Swygart said it was; I've just ordered Backsaturday, and will probably get more when possible) and re-aquainted with 458489 A Sides and Bend Sinister. If I'm in the wrong mood listening to the Fall absolutely does not work for me, but between repeat listens to The Italian Flag it worked just fine.

But, as when I've been listening to Low albums, I want something else in a similar vein. And looking at my shelf I see nothing that quite works (although some stuff comes close in various ways; Shellac/Big Black/Rapeman, Life Without Buildings, more Fall, but mostly stuff I haven't processed and therefore do not yet love). I know some music people read this, so any recommendations in the comments box would be appreciated.

And of course, the only other thing I listened to today was The Pretty Toney Album, which continues to grow on me. I think the local record store has a used copy of Supreme Clientele, something else to check out when I get paid again...

Friday, March 04, 2005 

Xtopher Marlin

Excellent comparative review of two new books on Christopher Marlowe. I'd love to get my hands on Tamburlaine Must Die.

Thursday, March 03, 2005 

It's not the band I hate, it's their fans

I don't agree with everything Heather MacDonald says here, but both the Summers and Kinsley debacles certainly don't reflect well on the forces of modern radical feminism. And the worst part is, of course this is going to overshadow the legions of women (and men) who are feminist without resorting to pointless intimidation.


Huh huh, you said "butt"

John Rogers gets it right on Corner Gas. I've only seen a few episodes, but the show's qualities stand out after even one. And I think the larger point about TV and characters is well-taken - this is why it doesn't quite work when I try to describe Homicide or Firefly; the plots are neat, yeah, but what you really stick around for are the characters. I certainly wouldn't mind being told I'd spend the rest of my life in that Baltimore precint on or Serenity.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005 

All Or Nothing

After a Mike Leigh film, the emotional effect of all other cinema seems somehow obscenely trivial and easy. Nothing really horrible happens in All Or Nothing, but seeing those characters ever so slowly peek a little out of their shells feels hard won. There's precious little progress, of course, but the fact that any happened at all almost beggars belief.

My childhood was not, in any way, dysfunctional. But it certainly had its share of night when it felt like maybe it was, and remembering how I felt then, I recognize the looks on the faces of the family in this film. When All Or Nothing finished, the class applauded furiously, which shocked me. It was well deserved, for both cast and crew, but I can't picture appluading Leigh's work; quietly and respectfully leaving the room as the characters slowly gather the remnants of their dignity after all we've seen seems more appropriate. No doubt due to Leigh's working method, it's harder with his films than those of others distinguishing between actor and role. I was quite able to foget Timothy Spall was in a Harry Potter movie for the duration.


Nuts to optimal thinking

Voltaire did not believe that there was any justice or balance in the world, but he believed that bad ideas made people bad. The villains in the book are not, as in Samuel Johnson’s exactly contemporary and parallel “Rasselas,” the fatality of the world and the mortality of man. The villains are the villains: Jesuits and Inquisitors and English judges and Muslim clerics and fanatics of all kinds. If they went away, life would be much better. He knew that the flood would get your garden no matter what you did; but you could at least try to keep the priests and the policemen off the grass. It wasn’t enough, but it was something.

Very good article on Voltaire at The New Yorker. Kudos to Gopnik for not reducing Leibnitz to a cariacature but not letting him off the hook either.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005 


From A Scanner Darkly, which I'm rereading:

At the wheel of his slow car, Bob Arctor forgot theoretical matters and did a rerun of a moment that had impressed them all: the dainty and elegant straight girl in her turtleneck sweater and bell-bottoms and trippy boobs who wanted them to murder a great harmless bug that in fact did good by wiping out mosquitos - and in a year in which an outbreak of encephalitis had been anticipated in Orange County - and when they saw what it was and explained, she had said words that became for them their parody evil-wall-motto, to be feared and despised:


That had summed up to them (and still did) what they distrusted in their straight foes, assuming they had foes; anyhow, a person like well-educated-with-all-the-financial-advantages Thelma Kornford became at once a foe by uttering that, from which they had run that day, pouring out of her apartment and back to their littered pad, to her perplexity. The gulf between their world and hers had manifested itself, however much they'd meditated on how to ball her, and remained. Her heart, Bob Arctor reflected, was an empty kitchen: floor tile and water pipes and a drainboard with pale scrubbed surfaces, and one abandoned glass on the edge of the sink that nobody cared about.


Production for use

New journal entry up, and my review of the new Doves album is up.

My verdict: It's shit.


Dumb ass motherfuckers

So some kid in the US is in custody for making "terrorist threats" via zombies.

It's bad enough when they arrest high school students for actually saying they'd like to burn down their school, but a short story about zombies taking over the school? That'd be painfully asinine, even if it didn't having lasting effects for this guy.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.

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.

Contact Me:
imathers at gmail dot com

My profile
Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates