Friday, March 31, 2006 

False advertising

Today at Stylus I have a top ten up - songs that don't quite live up to their titles. It was fun to put together, although I'm sure there are tons of examples I didn't know about/forgot.

Thursday, March 30, 2006 

Suddenly I'm glad I don't own it yet

Penguin is starting a new "Deluxe Classics" line of some sort, which is cool enough, but how neat is it that many of the covers are by comic book artists, or that Frank Miller is doing Gravity's Rainbow, especially considering Pynchon himself requested Miller? That's pretty wacky/cool.


"You have no imagination whatsoever"

I shouldn't have to prove to people that Doctor Doom is awesome. But just in case, feast your eyes on this.


Honey, you're a prize and I'm a catch

Feel good hits of the 30th of March, 2006:

Mates Of State - "Fraud In The 80's"
Crooked Fingers - "New Drink For The Old Drunk"
Tamas Wells - "I'm Sorry That The Kitchen Is On Fire"
Coldplay - "In My Place"
Ghostface Killah - "Kilo"
Tricky - "Christiansands"
The Mountain Goats - "Old College Try"
Death Cab For Cutie - "I Will Follow You Into The Dark"
Stars - "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead"
Pavement - "Spit On A Stranger"


Booze time

I am massively tempted to buy the second shirt on this page.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 

Hesitant people

Via Warren Ellis:

One of the generals of the Argentine army said to the International Herald Tribune in 1977, “First we will kill terrorists. After that, we will kill collaborators. Later we will kill the supporters. And, finally, we will kill hesitant people.”


You will surely find this pleasing to your ears

I've been listening to Bring It Back by Mates Of State a lot at work recently, and as much as I like the songwriting, etc, etc, I've come to the conclusion that what the album really does for me is fulfill my love of buzzy organs. (See also "Ditherpop" by the Needles, "2/4" by Clinic, a million other songs I can't be bothered to remember) I literally can't get enough of that sound, and I imagine I'll wind up purchasing this album just for that reason.


Cross Europe Chart Challenge... OF DEATH!

Today, we do Sweden. Good fun, as always.


How long must you wait for it?

It's been months (a year?) since I touched my copy of A Rush Of Blood To The Head; my last listen was incredibly disappointing, even though I used to love the record, and I'd been kind of avoiding it ever since. That, coupled with my belated appreciation for the fragility of Parachutes (I have zero interest in X & Y) meant I was assuming I'd eventually be getting rid of A Rush Of Blood To The Head.

Well, at the prompting of someone else I brought the album into work today on my iPod (minus "Green Eyes", because really, why would I?) and I'm remembering how much I actually liked Chris Martin's voice before "Speed Of Sound" and "Talk" (and whatever other inescapable singles are coming our way); how much I go all mushy over "Warning Sign" and "The Scientist"; how much I really do love "A Whisper" (more than most actual Echo & The Bunnymen tracks, thanks). But mostly I'm realising for the first time, with the aid of hindsight, what a perfect balance between the bulk of Parachutes and the bulk of A Rush Of Blood To The Head "In My Place" achieves.

Media image aside, these guys have actually made some good records. I have little hope for the future, though.


Good day

I haven't smiled this much since the last time I was on drugs.

(NB. This says more about my level of giddiness than actual happiness/contentment. Still good stuff. Also, for the second night in a row iTunes has thrown up "Ambulance" by the Gloria Record as the last thing I listen to before bed - no idea where I got it from, but it sure is pretty.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 

"Nappy times"

Oh, god.


Into the great wide open

I would never do this, no matter how much you paid me.



So last night via the superbly timewasting chat function appended to Gmail, Mike Powell and I briefly talked about Espers' forthcoming Espers II, which was originally described to me as "Medieval folk + sludge", roughly, and coming off of the amazing Goslings album the word "sludge" carried more currency for me than it normally does, so I grabbed it from Mike and Derek Miller when time allowed.

It's much more folky than even their "Renaissance Faire" mentions would have led me to believe, but luckily it's also fantastic, not so much record as reverie, and with just enough psychedelic mud to keep things interesting. But what surprised me was Mike's contention that the male/female vocals on most of the tracks (particularly "Children Of Stone") reminded him of Low.

Now, I'm more than willing to admit that a large chunk of my reluctance to compare the vocals of Low to pretty much any other band comes from my intense, all-consuming love of their work; but to my ears the singers in Espers don't come even close to blending their voices the way Alan and Mimi do. And that's not because I've been listening to them for so much longer than I've been listening to Espers, because I remember being shocked by the sound when I first discovered Low. I can't express what they do, of course, but listen even to a song like "On The Edge Of", from the underrated The Great Destroyer record, and during the quiet bits... they're not singing harmony, they're not singing unison, they're doing something different. glenn mcdonald could tell you quite a lot about it (scroll down), and more poetically than I'm going to manage before going to work this morning, but the important thing is: When I listen to "Children Of Stone", as good as it is, I hear two people singing. When I listen to Low, I hear something else.


Massive Attack should have won

This week's singles, all present and accounted for, for your reading pleasure.

Monday, March 27, 2006 

Go screw

I don't really read Pitchfork, but I think they're striking just about the right tone on this news story about Morrissey's newfound hatred of Canada.

I can live without him playing this country, oddly enough, and could have even before this little rant.


Shakey dog

I feel kind of bad about loving Fishscale so much, because I really don't listen to that much rap and so feel like a complete poseur when I do like something, especially an album other critics seem to be going to comprehensively nuts about.

But fuck it - admittedly the only rap I actually, you know, own is a couple of Ghostface records, a Wu-Tang one, Nigga Please and Cadence Weapon's debut, but those records are all great. I'm ultimately fine about being a dilettante in that field, just a little abashed about it.



So New Zealand plans to vaccinate the kiwis if the bird flu comes near. That's kind of neat. Now go look at that picture of a kiwi bird.


Head on

We should all adore Julian Cope.


Speak whenever you hear this tone

I'm kind of beginning to think of Monday as "my day" at the Stycast, and this Monday is no exception. Tune in (by which I mean download) for the best Stiff Little Fingers song, a totally random song someone sent me, and Two Lone Swordsmen.

Also today, my review of J Mascis' metal album. It's actually a band called Witch, but he plays drums, and it's a pretty awesome record.

Sunday, March 26, 2006 

Best race ever

It does brighten my mood a little to read about the 23rd annual World Championship Pooh-sticks race, over in England.


Plausible deniability

Anyone else think Rahman is going to be killed by a mob now that he's been set free? Yeah, nice "solution" there, Afghanistan.

Saturday, March 25, 2006 

Name withheld to protect the drunk

So last night was the first time I've ever had to call someone a cab (she got home fine, although I discover via MSN today that she managed to skin her knees and possibly break a toe while trying to put on pyjamas, which is kind of hilarious), and so many people got ridiculous last night that the fact I was sober by the time I went to bed at 1(!) means I am now better off than pretty much anyone. Except I woke up at 9 in the morning and don't seem to be getting back to sleep. And Ben just left to go to Oakville with Dad, which would be kind of surreal enough (considering he feels like, and I quote "a bag of hammers" and injured his thumb in the pit last night) except that Dad also had our share of the insurance money. Normally free money is awesome, but I don't exactly feel good about this particular batch.

Also, if Knucklehead play your town, go see them. Good stuff.

Friday, March 24, 2006 

I am a total geek

Also on SA today, in their "pretentious video games" Photoshop Phriday, a Borges reference (scroll down a little). As with the Onion thing I linked a few days ago, I am far, far too thrilled by this.


Suit on a skateboard

Something Awful may be a humour website, but something like today's update, by the possibly undervalued Zach Parsons, is just plain good writing. Like his take on cities:

The thing about living in a big city - and I assume this is true all over the world - is that you do have to possess a certain tolerance for the surreal. I'm not talking about naked cowboy or some dude painted like a robot, those guys aren't surreal in the least. They want to be noticed. Surreal is a bunch of guys passed out drunk underneath the trees in front of your apartment at 10 AM. It's some incredibly muscular guy screaming in a voice like the vocalist for Cannibal Corpse at a retarded woman in a wheelchair. Surreal is people being incredibly strange or creepy and not wanting you to notice.


Like a monkey with a miniature cymbal

So I woke up this morning at 9 so that I could go in to the gym and work early enough to get home early, making up for last Thursday. But when I got into the gym... no gym clothes. I'd taken them home for Ben to do with the laundry, and then promptly forgot to grab them this morning. Brilliant.

I just had lunch with Lisa, though, and between that, officially accepting grad school's offer of admission and a single, soothing gin and tonic with lunch I'm in a much better mood. Topical application of Hot Chip's "Over And Over" helped, too (the album is good, but the second half hasn't been doing much for me).

Thursday, March 23, 2006 

Relationships, hey hey hey

Feel good hits of the 23rd of March, 2006:

Beck - "Jack-Ass"
Radiohead - "Thinking About You"
Conjure One - "Extraordinary Way"*
Raising The Fawn - "The News"
Pavement - "Major Leagues"
The Delgados - "Everything Goes Around The Water"
Hefner - "The Science Fiction"
Dirty Three - "I Offered It Up To The Stars & The Night Sky"
Doves - "The Man Who Told Everything"
Tricky - "Bad Dream"

*(I may have initially given this a four, but so far this year it's one of the biggest growers for me. Not sure why I didn't like it then, or why I do now.)


Bits and pieces

Nothing big up on Stylus today, but I do have a couple of blurbs in the Rubber Room.


Burned, stabbed and mauled by a lion and a grizzly bear

Personally, I think this is the perfect way for them to get rid of the character of Chef. Mean spirited? It's South Park. do you really want puppies and sunshine?


Best news I've heard in a while

Those three hostages (two Canadians and a Briton) being held in Iraq for the past four months have been freed! CBC has more. It's a shame about the fourth hostage, of course, but at least the other three got out safely.


Dangerous Tandem Feeding Technique

I'll have some of what Josh is having, thanks.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 

If I was American, I'd give money to Planned Parenthood

South Dakota outlawing pretty much all abortion, ever, no exceptions (unless you're Christian, apparently - it's a transcript, we're not twisting his words!) is pretty rage-making. Nice to see the Oglala Sioux Tribe is doing something about it.


Black hand like Gavrilo

I am way too entertained by this.


I would never really know what to say until it's been said

I woke up this morning (hey, it's still morning, even if it's late) with "Everything Goes Around The Water" by the Delgados in my head. It's times like that I'm glad I listen to so much music, because it certainly makes stumbling out of bed and looking for breakfast more, I don't know, cinematic or something.

In something approaching actual news, today sees both my review of the new Milosh record and a Seconds piece on Interpol's "PDA".

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 

Kill your revolutionaries

This is easily the best review of V For Vendetta I've found, although I am in near-total disagreement with the final paragraph (Fight Club is better? Really?).

Of course, a lot of my disagreement with Rowles' conclusion (specifically this: "Where Fight Club and V ultimately diverge is where I have to respectfully jump off the Vendetta wagon, because Fincher ultimately rejects violence as a means to express dissatisfaction, while the Wachowski brothers seem to insist that death and fiery destruction are ideal weapons in the war against government oppression.") comes from a differing perspective on what I think the end of the movie and Evey's decision mean rather than a disagreement as to the uses and ultimate acceptability of violence as a political tool. The Mauser thing, if you will. I kind of feel like I want to explore this at K-punk-like lengths, but I'm not sure I'll find the time.

And of course note, as some of the commenters have, that Moore and Lloyd's original work does reject violence as anything other than (at very best) a temporary, desperate corrective; one of the more unfortunate changes to the plot/theme of the story in the movie (although like Rowles, I ultimately come down on the side of liking the movie, quite enthusiastically).


Rammstein = gay porn

I'm just sayin'.

Anyway, this week's singles column is up. We've got a new system in place (behind the scenes), and I'm pleased to note five of my blurbs made it in.



What a pleasent surprise to read about a well written, persuasive book on the evolutionary origins of belief (by an atheist, no less!) that is not vitriolic, not dismissive of others' religious experience. How sad that it is noteworthy to read of someone who accepts others' beliefs even when he doesn't share them.

Monday, March 20, 2006 

Great moments in dialogue

Joy just called me at work, and just as she was saying hi her cat attacked, resulting in the immortal line:

"Ow, fuck my leg, cat!"

This is actually the way she spoke it, although arguably not the way she meant it.

Also, the reason I like my boss is best summed up by the way she ended an email about the schedule for our department's meeting tomorrow with the line "Be aware I plan to revisit what I'm calling the Great Vision Statement Grammar Debate." Not only are we all such wonks we care about the phrasing of our, ahem, "Vision Statement", but she's willing to give the whole thing a faintly silly name.


Fascism is bad

The idea of people walking out of V For Vendetta because they object to its politics makes me far more gleeful than it should.


The woodland spring has put the darkness from your thinking

Feel good hits of the 20th of March, 2006:

Superchunk - "Throwing Things (Acoustic)"
Two Lone Swordsmen - "Kamanda's Response"
Cat Power - "I Found A Reason"
Low - "Will The Night"
David Gray - "Please Forgive Me"
Milosh - "It's Over"
The New Pornographers - "Sing Me Spanish Techno"
Belle & Sebastian - "The Boy Done Wrong Again"
Espers - "Dead Queen"
Massive Attack - "Safe From Harm"


That time of the week

It's the newest A Touching Display today; once again for mere minutes of downloading you get to hear some great music and me blathering on about... stuff. I'm actually in a much better mood than I was Thursday night when I made this one, but I think the music is pretty good.

Sunday, March 19, 2006 

We shall overcome

So go to The Observer's list of the 25 best music websites, and scroll down to number 20, and who do you see? Us.

Stylus was my favourite music review site before I started writing for it, and it still is today. It's nice to see a little recognition for the hard work of everyone from our esteemed EiC Todd Burns on down.


Fear of suffering

Best-record-store-in-Houston Kate linked to an astoundingly good article by Mary Gaitskill, who wrote the story Secretary was based on. It's mostly about the story/movie, and is quite good on there, but I want to highlight a more general paragraph:

But I believe that this apparent desire to be a victim cloaks an opposing dread--I believe that Americans are in fact profoundly, neurotically terrified of being victims, ever, in any way. This fear is conceivably one reason we just waged a grotesque and gratuitous "war" in Iraq--because Americans couldn't tolerate feeling like victims, even briefly. I think it is the reason every boob with a hangnail has been clogging the courts and haunting talk shows across the land telling his/her "story" and trying to get redress for the last twenty years. Whatever the suffering is, it's not to be endured, for God's sake, not felt and never, ever accepted. It's to be triumphed over. And because some things cannot be triumphed over unless they are first accepted and endured (indeed, some things cannot be triumphed over at all), the "story" must be told again and again in an endless pursuit of a happy ending. To be human is finally to be a loser, for we are all fated to lose our carefully constructed sense of self, our physical strength, our health, our precious dignity, and finally our lives. A refusal to tolerate this reality is a refusal to tolerate life, and art based on the empowering message and the positive image is part of this juvenile condition.

There's an acronym online, OTM, which stands for "On The Money" and indicates strong/forceful agreement with someone else's opinion, argumentation or reasoning. Gaitskill is incredibly OTM here. The modern person's relation to suffering is deeply, damagingly fucked up, and I think Gaitskill is absolutely on the right track here.

Saturday, March 18, 2006 

England prevails

(spoilers ahoy, if you care; if you liked the movie and would like some sense of how different the book is, this timeline will give you an idea)

V For Vendetta is one of my favourite books, full stop.

I was really worried about the movie, mostly for reasons mentioned below, but also just generally for how well they would adapt it. Well, it wasn't perfect (too many lumps of exposition, and a few bad changes) but it is awfully good. The most powerful part of the book to me is the prison/Valerie sequence and its aftermath, and the film does it surprisingly well (I don't mind admitting I got a bit teary around the time of "But for three years I had roses and did not apologize to anyone" - the letter is changed from the original, but it's still very powerful), although it goes off the rails a bit at afterwards.

Most of the changes made are to the background and allow the film to work as a film, and quite successfully; I can understand why Moore didn't want his name on it, but it's the closest thing to a great adaptation of his work we've yet seen. It, and V, are just as politically problematic as the book were, but thanks to the introduction of a bit of romance between V and Evey (easily the worst change) things are a bit off; I still hear a lot of echoes of Heiner Müller's Mauser (downloadable here, after a fashion), which I read and wrote about in second year and which had a huge impact on me, in V's choice of ending and the wisdom thereof. Note that the description I linked to says "As for the new man, we will never see his face." But Joy (who hasn't read the original) notes that thanks to the romance subtext V's choice can (and should, I'd argue) be viewed not in this sort of political/social light, but in an emotional one - at which point it becomes an act of cowardice.

That notwithstanding, there are plenty of wonderful moments (including a small host not in the comic - wait for Stephen Fry's TV show, it's brilliant), including two that will stick in my mind for quite a while; a montage centred around V's love of dominoes, and also Inspector Finch's LSD trip - the drug isn't mentioned at all in the movie, but the "vision" he recounts (which is presented perfectly - it's a very Grant Morrison moment, or maybe it's better to say it's a distillation of what Morrison took from Moore's work) is clearly the same as that part of the book. The movie is less English, less bleak, less literary; more obvious, more clear-cut, more direct. It is still powerful and worth seeing.


Economic Man does not exist

An excellent article on my primary problem with economics (and libertarianism, and pretty much conservative thought in general) - its insistence on the widespread existence of a certain kind of abstraction that never actually lives next door.


Happy St Patrick's Day!

(Yes, I know the Irish don't care. I am also aware I am not Irish myself. Your point?)

Drinking from 4 pm to just after midnight. Eight people in the apartment. Throwing tiny jam jars out of the side window. Irish Carbombs. Yelling (oh god, the yelling). Going downtown to a bar to see Mom and Wayne. A punk concert. A sink full of pint glasses. The Batwing. A grocery bag full of tiny liquor bottles.

When I walked back into the apartment just now, alone, all I could smell was booze. I'm pretty sure I'm going to die from that tomorrow.

Friday, March 17, 2006 


I note with no small amount of chagrin that if this CBC review of V For Vendetta is to be believed (and why wouldn't it be?), I have apparently been misinformed about the changes the script. So they apparently haven't switched to Nazis, which means pretty much all of my invective against the adaptation is misplaced. Boy if my face red. Still, it will make for a better movie (although it still beggars belief to say that the Wachowskis and one of their cronies could somehow make it as good as the source).

Thursday, March 16, 2006 

New crush

So I kind of didn't go to work today (I will make it up next week) and went to Kitchener instead; which was a lot of fun for a bunch of reasons, but I happened to wander into Encore Records (their site is nothing like the store), which is easily the best record store not in New York City I've ever been to. And it's been there the entire time I've been in Guelph. and I've never visited.

How good? They have Coil (though no Ape Of Naples - they were out). They had something like 15 records by Muslimgauze, fer chrissakes. They had Sleep's Dopesmoker for $18, which I promptly bought.

If this store was a person, I'd be following it around and trying to hit on it in really clumsy fashion. When my tax return comes in I'm going to figure out exactly how much I can afford to spend, and we're hitting Encore. It will be glorious.



I admit it, I just really love that word. And burnsauce. And meatsauce (or even mansauce, if you're nasty).

I-I guess I just really enjoy "sauce" as a suffix?


Tonight's results

So this time we came in second and second in the two rounds of Name That Tune; but it was also only Ben (not my brother, the other one) and Joy and myself. And with the exception of maybe four points combined (over forty questions) from the two of them combined, it was all me. The closest I've come to seeing if I can win musical trivia all on my lonesome.

Then I ran into a friend from the Philosophy program, as well as one of the attractive girls from my program who never said two words to me for five years, but now that we're both drunk decides to hit on me a little. Awesome. Yeah, that's exactly what I need right now. And yet I made sorta plans to meet the two of them next week. How much of a masochist am I, exactly?

Aaaaand I should probably stop writing to the internet now. Because I will probably find this kind of embarrassing tomorrow but won't erase this anyways, because that is an asinine thing to do. Stupid beer.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 

It's official

Well, today I got my official offer of acceptance into the Master of Philosophy degree here at the University of Guelph, so as soon as I send it back to the Graduate Program Services people I will be on the books as attending school again in the fall. They're even offering me a not-insignificant amount of funding, especially considering since I applied at the last minute I never got to apply for scholarships and bursaries and the like (I definitely will be for next semester/year, whichever is applicable). Working, going to school and probably TAing all at the same time; starting in September, I'm not likely to have a whole lot of free time.


Best possible result

Blame Rachel.

Modern, Cool Nerd
78 % Nerd, 56% Geek, 21% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.

Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!

Test is here, if you're curious.


Pull yourself together

Today on Stylus: My review of the excellent new Hefner best-of and this week's singles. I'm pleased to see via comments I've got one person on to Hefner already.


The hills have eyes

So I thought the remake was pretty excellent, considering

1. It's pretty faithful in tone to what I remember of the original, especially in the harrowing, disturbing first half(?) culminating in the attack on the family.
2. The score was great, quasi-Carpenter stuff
3. The opening credits were easily the most disturbing part of the movie, for me.
4. The original (and this) are my favourite kind of horror movie - more "horror" than "scary", ferociously effective and not pulling (m)any punches - but not quite the kind of sucking, malevolent sinkhole The Devil's Rejects was.
5. Despite some egregious uses of the Hero's Death Battle Exemption, the second half and its switch to "hunt and kill the bad guys" was fairly well executed and didn't totally ruin everything (as it threatened to for a while).

Easily the best horror movie I've seen in a significant stretch (although I have the suspicion it's still not quite as great as the original, although as I said to Ben and Joy, my experience of that movie is primarily in the form of a nightmare) and the credits had the preview for Silent Hill, which I am still hoping will be incredible.

Edit: Probably the best way to point out some of the differences is to quote a chunk of Nathan at Cold Fusion Video, from his excellent review of the original:

From even the most superficial standpoint, everything here works well as a horror-thriller. The Carter [the normal family] characters all have that certain ambiguity that, paradoxically, speaks of well-formed personalities behind what we see exhibited of them here (as opposed to the single-trait cliches that populate most horror movies in strict ratios). The build-up, while slow, is inexorable, and though the budget is low, the premise is such that the stripped-down, spartan production values reinforce the stranded suburbanites' plight. Even the bare-bones cinematography is a plus; the desert is shot with an oppressive character completely at odds with the austere mystique we've come to expect from a cinematic heritage of Westerns that dwelled lovingly on its arid beauty.

Even acknowledging everything I've said, these are not grounds for rating a movie a classic. But a movie is indeed a classic when it's successful both on a surface level (a suspense story about a normal family versus psychos) and deeper levels (explorations of the role of socialization in civilization, and subtle comparisons and contrasts between our two main families).

Some of that (even the bit about well-formed personalities, I think) applies to the remake, but the second paragraph is almost wholly missing from this version. It's similar to when I recently saw Robocop again and was astounded at how good and complex a film it is, for a movie about a robotic cop. I think the problem is these days if you're a director who wants to do something more complex and nuanced economics doesn't force you to necessarily work in genre film, and that is to genre film's disadvantage.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 


I have been doing data entry for too long - just now I loaded a new person into the software we use, and as per normal my eyes flickered over to the bar that displays their affiliation ("Alumni", "Student", that sort of thing). And although it said "Parent" as it always does for these files, for a second I could have sweared it said "Pirate".


Why should we look back?

My Seconds piece on DJ Spooky & The Freight Elevator Quartet's fine, unheralded File Under Futurism record is up today.


Chocolate salty balls

On the one hand, Isaac Hayes is utterly within his rights to be offended by South Park's take on religion, and to quit. On the other: When Matt Stone sounds reasonable compared to you, you're in trouble. And Hayes is probably, as other Scientologist celebrities have, letting someone else tell him what to do. And nobody has the right to remain pristinely unoffended, whether about religion or anything else, in a free society.


Plus, Walsingham

I'm a sucker for things called "The Gold Age", but that's not the only reason I'm looking forward to this (other reasons include a fondness for the first film, Cate Blanchett and Clive Owen).

Monday, March 13, 2006 

I'm not a materialist, but...

...I do wish I had more money. To buy what I am currently lusting after from Forced Exposure (which seems to be the cheapest place), I would need to have roughly $90 Canadian, before shipping but after the exchange (for 5 albums). Most of my tax return will go to my credit card, but I'm going to have to see if I can't splurge just a little tiny bit.


"slow-motion fade-to-black"

Okay, I really want to read this novel. Anyone out there have any first-hand experience with it?


Free, as in beer

Oh, if only this could happen to me. I'd buy bottled water then, for sure. Also, it's terribly sad to hear that beer prices in Norway are "some of the highest in the world".


Quarter century

The newest A Touching Display is up, marking a bit of a milestone. Also, if you like happiness and being happy and you haven't heard Johnny Boy yet, you really owe it to yourself to download this one, at least for the beginning. Although I think the rest is good too.


What differentiates art from conversation

It's been an, ahem, "busy" weekend (I am not an alcoholic), but things seem to be slowly going back to normal. I'm finally getting caught up on my reading, and stumbled upon this absolute gem from glenn mcdonald:

[I] am adding "Right Here in My Arms" to my not-formally-compiled but I'm sure pathetically short list of internally brilliant music videos. It's brilliant enough that I can tell you what's brilliant about it without you having seen it. Structurally it's mostly a performance video, staged inside and outside of a room whose walls are one-way mirrors transparent from the outside in. The band is inside the room. A girl is outside. She is watching the band, and sees them watching her back. They see and are watching nothing but themselves. She presses herself against her side of the glass, while Ville Valo writhes against his reflection. He doesn't know she's there, and she doesn't know he doesn't know... her contact is a delusion, and an artifice, but her experience of her contact is real.

Saturday, March 11, 2006 

Just what I need this morning

It's possible our universe could be assimilated (and effectively obliterated) by a 'larger' one. Great. I'm going to go back to hacking up my lungs now, thanks.

Friday, March 10, 2006 

I was drunk at the Funky Pickle

So the most purely fun show I've seen in quite a while has been our boy Cadence Weapon (and by "our" I mean Canada) at the E-Bar tonight. I got there early, he'd forgotten to put me on the guest list but the door guy wasn't an asshole and let me go track him down and he fixed things up. Spent the interval before his set talking about music, of course, and if nothing else convinces you the guy is on the right level, when I mentioned "Tell Me When To Go" he revealed he was making his DJ (Weez-L, pretty awesome in his own right, although a bit too enamored of Kool Keith) play it just before he hit the stage. So we're agreed the song is awesome.

Anyway, Rollie is pretty incredibly cool/nice/funny in person, and when he gets up on stage, well, I stand by what I said about his album deftly taking the best bits of both mainstream and underground rap without falling prey to pretty much any of their weaknesses, but dude can party live. Favourite moment was either when he had the DJ play the instrumental to Kraftwerk's "The Robots" as he speedrapped almost all of "Sharks" before playing the song "properly" (he also introed one of his songs by playing the instrumental of Interpol's "Roland" and singing his own version for a verse), or the line in one of his new songs ("House Music") about the CBC taping him only from the waist up. I guess you need some context on Cadence Weapon, the CBC and Ed Sullivan to find that as hilariously apt as I did, but trust me: It was gold. Anyway, his was just a short set opening for some band called We're Marching On that I didn't stay for because a. I've been sick the last couple of days b. at that point I had (and still have) a massive headache from standing to close to one of the speakers, although the music was fantastic enough I totally don't regret it c. they were apparently dancepunk. But Cadence Weapon were fantastic - Rollie's a fuckin' dynamo when he's up there, and there were so many great moments that at the time I thought "man, I'm totally going to mention this", but there were so many I've forgotten them all. Stuff like his surprise at the mass crowd approval when he announced he was going to play "Oliver Square", his heartfelt pleas for us to dance (complete not annoying, unlike when most acts do it) and his 'I'll high-five anyone in the front row policy'. Honestly, between that and the man's way with a thumbs-up, I was occasionally remembered of Andrew WK (and whatever else you want to say about Mr. WK, he burns it down live).

Anyway, great show, nice guy, I told him he has fans in Houston (and Kate/Brad/whoever, you need to see him; tour dates are here, and TO people should probably note he's playing with Hot Chip on the 15 at Lee's, which I imagine would be an incredible show. I won't stand so close to the speakers next time, but I'll definitely be catching him live whenever I get a chance to from now on.

Black Hand
Get In The Chair, Girl
Grim Fandango
Limited Edition
Oliver Square
House Music
Everyone Is Selling Me Something

Thursday, March 09, 2006 

Unsolicited praise is awesome

When I was eighteen, I wrote three reviews of Philip K. Dick novels for the then-primary PKd website (since then his estate has actually set up an official one, with Jason Koornick kindly and rightly letting them have the domain): Valis, The Man In The High Castle and Radio Free Albemuth. I have a hard time reading them these days (they've got some good moments, but it's hard to read anything I wrote six years ago without wincing), but every so often I'll get an email from someone about them. So far, every single one of these emails have been positive and appreciative. I just got another one yesterday, praising a couple of paragraphs in the Man In The High Castle one.

Man, that's a nice feeling.



Sometimes a work of art effects me so profoundly I actually physically feel it, deep in my chest. As if there's something behind my ribcage that is growing; it's not painful, not even uncomfortable, but it makes me walk around in a daze for a few hours. It's one of the most wonderful feelings I know.

Craig Thompson's Blankets, which I've just read in one unplanned session after a coworker loaned it to me, gives me that feeling.

The power just turned off for a second due to a thunderstorm outside. It's late and I should sleep, but I'm tempted to go for a short walk.


Wednesday is Drunk Night

Why do we keep going to a bar we hate?

(the answer, incidentally, is cheap beer)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006 


Any desire I have to listen to M83 is more than adequately fulfilled by listening to Ulrich Schnauss' A Strangely Isolated Place instead.

I like Prince's "Black Sweat" a little less now that I know it's his new single and not some old obscurity dragged from the vaults. I'm not sure why.

Love Tara by Eric's Trip is a nearly perfect record.

I really need to get off my ass and order in a copy of Out Hud's S.T.R.E.E.T.D.A.D. (does anyone know what if anything that stands for?). And one of these.

I am going to start my Master's degree in Philosophy at the University of Guelph this September. How nuts is that? Juggling school, my job and a TA position should be fun.


Music is magic

I'll admit, as precisely targetted at me as this would seem to be, I imagine I'll fall for it.


Train coming, I don't know its destination

Feel good hits of the 7th of March, 2006

(I wrote all this down during our marathon meeting yesterday, then forgot to post it! Also, big news today, but I'm waiting to post it until I talk to some people.)

Jens Lekman - "Maple Leaves (7' Version)"
Mint Royale featuring Lauren Laverne - "Don't Falter"
Iron & Wine - "Each Coming Night"
The Sycamores - "Tired Of Always Thinking Of Lies"*
Sugababes - "Overload"
Readymade - "Following A Typewriter To Sleep"
Alien Ant Farm - "Movies"**
Superchunk - "Ribbon"
Aereogramme - "Inkwell"

* Not a comment on the content of the meeting, I swear.
** I also swear this song is actually killer.


Hard work

Man, T-Rex sure is bossy.


The Taquito Moment

Excellent article on dating, or more accurately the human tendancy to rationalize, over at The Washington Post. Key moment:

The Taquito Moment comes to represent a moment of clarity, the thing you fasten onto later when explaining why you could never go out with that person again. So you broke up with a girl because of her arm hair? Fine. Love, like mayonnaise, is a texture thing. But maybe, on some essential level, the girl just didn't do it for you, because if she had, those would have been the arms of the girl you loved.

Deciding not to go out with someone because they like a certain kind of food is kind of like deciding not to like an album because of some seemingly insignificant bit of context. It's not that the minor issues aren't true and valid, it's that they're an intellectual explanation (and exploration) of a visceral reaction. That doesn't mean I want people to stop writing about the reasons we construct for liking/disliking music, of course (the process and the results can still be very interesting and make for good writing), but I think we should keep this in mind more often.


It's Tuesdays now

New singles, wherein I give out my first 10 of the year. Because if you don't like "Tell Me When To Go", we can no longer be friends*.

*(NB. Not actually true.)


Trying to forget

Ooh, new(ish) trailer for A Scanner Darkly. Some of the footage is left over from the first one, but still, A Scanner Darkly. Dude. Between this and the surprisingly great looking trailer for Silent Hill, I am actually kind of excited about scifi/horror/genre movies this year.


It begins

Oh, God:

A debate on whether Canadian troops should be in Afghanistan would put the troops in danger, and any attempt to pull them back would be a betrayal, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper.


He did not say why a debate in Canada would put soldiers at risk in Afghanistan, but he stressed it is "a very dangerous mission.

"It's not the intention of this government to question the particular commitment when our troops are in danger," he said. "Such a debate or such a lack of strength by any of the political parties in Canada will merely weaken the resolve of our troops and will even put our troops in even more danger."

I honestly feel like crying right now.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006 


So I've just gotten a couple of emails from Max of the Goslings today, thanking me for the review. Which is awfully nice, it's always cool when someone takes the time to say thanks - but what's really getting me is that he tells me after the review ran their website saw a marked increase in visitors, and they've sold a decent number of records over the past couple of days.

Now, my point here isn't self-aggrandizement (really!), it's that you have no idea how good it is to be able to give something back to a band that, admittedly I'm fairly new to, but who have given me an album I have been playing obsessively over the last few weeks. (I'd listen to it at work incessantly, except the people who share the room with me would never stand for it) And it's especially nice to do something for them without trying - the review wasn't really written with an eye to getting them more sales, because that sort of thing rarely occurs to me (and when it does, say with Readymade or Sweet Billy Pilgrim, there's never any evidence that it does any good). Based on Between The Dead and how gracious Max has been via email, they really do deserve all the exposure and sales they can handle or want.


Four and a half hours of sleep

Well, it's off to the second of two early-morning planning sessions. The only redeeming features of which are breakfast and lunch (both free). Here's hoping I don't die. In any case, my review of The M's is up today.

Monday, March 06, 2006 

The politics of film

Apropos of the discussion in the comments below, we have a provocative little piece over on A Grand Illusion (although not by Alfred Soto) about the Best Picture winner, and more importantly the Best Picture loser. Choice bits:

[A]s the post-Oscar dust settles, Crash "supporters"* will try to tell us that its aim was daring, that its message was powerful, and that its impact was immeasurable. They'll tell us it's the kind of film that will be felt for years to come. They will try to make us forget the uphill battle Brokeback Mountain faced, the social debate it sparked and its position as the only film nominated this year with a stake in cinematic history. As good and important as Crash's message was, it joins a long list of powerful films that deal with race relations in America...

We cannot know for sure if it was
Brokeback Mountain's theme that kept it from winning the best picture nod it, in my opinion, undoubtedly deserved, but if so, I can only marvel at the irony involved in Crash winning over Brokeback Mountain because Hollywood wasn't able to look past it's hidden prejudices.

*NB The quotation marks here refer to an argument Vanessa makes earlier on that some (not all) of the people rooting for Crash were doing so not so much out of a love for the movie as a dislike of Brokeback Mountain and what - or whatever - it represents. And it's worth noting that I have heard at work, just as Vanessa has, people saying things to the effect of "Thank God Crash beat Brokeback Mountain" - it really does seem as if who didn't win is more important to some (most?) than who did. Which isn't what we were talking about, but important to consider as well.


Dirty hands shape the keenest minds

Why didn't Universal Audio do better? All due respect to The Great Eastern, but both of the records the Delgados made after it were better, and this was one of the best of its year. None of which would really bug me, but they split up. Gah.



I'm mildly suspicious of those who claim to dislike Jules Verne, and in any case there's pretty good evidence that he deserves a thorough reappraisal. I'd love to read Will Of An Eccentric, among others - it sounds like a proto Solar Lottery or even "The Lottery In Babylon".


Indie fuxxor

So I got more excited about receiving the upcoming Hefner best of in the mail this morning than I have about mail in quite a while. And that's kind of surprising, given that I've just received an excellent mix from Jeff Worrell and a few other things. But Hefner are just one of those bands that I am not only ridiculously fond of but that is generally disparaged. As much as I think there are plenty of things wrong with what might be called the indie mindset, I don't think wonderful music should be shunned just because it happens to fall into that category. Looking at the track listing, this is about as good a best of as I could have hoped for (it's got "Another Better Friend"! And "Lee Remick"! And "Painting And Kissing"! And "When The Angels Play Their Drum Machines"! And "I Love Only You", fer chrissakes! No "Destroyed Cowboy Falls", but I'll live). Britain's Largest Small Band (1996-2002) deserve more than just a few snide jokes, but given that the compilation is on an even smaller label than Hefner were on for the duration, I'm afraid the re-evaluation will probably be limited to me writing about it in Stylus.

Oh dear, and this happens to be a day I'm wearing my Belle & Sebastian t-shirt, too. My credibility is totally shot, isn't it?


Hard at work

So this morning Stylus may not have a big weekly article up (our arch-nemesis Technical Difficulties has struck again), but I do have both a review of the really amazing Goslings record, and a new Stycast which features both my dulcet tones and a whole lotta sludge. That's right - last week was synthpop, this week is all Loop and Oneida and Flying Saucer Attack (and even the aforementioned Goslings).

Sunday, March 05, 2006 

So I just watched the Oscars....

Crash? Fucking Crash? As in, the-worst-of-the-nominees Crash?

The only thing that offsets my severe disappointment in the Academy is the fact that the Three 6 Mafia won an Oscar. As Stewart pointed out, that puts them one Oscar ahead of Scorsese.


Information spaces

Being being job is clearly good in some ways for glenn mcdonald, or at least for thos of us who read him; over at his blog he's had a series of fascinating posts about, for lack of a paragraph of description, the possible future of the internet. I don't always agree with him (just most of the time), but shouldn't more people be having this conversation?

(it starts roughly here, for future reference)


There is always room for one more custard pie

Excellent post over at Slacktivist on Orwell on Dickens, as well as Jon Stewart.


Clogging inboxes everywhere

Every so often spam throws up something interesting in its increasingly futile attempt to get past gmail's filters. For example, today I have an email with the subject line "afraid to answer the phone", which started thusly:

teenagers, for religion is not always an easy subject. Teens sometimes feel
that not all information . she had always taken care of before."I'm too old
to keep a dog," (20) she says to the dogcatcher as he is leaving with a
brown fice that showed

That's the first paragraph in total, with nothing added/removed/changed. Unfortunately from there it moves into a fairly basic and comprehensible spam about bogus debt relief. I was enjoying this first bit, though.


"We dance just as good as we walk"

So at the restaurant Dad and Catherine took Ben and I to for brunch (the only time I've had an omelet and roast beef on the same plate), at once point they went directly from Archie Bell & The Drells' "Tighten Up" to the Kinks' "All Day And All Of The Night". Why is it that I can hear that kind of thing in a restaurant, but not on the radio?

Also, Mark K-Punk is making me very, very excited about the new Junior Boys record. I'm pretty glad that in addition to getting the music he seems to get their Canadian-ness (or maybe Ontario-ness is more accurate). So This Is Goodbye sounds like it's going to be markedly better than their (great in places) debut.


Bizarrely immersive

If you're at all interested in AI, computer games, world building, evolution or a whole host of things tangentially related to the above, you really need to check out this video, essentially a demo with voice over for the game Spore (from the guy who brought you Sim City, Sim Earth, The Sims and so on - this game could be described as "Sim Life", or maybe "Sim Universe"). Yeah, it's 35 minutes long, but it's worth it (for the smooth jazz during the mating scenes, or the utterly mindboggling parts where Will Wright shows that you're not just playing on one city/continent/planet/galaxy alone).


“He was an uncomfortable man"

Fantastically interesting review of a new book at Edmund Wilson, the kind of guy who had a reach and talent most other critics (of anything) will always only ever dream of, up at The Times Literary Supplement.

Saturday, March 04, 2006 

Swapping your blood with formaldehyde

For the duration of Andrew Bird's "Fake Palindromes", I have to remind myself I'm not listening to Red House Painters on speed. I like it, but he sounds a hell of a lot like Kozelek for most of it.

Friday, March 03, 2006 

We live in cities now

John Rogers makes an important point about "Middle America".


The suck

Is Blogger being extremely slow for anyone else today? Or is this just some sort of time dilation brought on by too much curry last night and then staying up until 4 am listening to nothing but grindingly heavy psyche-rock?

Also, Brad's back with a lengthy post detailing (among other things) a sensation I'm all too familiar with.

Thursday, March 02, 2006 

Feel good hits of the 2nd of March, 2006

(special "I don't have a hangover!" edition)

The M's - "Future Women"
Johnny Boy - "Living In The City"
The Chameleons UK - "Mad Jack"
The Knife - "One Hit"
Luomo - "Tessio"*
Diefenbach - "Glorious"
Son House - "Preachin' Blues"
Stereolab - "K-Stars"
Pan.American - "Steel Stars"
Gorillaz - "Starshine"

*Vocalcity version


Why I love Warren Ellis

From one of his BAD SIGNAL emails:

"Alan [Moore] and I had a fundamental disagreement once. He felt that HP Lovecraft was the essential Western visionary of the 20th Century. I think it was Philip K Dick. I suspect some people discount Dick in the Mad Bastards League because the likes of Lovecraft and Blake made their art on the natural, while Dick was a notorious drug user. However, I think it's worth noting that in his later years a doctor told Dick that he had an unusually efficient liver that was processing out the amphetamines before they really got to work on him. Said Dick, who in many ways was not the smartest of guys, 'Oh, that explains why I like to take speed before I go to bed.'

I'm thinking a lot about Dick right now because, as confirmed a couple of days ago, he was living in the greater Los Angeles area (I can extend the ring around the city enough to include it) when he had his major sequence of visions and visitations that led him to the VALIS-related novels and his Exegesis. Visions of a vast active living intelligence system over LA? Information-rich pink lasers from space? That is certainly DESOLATION JONES territory, don't you think?"

Desolation Jones is awesome to begin with, and the idea that he'll be folding in stuff from Valis, the first Philip K. Dick novel I really read and one that continues to be a consumate mindfuck, pleases me to no end.

Plus I've always loved that story about his liver.


I am not an alcoholic

Who else do you know who can go to the bar, have four pints, go to another bar, win the first round of "Name That Tune" music trivia, drink all the free beer that results, play the second round and come in second, and still get to bed early enough to get eight hours of sleep before work?

No one, that's who.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006 

Makes the people come together

Did I really just hear Death From Above 1979 covering Madonna's "Music" on the radio at the gym this morning? It was good, even better than Local H doing "Toxic".

I'm not a huge fan of the original, definitely not Madonna's best single (that'd be "Frozen", and not the dance remix MuchMusic foisted on us, either), but I'd always wondered whether she was saying "Music makes the bourgeoisie and the rebel" or "Music makes the bourgeoisie wanna rebel". I hope it's the former, for a host of reason.


Refine my altitude

It's cool enough that Geeta Dayal is a great writer and used to work for Simon Reynolds during the writing of his excellent Rip It Up And Start Again book, but she got to interview Mike Thorne. And he played "Map Ref 41N 93W". Those who know how much I love Wire, and particularly 154, should be able to tell how much jealousy I'm feeling.


I drink it like coffee

I'm not really sure why Mom gave Ben and I a case of bottled water, apropos of nothing as far as I can tell. I mean, it's here so I'll drink it, and I appreciate the thought, but I don't buy that stuff on principle. It's paying money for something I get from my tap for free, and it wastes a lot of packaging.

Still, stick a couple of bottles in the fridge, that stuff is delicious. And good for you.

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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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