Wednesday, August 31, 2005 


The "Comics" links have been updated; a couple of new ones and the "return" of some old ones because their RSS feeds weren't working. Sleep now.


Feel good hits of the 31st August

Special "mostly retro" edition.

01. "President Gas" - The Psychedelic Furs
02. "Tomorrow Never Knows" - The Chameleons UK
03. "Bring On The Dancing Horses" - Echo & The Bunnymen
04. "Regret" - New Order*
05. "Ghost Rider" - Suicide
06. "The Spectacular Commodity" - Glenn Branca
07. "She" - Green Day
08. "She's Got Spies" - Super Furry Animals
09. "Hard To Love A Man" - Magnolia Electric Co
10. "Closing Time" - Leonard Cohen

*Republic is so, so underrated.

(As usual, blame this guy)


Muscle death

Sometime over the course of the two episodes I watched last night, particularly the fairly structurally interesting one where House lectures a class on diagnostic medicine, I realised that House is my favourite current TV Drama. And not just because of Hugh Laurie, either. If not for Arrested Development, I could say it's my current favourite TV show period. For the first time in literally years I'm actually looking forward to new episodes of something.


You're next

This is easily the most bitter, cynical thing I've read in months.



Excellent review of a new book about past anti-vaccination movements. It's inevitable the author would bring up recent events near the end, but she does it well.


City gone

I have no idea whether Eric Burns is (intentionally or not) exaggerating things, but either way that's a terrifying little piece of writing.

(CBC suggests he's at least close.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 


Good to see that Anthony is back, but what - no comments?


Nasty, brutish and short dept.

It's not just that the looting is objectionable (although it is), it's that the reasons given are always so flimsy.


They're spreading...

It's probably a little sad that I think this is such a neat idea.


Love explosion

I plead for a reconsideration of Weezer's Maladroit over at Stylus today.

Monday, August 29, 2005 

Go Eric Roberts!

This week at Stylus we have the esteemable Andrew Unterberger on the MTV VMAs, to highly entertaining effect. Ben and I caught MC Hammer's return (and hadn't been aware they were this night, or even this season, until we did), but mostly watched Family Guy instead. And if for some reason you need yet more (and more flippant) coverage, Matthew at Fluxblog has you covered.



My review of Wintersleep's new album is up at Stylus.


"A glorious bastard"

I'm not normally much for that trend in non-fiction books that tries to trace the history of a food or a commodity, but this book, on curry, sounds fascinating.

Sunday, August 28, 2005 

The rockism of reading

Interesting article at the Guardian asking why liking to read is any more laudable than liking to shop, or cook, or play football. And by a bookworm, to boot.

Friday, August 26, 2005 

From the same spot

Why I love John Rogers (emphasis mine):

I'm not generically anti-war. I'm actually a rather fervent interventionist. Sometimes you need to give peace a chance, and sadly sometimes you actually do need to beat the plowshares back into Bradley Fighting Plows. I fully supported Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan -- my main bitch with the last being that we needed to stay there and do it right, not bugger off and leave it unfinished. I think we should be in Darfur. With the right alliance and leadership in place, one could sweet talk me into invading North Korea. (Yep, that's the sound of my friends' jaws dropping)

My main problem with the IraqWar2 always was that it was obviously going to be a brutal reconstruction, and
nobody seemed to be talking about that. I'm not against armed intervention; I'm against armed intervention by people who I suspect will fuck it up. Badly.

A-fucking-men. (Or should I say Ra-fucking-men?)



I'm not much for organized religion, but this one really isn't. Maybe I'll convert.



So wrongheaded.



Mostly posting to note that the singles are up again; but as I was listening to Chris Whitley's Hotel Vast Horizon and I wanted to remember something I said about it I also looked up my review. And damn, I know this is egotistical, but why can't I write like that all the time? It's not flawless, but most of it is (in retrospect) really solid. I think it may have had to do with the amount of free time I used to have, but I also think that review was about a third draft, which is normal even now.


Hitchens vs. Stewart

Sorry Alf (and others), but Hitch got demolished. Yeah, he was a little out of his element, but Stewart pointing out that there is in fact a principled middle ground between the two extremes that are all the absolutist Hitchens wants to see was pure gold even so. He came off well, and argued well, but faced with someone who insists on the existence of non-idiot leftists, Hitchens really has very little to say.

[Edit: It was a little weird to see Stewart going after Hitchens so much harder than, say, odious scumfuck Trent Lott the night previous, but that means I would have liked to see him be tougher on Lott, not easier on Hitchens]

Thursday, August 25, 2005 

"In my defence, the baby was being kind of a dick"

This story isn't actually amusing, but the headline makes me laugh far more than it probably should.

[title refers to this]



My review of Howl is up, although to be honest the finished product doesn't really reflect how much I like the record. Hint: I'm going to go out and buy it today.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005 


Ben was asking me what I thought of the new BRMC album, and although my review isn't up yet I will say I'm a lot closer to this take than this one.



There is apparently a vinyl copy of Neil Young's Time Fades Away waiting for me at the local record store. For $10. Now if I just had a turntable...



Since we've all been pronouncing Robert Moog's name wrong, the BBC sets us straight. People get my name wrong all the time, so I have more than a little sympathy for this sort of thing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005 

Good ol' Pat Robertson

Sure, he's calling for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, but that doesn't take away from his Godliness, right?

Despite all the professional writers being on strike, the CBC finds room for a little snark:

"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's The 700 Club. "We don't need another $200-billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he said of the democratically elected Chavez, who is a frequent critic of U.S. foreign policy.

Monday, August 22, 2005 

Play Minesweeper

You know, he's got a point.


Feel good hits of the 22nd August

01. "California Uber Alles" - Dead Kennedys
02. "The Line" - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
03. "Mexican Standoff" - Elbow
04. "The Shining Of Things" - David Sylvian
05. "The Boy Done Wrong Again" - Belle And Sebastian
06. "Aura Lee" - Aarktica
07. "AT&T" - Pavement
08. "Anything More" - Spiritualized
09. "An Open Letter To NYC" - Beastie Boys
10. "21 Reasons" - Frank Black & The Catholics

(format stolen from here)


Conflicting views

So Us Senator Chuck Hagel says that the US should get the hell out of Iraq, because (having not gone into it properly; Hagel is one of the guys who advocated taking more troops in in the first place) all they're doing is destabilizing the region and turning it into something like Vietnam.

Senator Lindsay Graham, on the other hand, says that "US security is tied to success in Iraq". Which makes me want to smack him. Because he is either ignorant or lying, or in possession of facts that the US has never bothered sharing with its citizens.

But what's interesting is that they're both Republicans. One wonders if the smear machine is going to start being used on people like Hagel (and, of course, I have no idea where he stands on other important issues, so it's not as if I'm claiming he's some sort of saint).



Dr. Moog is dead. It's not often that you can say one person single-handedly changed the course of music - especially if they didn't play it - but Moog did.

Friday, August 19, 2005 


I'm listening to Human After All for the first time in months, and you know what? It sounds pretty fucking good. That's not something I expected.

Of course, I may be a sucker (I may not agree with Miccio in this instance, but damn he's entertaining).


Have License to Ill ready

Pretty good Photoshop Phriday over at Something Awful, notable for a higher-than-normal number of music references.



My new computer has come and is sitting at home waiting for me to get home and put it all together (software, not hardware-wise). My NEW COMPUTER is sitting at HOME, and I have to work until it's 4:30. And even then I'm going to get coffee with Katie or something, and tonight is the Gong Show...

But I'll have the weekend, I suppose. And Katie moves back to Boston soon, so I would like to see her.

Also, my new job is union, and our strike deadline is August 30th. But I've been told if we're willing to picket up to 20 hours/week, we'll get a decent amount of strike pay. So a quasi-vacation, then.



Up today: The latest Singles Going Steady and my newest Stycast.

Thursday, August 18, 2005 

Half measures

The first page of this intro to comics does the job well, but in the second things take a turn for the patronizing. If we're accepting that comics are a medium, like film or the novel or whatever, and that thus comics do not necessarily entail superheroes (and we should accept this, I'm not arguing otherwise), can we please stop making contemptuous generalizations about comics that happen to feature superheroes?

Either it's all worth defending and appreciating, at least to the extent of appreciating that others like it, or none of it is.

[NB that last statement applies to aesthetic matters, not necessarily other ones]


Plus, they're playing Super Smash Brothers

Thinkin' Lincoln is pretty cool, but if nothing else it's given me my new favourite Poophemism.

(It's "download some brownware", incidentally)


A little scattered

(Hopefully) charmingly shambolic journal entry written up tonight, in the usual place.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 

Deeper into bullshit

This is worth it for the Heidegger stuff alone, but the definitions of bullshit as opposed to lying actually sound quite useful. As the essay expands outwards into broader considerations of truth and bullshit it, miracle of miracles, actually remains both interesting and entertaining.


Neither nature nor nurture?

Fine article over at The Boston Globe on what might make people gay or straight. The writer doesn't hesitate to mention why the debate about this has important political/social ramifications either, which is a nice change. There's also a pretty decent overview of recent scientific studies on the issue.

There is one other thing I wish the article had covered, however. It discusses the "evolutionary paradox" of homosexuality - that is, the fact that gay people are much less likely to produce children using their own genetic material. This is (1) not a bad thing and (2) changing, but generally it holds, and from an evolutionary perspective it's a drawback; of course, humanity is so firmly established on the Earth that we don't exactly have to struggle to survive (not en masse, anyway). But link that to something like this:

Canadian researchers have consistently documented a "big-brother effect," finding that the chances of a boy being gay increase with each additional older brother he has.

Might it be that one of the reasons a person might be born homosexual is because evolutionarily speaking overpopulation is bad for us? That is, could this be a mild, evolutionarily adaptive curb on our constant reproduction in cases where there are too many people for the enviroment?

It's just a random idea that occurred while reading the article, and I don't think it says anything either good or bad about homosexuals, but it might be interesting to research more fully.


Sidebar action

The International Mixtapes post has been updated, now with some descriptions of the songs I've slung onto disc; both the project and myself took July off.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 

Intelligent falling

"Intelligent design" is just the tip of the iceberg, folks.


Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex

It's a little out of date, but this is still pretty funny.


Unreliable narrators

Surprisingly (and laudably) evenhanded review of the Karla Holmolka movie over at the on-strike CBC.


Leonard Cohen is broke

Does this mean we're going to see an album full of accounts of financial irregularities?

Because that might actually be kind of cool, if done right.


I think I want a hybrid

John Rogers: The only guy out there who can convince me to go for a Prius and make excellent, broader points about the public's relationship to science in the same post. It's a really nice piece of writing, go check it out (comments aren't half-bad either, at least so far).

Monday, August 15, 2005 

Radiantly uncertain

This article is ostensibly on Foucault and Islam, but it starts with an overview of the man's work that makes me want to read him. I know some of you will have done so already - anyone have some good starting points?


In the trunk of your car

Today's Girls Are Pretty entry is pretty awesome.


Everybody knows it hurts

A review of the Primary 5's debut album is up at Stylus.

Sunday, August 14, 2005 

I need a camera

So walking back home from the Bookshelf tonight after seeing The March Of The Penguins (highly recommended; they're such absurdly noble looking creatures, but the film really gives you an idea of what their lives are like), the sky above the Church of Our Lady was absolutely gorgeous. Blue and yellow with the weirdest washed-out, blurred look - as if the sky was actually a picture of the real sky when it was moving too fast for the camera to focus. I wish I had a huge poster of my view walking up MacDonell Street to hang on my wall or something.

Of course, the title of this post ignores two things: Who knows if the type of camera I'd have would be able to capture it properly, and even if I did own one, how likely is it that I would have had it with me?

No, what I really need is a head camera. Someone hurry up and invent one.

Saturday, August 13, 2005 

The right man at the right time

Hey, America could do worse.


Evil is not patient

glenn mcdonald has some harsh words for the latest Harry Potter, and although I didn't notice any of this at the time, he makes some pretty compelling points.


Saturday night

I am sitting at home with a bowl of cherries and a glass of ice water, listening to Parachutes (which it turns out is the only Coldplay album I actually like enough to own, which would have surprised the hell out of me a while ago) and quietly reading.

If you'd told me when I was 18 that this would be my idea of a fun night, or at least one of them, I think I would have thrown up my hands and despaired.

Friday, August 12, 2005 

The physics of dating

Interesting but possibly crazy story over at the BBC:

Richard Ecob adapted a system for modelling atoms in radioactive decay to investigate how we look for partners.

He found that "super daters", people who have many short relationships, have a good effect on others' lives.

This is because they break up weak couples, forcing their victims to find better relationships.


Singles going steadily

This week's edition is up.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 

For reference

Slate recently published a so-so article on singers who don't write their own songs, here - but what I'm interested in is this utterly horrific reaction.

I mean, it's bad enough he tries to do a knife job on the Crystals, but the whole thing together is just ugly and spiteful (not to mention inaccurate). I think this is the sort of thing that we tend to think we're past but, as you can see, most people aren't.


That was sudden

So today I went to work and was offered a new job. A better job. A possibly-permanent job.



Sentimental musings

I rattle on about the Weakerthans' "Aside" over here.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005 

I am a horrible person

For offering private congrats but not public ones to Stylus writers JT Ramsey and Justin Cober-Lake on their husband- and father-hood, respectively. Mike Powell shows me the light.


Waste of money?

The audiophiles are at it again - I use my computer and it's "low-grade computer speakers" to listen to music most of the time, and it sounds fine. The comparison to my stereo is very close, close enough that it doesn't effectively make a difference.

Surely by now we're not still hung up on ekeing out the best possible tiny percentile difference in sonic quality? Do I enjoy Twice Removed any less than Boutin just because I apparantly don't have the hardware to "[discover] the breadth and depth of the whispered nuances, the sudden rock-outs, and the silences that follow" therein? No, actually, I don't. I hear those things fine on the crappy $20 speakers that came with my PC.


Morbidly comforting

The thought that, at the end of a long life, you may just stop breathing in your sleep and never wake up isn't a cheery one - but if you've got to go, I can think of far worse ways, and so can you.


Free music (now with voice)

Today's Stycast features me finally figuring out how to work my microphone. And some excellent music, of course.


Love will come back again

At long last, a new journal entry. At the regular place.



Fred Clark puts what I've always said about Christian rock into actual coherent form, and does it in a far more knowledgable and erudite fashion than I've ever managed.

Monday, August 08, 2005 

The problem of Hitchens

Michael Kazin over at Dissent Magazine aptly sums up why it's both fun and discouraging to read him.



Who designed the packaging of Michael Nyman's (superb) soundtrack to The Piano, which I'm listening to at work today? Why, none other than Dave McKean, known to most of us geeks for his work with Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison et al.


The Dirty Dozen in space

I've never seen Blake's 7 before, but now I want to.


Teenagers in love

The Stylus Non-Definitive Guide to 50s Rock is up, with seven contributions from me.

Saturday, August 06, 2005 

A day late

This week's installment of Singles Going Steady went up on Friday, as per usual.

Thursday, August 04, 2005 

Songs for the night

Jesu - "Sun Day"
My Chemical Romance - "Cemetary Gates"
Blur - "Sing"
The Mountain Goats - "Dinu Lipatti's Bones"
Yo La Tengo - "Deeper Into Movies"
Junior Boys - "Last Exit"
Magnolia Electric Co - "Northstar Blues"


Cliff notes

Dr. David Thorpe explains "Trapped In The Closet" for you.


Disc skip

Listening to ...Endtroducing today at work, both "Mutual Slump" and "Organ Donor" got incredibly satisfying extended remixes thanks to the crappy radio here. It seemed almost purposeful - the song would dwell on a particular phrase for a minute or so before launching back into the actual melody. Kudos to the broken radio for actually doing something interesting for once.


Military intelligence

I was in the camp that this article refers to as "critics", but I think I have to revise my position about the atomic bombing of Japan at the end of WWII.


If you haven't evolved from apes...

John Rogers on Bush's ID announcement.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005 


I loved Oneida's Secret Wars, but I'm having real trouble with this year's The Wedding. The record feels very much of a piece, and there are a few songs I really, really love ("The Eiger", "Lavender", "Did I Die" and "August Morning Haze", plus a few I don't yet know by name) - so why does so much of the rest of it sound bland and dull?



It's not good for 11 year olds to throw stones, but this is ridiculous:

Police responded with three cars and a helicopter after the 11-year-old threw a stone at a group of boys who rode by on their bikes and pelted her and her brother with water balloons.

Maribel, who speaks little English, was read her rights twice in English before being detained.


During her five days in detention, Maribel was reportedly granted one 30-minute visit by her parents.

My brother got hit with a rock in the face when he was a kid and he also needed stitches. There's a crucial difference between the two cases (the kid who threw the stone that hit Ben wasn't aiming for him), but that difference doesn't warrant three police cars and a helicopter.

Insert "well, I'm glad they'd already taken care of all the crime in Fresno" comment here.


Good news

This is like one of those bizarre stories where everything goes right for a change.


It isn't even past

My essay on nostalgia is up at Stylus today. I think it went fairly well.


You wore a shirt of violent green

An intriguing article (fiction?) about Dan Rather, Donald Barthelme and "Kenneth, what is the frequency?" from an old Harper's.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005 

"I'm like God to these animals!"

Great Onion article this week on the possible existence of Karl Rove; but there's an extra bonus for those who read Something Awful:

McClellan reiterated his denial of Karl Rove's existence 33 times during the press conference. When pressed, he distributed a list of "real, actual political figures about whom I'd be happy to comment." The list included only President George W. Bush and Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta.



I'm greatly relieved to hear that there were no casualties in today's plane accident (not quite a crash) in Toronto. But one sentance from that article really sticks out:

At mid-afternoon Tuesday, a spokesperson with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority said lightning was causing technical problems with the airport's lightning-detection system. [emphasis mine]

Please tell me this system was installed by the cousin of a Liberal MP or something...


All shook up

Will Friedwald makes an interesting case for Elvis Presley not as the first great rock singer but the last great crooner in the tradition of Crosby, Sinatra et al.


Rick "Santorum" Santorum

Yet more reason this man needs to be voted out of public office. What a toolbox.

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About me

Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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imathers at gmail dot com

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