Tuesday, May 31, 2005 

Demon days

So driving home from work tonight the best thing I could find on the radio was "Feel Good Inc.", the chorus (which is inextricable in my mind from the moment in the video where the flying tower finally gets above the clouds into the sunshine) perfectly suiting my mood. But first I had to put up with some dumb asshole calling into the radio station complaining about Gwen Stefani's solo career, talking about how good the No Doubt albums before Tragic Kingdom were(!), and asking what has happened to punk rock(!!).

The capper for me was when he asked what was next, Tim Armstrong making some sort of techno record? Apparantly he's never heard the Transplants record (which ain't techno, but sure as hell isn't what this guy thinks of as punk either). Or, to quote Mitch Clem:

Guys, come on, are we really that far behind? Are we really so stupid that we're concerned about what is and is not punk STILL? After, what, 25 years? If you've written me an email calling me out for not being punk enough for your tastes, you may want to go visit the doctor because you may be suffering from a condition millions of Americans suffer from every day, called being a freaking moron. Go listen to your stupid Exploited records and drink your beer and wear your spikes and call other people who are less fashion conscious than you "posers". You'll be dropping punk in favor of a house in the suburbs, a nine to five job and a military service record soon, trust me.



The Ontario Film Review Board will no longer ban films.


The elements

The great detective novelist P.D. James reviews what sounds like a very interesting book on poisoning.


Head banging (against a wall)

My On Second Thought on Local H is up, and like most things that took too much work, it's not as good as it should be. Still worth a look, I hope.

Monday, May 30, 2005 

Strong words

Seems like Anthony Miccio's piece on Wait has stirred some people up. For what it's worth, my personal reaction to the song is closest to jshepard's out of all the people I've read so far, although our reactions aren't identical (which may or may not have anything to do with my genitals, I'll leave it up to others more conversant with what I'm allowed to feel due to my gender to decide). But I don't think Anthony's points both in the original and in response are invalid. So where the fuck does that leave me (aside from in the middle of Wishy Washy Land)?

Also, let's please not forget an important fact takes on the song shouldn't neglect: It's fucking boring, whether or not it's offensive.


At long fucking last

The journal has belatedly been updated. Things should be returning to normal in terms of posting soon. Going sleep now.

Friday, May 27, 2005 

No alarms and no surprises

Absolutely horrifying article in Harper's about Colorado Springs and its superchurches:

In Pastor Ted’s book Dog Training, Fly Fishing, & Sharing Christ in the 21st Century, he describes the church he thinks good Christians want. “I want my finances in order, my kids trained, and my wife to love life. I want good friends who are a delight and who provide protection for my family and me should life become difficult someday . . . I don’t want surprises, scandals, or secrets . . . I want stability and, at the same time, steady, forward movement. I want the church to help me live life well, not exhaust me with endless ‘worthwhile’ projects.” By “worthwhile projects” Ted means building funds and soup kitchens alike. It’s not that he opposes these; it’s just that he is sick of hearing about them and believes that other Christians are, too. He knows that for Christianity to prosper in the free market, it needs more than “moral values”—it needs customer value.

Say it with me now, folks:

Fitter, happier, more productive,
not drinking too much,
regular exercise at the gym
(3 days a week),
getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries,
at ease,
eating well
(no more microwave dinners and saturated fats),
a patient better driver,
a safer car
(baby smiling in back seat),
sleeping well
(no bad dreams),
no paranoia,
careful to all animals
(never washing spiders down the plughole),
keep in contact with old friends
(enjoy a drink now and then),
will frequently check credit at (moral) bank (hole in the wall),
favors for favors,
fond but not in love,
charity standing orders,
on Sundays ring road supermarket
(no killing moths or putting boiling water on the ants),
car wash
(also on Sundays),
no longer afraid of the dark or midday shadows
nothing so ridiculously teenage and desperate,
nothing so childish - at a better pace,
slower and more calculated,
no chance of escape,
now self-employed,
concerned (but powerless),
an empowered and informed member of society
(pragmatism not idealism),
will not cry in public,
less chance of illness,
tires that grip in the wet
(shot of baby strapped in back seat),
a good memory,
still cries at a good film,
still kisses with saliva,
no longer empty and frantic like a cat tied to a stick,
that's driven into frozen winter shit
(the ability to laugh at weakness),
healthier and more productive
a pig in a cage on antibiotics.


You're going to beat what up?

He's writing for the Village Voice here, and not Stylus, but Anthony Miccio absolutely nails Ying Yang Twins' "Wait (The Whisper Song)". I'm one of those who never want to hear it again (down at the bottom, and as I say, only partially because I think it's offensive) but that doesn't mean I disagree with Miccio. The most perceptive write up of the track so far.


Just the facts, ma'am

Slate has an incredibly well-done mini-site examining fully and in-depth the issues surrounding torture that have arisen from recent conflicts. This is crucial reading for just about anyone, American or not.


More influential than Descartes?

I would have linked this review just because the book sounds fascinating and John Gray makes some good points about the history of ideas, but the brief illumination of one of Spinoza's main points (and his correct surmise that it showed up again in Freud) would have garnered this a link even if the rest had been crap.


Old wounds

Things are slowly returning to normal around these parts, productivity-wise - I'll probably wind up doing a journal entry for last week this afternoon, although I'll save this week for this Sunday. In the meantime, here's my review of the new Belle and Sebastian EP collection. Although I thought it was the right word when I wrote it, I'm now not sure "soul" is the correct way to describe "Lazy Line Painter Jane", but I can't think of a better word.

Thursday, May 26, 2005 


I thought I'd updated here more recently, but I guess I didn't; in any case, here's a pretty good rubbishing of some fashionable nonsense.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 

"It ain't NASA-sarily so"

Tom over at Freaky Trigger has really been on a roll recently; his most recent piece of excellent writing is this post on, to paraphrase the comments "the invention of badness".

My own example is an old episode of the Ghostbusters cartoon (which gives this post it's title) where they went up to a satellite and found there this huge, monstrous shapeshifting ghost, kind of a spectral version of Tetsuo from the end of Akira. I am quite sure I am over-remembering how creepy it was, but I'm equally sure I'm not going to watch the episode again.

I also have overly spooky memory of The Prisoner, but in a good way.



So we're back from Ithaca, although I haven't had time to sit down and get anything done yet; but I should mention I'm participating in the mighty Edward O's Euro-chart roundups, the first installment of which is here.

I was a little worried my marks would be way out of line with everyone else's, but by the last two songs on the top ten I manage to predict the average mark. Next up: the Netherlands.

Friday, May 20, 2005 

Friday Random 10

Aww, what the heck. Whenever I see one of these, I invariably have to join in. I'm just going to borrow Orac's explanation, too:

Basically, take iTunes (or your MP3 player of choice), set it to random or shuffle play, and then list the first 10 songs from your music library that it plays.

Rancid - "Spirit Of '87"
The Durutti Column - "In D"
Interpol - "Precipitate"
Lamb - "God Bless"
Belle & Sebastian - "The Loneliness Of The Middle Distance Runner"
Placebo - "Special Needs"
Rammstein - "Sonne"
Beck - "Lazy Flies"
Whipping Boy - "Morning Rise"
Add N To (X) - "Revenge Of The Black Regent"


Oh, this is perfect

Anthony Lane vs. Revenge Of The Sith

The movie doesn't stand a fucking chance. His take on Yoda justifies the article by itself.

Thursday, May 19, 2005 

I am your pamphleteer

Thanks to Justin Cober-Lake for passing on this great, great article about The Weakerthans and Winnipeg.


"A thinly veiled form of privatized censorship"

Thomas Nagel does an excellent job summing up Catharine McKinnon's work.


Magnificent in his anger

John Rogers writes rants that are both blisteringly funny and deeply troubling. He's put everything that should piss you off about the whole Newsweek bullshit into pointed commentary, and it's essential reading.


Good ol' gossip

From Popbitch this week:

"Disbanded Scottish band The Delgados have been asked to write songs for the new Sugababes album."

That would be a little bit of awesome, I think.



Writing a review of the Sunburned Hand of the Man album I got a promo for was pretty hard but, comments notwithstanding, I think it went pretty well.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 

This is the switch

The Seconds: Perfect Moments in Pop article by me that went up today was the most fun I've had writing something in a month, easily.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 

Sour grapes

You know, if Harper wants to accuse Belinda Stronach of "ambition" for joining the Liberals, that's fine.

But what exactly is he pretending motivates his actions? I realise Canadian politics is rife with hypocrites, but Harper is one of my least favourite.

Also, for what it's worth, I think Stronach's contention that the Bloc Quebecois is not the party the Conservatives should be aligning with is valid, whether or not that's really why she switched.


Music blather

A couple of odd things have happened/occured to me recently:

Last night K and I went out to the Diana restaurant for supper, and what was playing as we waited for food? "I Love Baby Cheesy"! Man, was that a blast from the past. I wonder if Pete still loves it, and if Josh still loathes it.

(At least, I think it's "I Love Baby Cheesy" - the one with "It's great! It's great! It's great! It's great! It's great! It's great!" in it, anyway)

While using the stationary bike at the gym on Monday, listening to Prolapse's unmatched The Italian Flag (which William Swygart does an excellent job of describing, something I wouldn't have thought possible), I had one of those mysterious, powerful moments of visual/auditory unity. I was on "Killing The Bland" and watching CBC Newsworld, and during the relatively placid opening verse they just showed two talking heads. But exactly as Derrick and Steelyard started screaming

See them!

They switched to rough digital video footage of a riot in an unnamed Muslim country over the US' purported abuse of the Qu'ran at Guantanamo. One of those shaky you-are-there visual moments.

Be them!

It was stunning in a way I can't quite recapture here. And just as the chorus ended they went back to the talking heads.

Also, back when I lived in Kincardine and lusted for albums I couldn't get through the proxy of Allmusic, Ride's Nowhere was near the top of my list (as was Slowdive's Souvlaki, which I did wind up loving). Best non-Loveless shoegaze album? I was there.

But when I moved to Guelph, through the infinite grace and vagaries of The Beat Goes On, Going Blank Again was the first Ride album I got my hands on. Although at that point I'd read David Cavanagh's frankly amazing (and now out-of-print!) account of the rise and fall of Creation Records, which I found for $5 (US) in a bookstore at Harvard and bought not knowing it's significance. And after reading that I was actually a little more interested in GBA, which wound up living up to Cavanagh's account, maybe even exceeding it; "OX4" and "Leave Them All Behind" are great, yeah, but "Cool Your Boots" is one of my favourite songs ever.

Anyway, point is, I finally picked up Nowhere about a year ago, and have listened to it twice. It just isn't doing much of anything for me, "Vapour Trail" excepted. But I'll give it a few more shots before selling it.

And lastly, as I'm just listening to Super Furry Animals' Phantom Power here at work, I'll just ask why "The Undefeated" didn't get mentioned more in reviews at the time. To my ears it's the real gem, not "Venus & Serena" (though that's good too).


Memories of Silent Hill

Warren Ellis has a link to some creepy photos of an abandoned Japanese theme park.



Seeing as how I now use Bloglines to check most of the sites I read, and the links to the side are mostly used (as far as I know) so I can read them from places that aren't my apartment, I've eliminated redundancies. So if you used to be linked and now it looks like you aren't, check "Me@Bloglines" up there on the right first, you may in fact still be around.

And if you're someone (Joy) who uses my blog to read comics (Joy), you shouldn't worry as you can still find those comics through Bloglines (Joy). Just load the appropriate feed and then once it shows up on the ride side click the title again and the site will load. Oh, you'll figure it out (Joy). If there's anyone out there, that is, who does that (Joy).

Monday, May 16, 2005 

Mystery piano man

This story is just fascinating (click through to read the BBC story too, for the pictures if nothing else). It really does sound film-like; traumatized, soaking wet man in a suit with all the labels removed is found by police, taken to a mental hospital where he remains mute but plays the piano and composes music.

I know the first priority is the man's health, but one kind of wishes they'd had recording gear set up when he sat down at the piano.


Monday morning

New journal entry up a few hours ago.


"They're both nuts"

Good article over at Wired on, of all things, the middle ground between censorship of porn and ridiculousness. The columnist (and the author she's discussing) has a perfectly reasonable thesis: That adults should have access to any "obscene" material they want (as long as other rights aren't being infringed), but that we also have the right not to see this stuff if we want. Sounds obvious, yeah, but tell that to both sides of the recent porn wars.



Up near the top of the sidebar over on the right is a new permanent(?) feature, probably only suitable for those of you who are music fans, where I'll be listing mixes I've made people. It'll be updated at least once a month.

Sunday, May 15, 2005 

Classix 10k Modern

This is my favorite Winamp skin ever. It doesn't change the program as much as some, but shrinking the main window and equalizer is nice, I can resize the playlist back to my regular gargantuan size, and the notifier is really nice.

Plus I've always liked minimalist designs.


I haven't read enough

theory slut
You are a Theory Slut. The true elite of the
postmodernists, you collect avant-garde
Indonesian hiphop compilations and eat journal
articles for breakfast. You positively live
for theory. It really doesn't matter what
kind, as long as the words are big and the
paragraph breaks few and far between.

What kind of postmodernist are you!?
brought to you by Quizilla

Theory slut? I guess it gets closer than the other results (well, except maybe Cyberculture Floozie), but honestly I don't know enough to be a Theory Slut. Yet. Guess I better go fire up my avant-garde Indonesian hiphop compilation and crack the books.

Oh, and I don't get the picture either.

Saturday, May 14, 2005 

I like "The Resume Shocker"

It's a tough job market out there these days, but if you just can't hack it where you are, you should definitely try getting fired using one of these.

Friday, May 13, 2005 

The Floating World: My Favourite Chords

Yes, I know. It's been way too long for me, too. We'll see if I can't get back into the swing of things so these are closer than a month-and-a-half apart in the future. I feel like I've been busy, although I don't know if I can point at much I've accomplished.

Last Friday we went out to Jer and Aaron's place in Toronto for that Party Without Pants that looks to become a yearly feature. It was a lot of fun, and it's always good to see those two (and others), but the party is almost wholly without importance for what I want to talk about here.

The ride home, on the other hand, is noteworthy, as I had brought the Weakerthans' classic (yes, already) Left And Leaving. I'm pretty sure this was the first time I'd played it for K. Left And Leaving is one of those albums that I don't listen to all that often, but when I do I nearly always choke up a little, staring wistfully out the window. It as nearly perfect an album as any I own, with only the inclusion of "Slips And Tangles" at the end sounding a false note (and do notice that the lyrics for it are, unlike every other song, not in the booklet). Even then, I can buy it as some sort of recovery space from the end of "Exiles Among You" (the placing of which just before "My Favourite Chords" could carry a Floating World all on its lonesome).

There is so much I could write about various aspects of Left And Leaving that I simply wouldn't know where to begin, which is why it's only making its appearance here now; it is quite simply the best album that happens to have been made by Canadians in probably the last ten years. Only Readymade's first and third albums, the Sycamores' Farewell To Deseronto and the Constantines' albums even come close (don't start muttering about the Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene to me or I will smack you), and all of must reluctantly concede the ground to the Weakerthans on one ground or another (although if the Constantines ever do make an album that fulfills the promise of their records and their live show it will be better than Left And Leaving).

Of their three albums so far, it's definitely the quietest Weakerthan album, a hell of a lot more accomplished than their generally underwhelming (save "Confessions Of A Futon-Revolutionist", "Wellington's Wednesdays" and especially "Diagnosis") debut Fallow, which is still too in hock to John K. Samson's past as the bassist in Propaghandi. Nothing against that band, but you can't exactly picture them doing "Everything Must Go!" or "History To The Defeated", and that sort of song is crucial to Left And Leaving and the Weakerthans.

It's also better than Reconstruction Site, a record I've never really grown to like. I was really only able to articulate a reason in the Jeep on the way home that Friday, as I told K about the gimmicky clever-clever nature of many of the songs on that album, whether successful ("Our Retired Explorer (Dines With Michel Foucault In Paris, 1961)") or... not ("Plea From A Cat Named Virtue"). I certainly don't require every band, or every album by any band, to be serious, but most of what I get from Left And Leaving is emotional, and Reconstruction Site neither reaches for those same emotions nor even really tries to. Which is fine, but that's not replaced with anything that does it for me.

One of the other things I think is so great about Left And Leaving is that it is a stellar example of the way that the political is the personal. I hate it when people say the converse, by the way - it's not that politics are unimportant, it's that putting politics above people is dangerous and wrong and irritates me. Samson manages to tread the right side of a very thin line here, using (to quote allmusic.com) "personal ethics as a reaction to the welfare state" without ever making Left And Leaving anything other than a very personal album.

So. Enough beating around the bush. "My Favourite Chords" (nearly) ends the album with a very simple acoustic guitar part and Samson's singing, augmented with steel guitar near the end. It's a showcase for Samson's lyrics, and they're as strong as ever - in my opinion, Samson's is one of the few modern lyrical bodies of work that could actually work as poetry. There are a ton of great lines:

Wish I had a socket set to dismantle this morning
Me and my anger sit folding a paper bird
It's such an enormous thing to walk and to listen

And mostly:

We've got a lot of time
Or maybe we don't
But I'd like to think so
So let me pretend

It's not my favourite song on the album, but it is great, and it does fit perfectly. But that's also not why I'm writing about it tonight.

The next night after driving back from Toronto I found myself, as per normal, out at the Shadow, and eventually I left to go home. Joy was with me, so I walked her home first, and due to the routes involved I wound up walking through most of downtown twice. There weren't that many people out, but on the way from Joy's to home especially, there were lots of people going home disappointed. People who had been out to try to pick up, that sort of thing. Lots of twos and threes of guys walking home drunk, bullshitting each other that the night went well. And as I walked down the slope past the Albion towards our building, I realised that "My Favourite Chords" had crept into my head unbidden, and I thought about K.

Partly because of the way Samson sings I'd like to fall asleep to the beat of your breathing, which reminds me of K in a funny way because her breathing as I'm trying to fall asleep is generally pretty, uh, noticable (yes, I told her that's one of the reasons this song made me think of her, and yes she laughed).

She'd spent the day either sleeping or doing nothing much, deliberately after a stressful week. As much as I do enjoy hanging out with Joy and playing video games, I'll admi part of the reason I had been out of the house all day was to let her decompress. And as I walked home, I just felt happy. Oh, I'm sure a little of it was this song. It's one that's not blind to the shit that's out there sometimes (The Mayor's out killing kids to keep taxes down), but it's a song of acceptance and love and patience. But mostly, it was just knowing I was coming home to K. I'd had a good day, a fun day, and I had a cute girl waiting in bed in my apartment for me to get home. I shamefully admit to feeling a little superior to all the single guys walking home that night, but it wasn't just that. I'd heard the phrase "the love of a good woman" tossed around in various pop cultural contexts for most of my life, but the last few years it's started to actually mean something to me.

So I was happy, which is worth a lot. I spent half of my walk home in a little reverie, thinking about all the things I love about K, and I won't even try to list any of them here because (a) the moment is gone and (b) that's kind of between the two of us, don't you think? and most importantly (c) because when you feel that way about a person you're not really thinking about "all the things", you're just thinking of them, and what they mean to you, and how they make you feel, and doing that makes you feel warm and happy and at home and all those good things.

So. I got home and K was sleepy but up and the first thing I did was give her a hug (although that's often the first thing I do). I don't think "My Favourite Chords" was responsible for the way I felt, not even close, but I do think it was more congenial to the way I was feeling than, say, the stuff we heard at the bar. And I know whenever I hear this song from now on, I'll think of a certain someone.


Top fives

Stolen from, while, specifically from Seb, but really found through Vinyl Mine. I'm using Seb's version because I like the category he adds. All of these are, as per policy, in no particular order and subject to change without notice.

Five Lyrics that "Move My Heart"
[Ian note: Where "Move My Heart" does not necessarily mean what you'd assume it means]

I am the best seventeen-year-old ever
(The Wrens - "Everyone Choose Sides")

A quiet life
With my wife
Is all I need, for goodness' sake
The things I make
They have no use
But they have the most beautiful shape

(Six By Seven - "A Beautiful Shape")

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

Why must she taunt me so
She still has his scent
She still wears the bastard's clothes
Oh I've lived a lie
I stole a pretty bride during the summertime

(Hefner - "I Stole A Bride")

I still hear trains at night
When the wind is right I
Remember everything
Lick and thread this string
That will never mend you or tailor more
Than a memory of the kitchen floor
Or the fire door that we kept propping open
And I love this place, the enormous sky
And the faces, hands that I'm haunted by
So why
Can't I forgive these buildings
These frameworks labeled "Home"?

(The Weakerthans - "This Is a Fire Door Never Leave Open")
[This one in particular affects me deeply despite bearing no relation to my life]

I've got reservations
About so many things
But not about you

(Wilco - "Reservations")

Top Five Instrumentals
"Green Onions" - Booker T & The MGs
"Doctor Who Theme" - BBC Radiophonic Workshop
"A Warm Place" - Nine Inch Nails
"You Should Be Getting Something" - King Cobb Steelie
"Meeting In The Aisles" - Radiohead

Top Five Musical Experiences
- Seeing Spiritualized twice in two nights and going backstage after the second show.
- Being blown away by a set by this guy neither Pete nor I had ever heard called Prefuse 73 before Amon Tobin's set.
- Seeing the Wrens live for the first time, and then seeing the Wrens live for the second time - it was even better, which I didn't imagine was possible.
- Seeing Wire live for the 17th anniversary of Lee's Palace. Still one of the louder things I've ever heard.
- Seeing the Constantines live after being a little disappointed in their second album - their show in the Trasheteria was a total (re)conversion experience.

Five Artists You Think More People Should Listen To
Teenage Fanclub
The Constantines

Top Five Albums You Must Hear From Start to Finish
Superchunk - Incidental Music 1991-95
Television - The Blow-Up (Live)
Prolapse - The Italian Flag
King Cobb Steelie - Junior Relaxer
Readymade - The Dramatic Balanced By

(I went for sprawl there, so I may be placing more of an emphasis on "Start to Finish" than was intended)

Top Five Musical Heroes
David Bowie
David Byrne
The Wrens (yes, ALL OF THEM)
Joe Strummer
Bry Webb

Top Five Rock Lit Books that Should Be Made Into Movies
The Creation Records Story: My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry for the Prize by David Cavanagh
Flesh Guitar by Geoff Nicholson

I don't actually read (as) many books about music (as I should). That Creation book is so massive you'd need to make a trilogy out of it, though.

Top Five Musical Quotations Made In Song
- Weezer's homage to Public Enemy in "El Scorcho"
- John K. Samson singing "Oh you've got blue eyes, oh you've got green eyes, oh you've got grey eyes" at the end of "Wellington's Wednesdays" (from New Order's immortal "Temptation")
- The Thin Lizzy lyrical reference/guitar lick in Belle & Sebastian's "I'm A Cuckoo"
- The bit in the Primal Scream-assisted "Rock The Shack" where the guitars briefly go all "Shoot Speed Kill Light" on you (the song's not great, yeah, but I like that bit)
- Armand Van Helden's use of the "Cars" riff on "Kootchy"

The Constantines' Rod Stewart reference on "Young Offenders" would have made it, but Seb used that one.

And to add my own category:

Top Five Great Overlooked Songs by Otherwise Underwhelming Acts (covers strongly discouraged)
"English Fire" - Bush
"Winners" - Deadsy
"Letters To God" - Box Car Racer
"Movies" - Alien Ant Farm
"Far Away" - Tinstar


Follow up

Tom Ewing over at Freaky Trigger is on a roll: He's got an excellent post up today following on one of the posts I linked to recently.



I quote this week's Popbitch:

"The Fall are on Jools Holland's show next week. Mark E Smith is the only artist in the history of the show to have a clause in his contract inserted to state that Jools will not play boogie-woogie piano over any of his songs."



While digging out my old Constantines records, I happened upon a fondly remembered blast from the same period of my life: The Sympathy Girls' self-titled, metal-adorned CD-R EP. The band, if it ever was one, was one of the guys who runs Die! Venom records (not sure which) singing and playing guitar and a few other people people doing a few other things. The EP is six songs in ten minutes and is nearly subliminal, but it's good stuff, particularly "Speakext" (the closest thing to a "song" you get). I saw them once more after seeing them in the basement of the Constantines' house and this time they had a guy with a keyboard and a drummer (... I think) and they were even better, but as far as I know nothing else ever came out. I'm really fucking glad the CD-R didn't get lost in a move or anything.


Tiger Bear Wolf

Well, that was disappointing. I like Derek Miller, but we often disagree and this is one of those cases. I admit his line about "[making] the debut record the Constantines narrowly missed" got my goat, but I'd already heard the record once, and it hadn't done much for me then. I've listened 4-5 more times since just to give it a fighting chance, but... nope.

I mean, how can a two-minute song like "Wrong Lens, Wrong Film" seem so long? Yes, it's a dizzying array of different guitar parts they've got stacked in there, but I never get the feeling they're doing anything with it all. This is the record the Constantines missed if they were simultaneously more impacted on by electric blooze and DC hardcore, but for the former I prefer George Thorogood or Buddy Guy (seriously, have you heard Sweet Tea? "Baby Please Don't Leave Me" is a flat-out stunner, especially coming right after "Done Got Old", and "I Gotta Try You Girl", well...) and for the latter: Like Nick Southall, the only Fugazi album I really like is The Argument (although I'm not quite as err, intense about it as he is). Plus, for reasons that hve nothing to do with Tiger Bear Wolf, I recently had occasion to listen to The Constantines again, and you know what? It ain't missing anything. The whole thing is solid, but I have yet to hear anything as affecting as "St. You" from most of their contemporaries and "Young Offenders" remains one of Those Songs that precious few bands get to have (and look at their second album - they've got at least one more of Those Songs in "On To You", and a bunch more candidates).

"The Rats" is about the only place this album works for me, and I'm not sure why; partly because I can hear what Derek says about the guitars for once, but if it's different from the rest of the music here it's in a very miniscule way. Tiger Bear Wolf is simultaneously tiring in its frenzy and boring in its ceaselessness, which is a neat trick to pull off, I suppose. What I love about the Constantines that elevates them ever so slightly for me over their many contemporaries is their bleeding, romantic heart as exemplified by Bry Webb and his voice and his lyrics (but certainly lived by the rest of the band, as well), the kind of commitment and promise that led my dad to once telephone me from a music festival at midnight to say that he'd just seen them live and they did indeed "fucking rock". That they are quieter than Tiger Bear Wolf (although only "quiet" in such relative terms) is actually I think laudable; maybe my discontent with this album is summed up by the fact that the Cons could make an album full of lower-fi "National Hum"s if they wanted to, but I seriously doubt if this band has any "On To You"s in them.

Oh, and the Constantines are better than post-Girls Can Tell Spoon too, while I'm on the topic. Shine A Light (still the review of mine I'm most embarrassed by, fact fans!) may not be as... consistent as Kill The Moonlight, but with the exception of "Vittorio E" and maybe "Small Stakes", "Paper Tiger" and "Jonathan Fisk" if I'm feeling generous, it's better.

Thursday, May 12, 2005 

To: Walmart

Re: The ads that equate limiting store size to Nazi book burnings

Making big stores and/or having big stores to shop in are not "constitutional freedoms" that are being "infringed". If I ever manage to locate the human being responsible for this, I will sodomize him or her or them with a baseball bat.

A wooden one.

Hopefully there will be splinters.

Of course, this comes after Walmart donated nearly $300,000 (US!) to the cause of rejecting the proposition that would, Heaven forfend, limit the size of "big box" stores. Alexis Johnson, a local attorney, has it right:

"I think America's due now to revisit the necessity and vitality of allowing campaign contributions from entities that don't vote."

Walmart, meanwhile, says it "is adamantly opposed to any ordinance that would restrict consumer choice." And furthermore, it wasn't them who made the billboards, just somebody on their side. You know, the side that's funded with their money? So they're totally blameless. Of course.

And (even) more distressingly, does anyone else on this goddamned continent see a problem with the elevation of something as banal as "consumer choice" into some sort of moral good? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?


"My personal savior is Batman"

Good lead story at The Onion today - and not just because I hate Scientology.


The shift from "Sith" to "Shit" isn't clever, I know...

To follow up on my earlier post about Star Wars: I hear the new movie sucks, too. Go Dale Peck.


The next President?

Jeb Bush may believe in "absolute truth" (which is scary enough), but couple that with his willingness to attempt a reverse Schiavo on a little girl who, while brain damaged, has a brain and can talk and think.

Even worse, why the fuck am I reading this in the Moscow goddamned Times? Why had I not heard of this before? Why isn't this getting a fraction of the press Terri "I can neither think nor speak" Schiavo got?


Jedi are creepy

I'm about, oh, six years late on this one, but go read David Brin on Star Wars. The whole thing is worth your time, but the page I've linked to stands alone and is magnificent, especially the second half.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 

Don't hide who you are

My review of the new Teenage Fanclub is up today at Stylus.



Feel free to try these hilarious hoaxes yourself, you might wind up with some money. Or something.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 

"Zone of death"

So apparantly there is such a thing as a perfect crime, as long as you commit it in the area of the USA where the law doesn't exist. I enjoy the sense of humour of the law professor who wrote up a paper on it:

"Say that you are in the Idaho portion of Yellowstone and you decide to spice up your vacation by going on a crime spree," Kalt writes in a forthcoming paper for the Georgetown Law Journal.

"You make some moonshine, you poach some wildlife, you strangle some people and steal their picnic baskets."

To steal a joke from the message board K frequents - Hey, Boo boo! Shouldn't it be "pic-i-nic baskets", though?


Reason #59068

When they post a quiz on band reunions, it's actually pretty good and not entirely obvious. I got 8 out of 10.


Reason #59067 the CBC is cooler than, say, CNN

Not only do they have a compelling article up about David Byrne's post-Talking Heads work, it's just just a critical blowjob. I think Scott's a bit harsh with the "fall of man" stuff, but it's still well written and worth your time.


Everything bad is good for you

The ever interesting Malcolm Gladwell writes on the Flynn principle, which I was thinking about blogging yesterday (and would have if it hadn't been at the subscription-requiring New York Times). I especially like the part where he points out that homework is often (not always) useless. There are definitely some lessons here for higher education, and much of this actually goes back to what Dr. Summerlee was talking to us about a few months ago.


Picture matching

Meme taken from John Scalzi, explanation here. You have to scroll down past my sidebar to see the image, though.

Low - "I Remember"


Rockism & reviews

Two excellent posts up at a couple of the Freaky Trigger blogs today; I pretty much agree with both, although in the latter case make sure you check out the two articles by Douglas Wolk that Tom links two; they are also outstanding, and the "rockism" one offers a fairly good & concise explanation of what the term sometimes means.


And the peasants rejoiced

New journal post up.

Monday, May 09, 2005 

Blast from the past

For some reason I've had the Verve's "Velvet Morning" from Urban Hymns in my head all afternoon. I got that album on the same birthday I received OK Computer on, and it's probably been at least as influential on my listening habits. I can understand why someone like Nick doesn't like it, but I heard it first and I actually like it better than A Northern Soul - to say nothing of A Storm In Heaven, which I no longer own but if it was remixed properly would be willing to try again. About the only UK spacerock album with curiously muted production I can still stand is Lazer Guided Melodies, and that only in the right mood.

But, Urban Hymns. I actually like the second half better, although there should be no gap and secret track after "Come On", and they could stand to lose "Neon Wilderness". I think I should listen to it again when I get home.


Not just but necessary

There's a wonderfully clear-eyed examination of the "heroic myths" of World War II over at the Boston Globe.



Today I go to town on Daft Punk's Homework.

Sunday, May 08, 2005 

Dream baby

Garrison Keillor makes me feel a little bit better about radio.

Friday, May 06, 2005 

Jesus plus nothing

Disturbingly compelling (compellingly disturbing?) Harper's article about a group called "The Family" that, well... let's just say it seems fitting that I just finished reading Illuminatus! and Discordia recently (Discordia is no longer free, which is a pity as it sounds like a lot of fun).


Ahh, materialism

The weather today is perfect - neither really hot nor cold, although a bit on the warm side, with a good breeze. On my way back from the post office - where I sent two CDs and one card to British Columbia, California and Ohio for a total of $3.80 - I stopped in at Macondo books and found a whole bunch of good stuff on sale used (but good condition) for half price. I got five of those nice new Philip K. Dick trade paperbacks (Confessions Of A Crap Artist, The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch, Solar Lottery, Clans Of The Alphane Moon and Eye In The Sky) and Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, all for about $60.


My Jesus forgives your Jesus

Excellent post by John Scalzi on the co-opting of Jesus into something small, petty and hateful. I imagine some Christians out there aready felt this way, but I also think Scalzi's right that non-Christians who nonetheless respect some of the man's teachings should do this.


Not bad

The UK elections went fairly well, I think, given that there was basically no way Blair was going to lose (and if he had, to who? Howard?). The key, I think, is that the Liberal Democrats made huge gains (highest number of seats since the 1920s) but Kennedy has said he won't be watering down their policies (like more taxes for the rich) in order to attract Tory voters, which is a nice change from, say, Labour.


Scarily perceptive

You know when somebody else writes something that so perfectly sums up something about you? It's cool, but kind of weird at the same time. Anthony Miccio manages to articulate here (in point 3) something I've been fumbling towards for years. The clever bastard.

Thursday, May 05, 2005 

I'd buy that book

The Onion AV Club has excerpts from the extensive liner notes Elvis Costello wrote for the recent reissues of his albums (of which I own The Year's Model and wouldn't mind a few more if they didn't cost so much). They mention that if you put them all together you get "the equivalent of a 100-page autobiography". I kind of wish Costello would get them all together and fill in the gaps and release that, actually.


Damnit, the duck is right!

Tony Esteve's Cigarro & Cerveja is my favorite webcomic discovery in quite some time; there are extensive (if hard to link to) archives, and they're all good, but this one in particular leapt out at me.


What the fuck?

Warren Ellis notes that Gonzales in America is going to crack down on obscenity. Here's the thing; Gonzales sez:

"Enforcement is absolutely necessary if we are going to protect citizens from unwanted exposure to obscene materials"

But I bet you (Canadian) dollars to donuts that he goes after citizens involved in wanted exposure to obscene materials. Go free speech!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005 


Kudos to Brazil for not giving up on a program that is successfully fighting AIDS in exchange for American dollars. As long as Bush's government continues to tie that money with demands that prostitutes not be treated and programs be abstinence-only, I hope more countries refuse them.


1000 words dept.

This story is interesting and definitely important, but check out the picture of the captured Al-Qaeda chief; what's with the stuff under his eyes? It makes the whole story take on a weird mythical tone, at least for me. I'm not sure if I can explain why. Great picture, in any case.



Yes, I really will do pretty much anything like this. Taken from Gord.

How many Keys are on your Keyring: 7
How many Key chains: 1
How many Key rings: 2
What Keys: Apartment door, apartment building front door, mail key, key for entry through front door at work, key to actually unlock same front door, key my sister copied for me that was supposed to be my dad's front door, but isn't, spare key to K's Jeep.
What Key chains: Red maple leaf "Canada" that goes with the Jeep key.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005 

3 things

John Rogers amplifies and clarifies his already excellent post I linked to yesterday.

Monday, May 02, 2005 

Stop nominating Frasier

John Rogers has a very, very on point post up about why the Democrats keep losing in the States.



The fine Canadian music site Cokemachineglow has a really great interview with Matthew Cooper (the guy who is Eluvium) up - I should probably start reading that site, when I have a little more free time.

More importantly - he did "Taken" with one instrument in real time? My mind, she is blown.


Bumper crop

I put up a new journal entry last night, and today you can also find me writing about Stylus' current Album of the Week. It's gooood.

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