Tuesday, January 31, 2006 

Nothing lasts

I have to resist the urge to link to every one of his posts, but mark k-punk's latest missive is especially interesting in the light of all those death-of-classical-music, death-of-jazz, death-of-rock type articles you see. It's struck me in my post-teen years (the teen years spent busily and futilely protesting that rock* is vital) that while these things aren't dead they're not really alive; an observation I never really said anything about, so once again I'm struck by someone else saying it in a way that makes me realise if I hadn't been so lazy I might have been on to something:

Cultures have vibrancy, piquancy only for a while. Lyric poetry, the novel, opera, jazz had their Time; there is no question of these cultures dying, they survive, but with their will-to-power diminished, their capacity to define a Time lost. No longer historic or existential, they become historical and aesthetic - lifestyle options not ways of life.

Still, better him than me - I wouldn't have put it half as well. The rest of the post is even better. It makes you (me) want to start a band, one that doesn't talk to the NME and doesn't accept awards and doesn't pretend to hate only acceptable bands and doesn't do a bunch of other half-articulated things.

*(for a particular value of "rock", obviously)


Categories and traits

Excellent piece by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker on pitbulls and profiling. It kind of reminds me of a conversation K and I had once about how you teach people. I'm trying to remember the terms I used, but basically there are two types of things you can try to pass on to someone to teach them. You can give them individual, focused rules (like the 46 traits the US Customs Service used to look for), or you can explain what you're trying to do and give them the rules they need to use to make their own decisions (like the 6 criteria those 46 traits were replaced with). The former teaches you how to respond to certain circumstances, and usually leaves people confused or doing the wrong thing when something else happens; the latter teaches you how to do something.

I'm pretty sure AI ties in here somewhere.


Roughing it

I've been meaning to sing the praises of BBC/The Open University's Rough Science for probably a couple of months now; Ben and I have only seen most of series 5 (on Zanzibar!) and now the beginnings of series 6 (in Colorado, of all places). But what a wonderful idea, and what a wonderful execution - sure, it's a reality show, of sorts, but it's mostly four or five brilliant people working together to see just how much crazily advanced stuff they can do with a couple of parts and their natural surroundings. The scientists are obviously having a lot of fun, and even when they're divided into groups the competition is friendly and spirited rather than spiteful and petty (you get the sense each group would much rather see both sides come up with something cool than anything else).

Plus, I have the sneaking suspicion it may be educational. And it's on TVO at 6:30 on Sundays, perfect for just before The Simpsons/Family Guy.

Monday, January 30, 2006 

Rejecting the religion of art

Michael Dirda on John Carey's What Good Are The Arts? - quite good, as usual.


Postal service conspiracies!

I'm pretty sure Jack will remember the fun we had speculating about rogue mail carriers - now T-Rex has his own spin on things.


Blotting out

So apparently McGill has come up with a "trauma pill". Good for them, and I hope it works the way it's intended to, but does anyone else see a horrible potential for misuse? Hopefully it's not that efficacious.



Uh... I think I just finished applying to grad school. Bizarre. Whenever I do these things last minute they're usually a huge hassle and I wind up just squeaking in under the wire, but I dropped everything off but the letters of reference (both profs have the forms and are sending them over ASAP) and the transcript (I have it on good authority intracampus mail should it get it there tomorrow) and I still have a few days to go!

Man, do I owe a couple of people beer, though.


13 Angels Standing Guard ‘Round The Side Of Your Bed

The newest edition of A Touching Display is up today; it gets a bit personal, but I like the result. Also today is the regular singles madness.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 

"We thought we were making it up"

While reading through Mark K-Punk's excellent piece on Batman Begins, some links have led me to something nearly as interesting as hauntology, and certainly closer to thoughts I've had in the past: Hyperstition.

[Edit: An excellent quotation from another link followed from the Hyperstition page: [R]especting the reality of non-actualities is essential when waging war in deeply virtualized environments: in spaces that teem with influential abstractions and other ghostly things. Just in case it wasn't already clear what this had to with Robert Anton Wilson and Grant Morrison.]



I'm hard at work trying to carve a nice 4000 word chunk out of my thesis for the grad school application, but the overriding feeling I get when reading it again is one of awesomeness. See, when I re-read old papers I tend to notice the things I should have said, errors I made, poorly wrought phrasing and so on. This one, though, I'm just reading and going "man, I am awesome, because Spinoza is awesome and I totally get him", which is probably unwarrented but is still a nice change. I really hope it gets me into the MA program. I'm particularly fond of footnote 39:

It is incorrect, however, to think that Spinoza says that we cannot see beyond the body, that we cannot have any sort of epistemological contact with other things. See Ethic, II, prop. 13-19. Spinoza’s point is not that mind is somehow “locked up” in a particular body and thus unable to “reach” other things, but rather that without body mind cannot perceive. This relates back to our essential embodiment, and is also an argument against Descartes and others’ conception of the mind as some sort of abstract, separate thing. Mind and body are two ways of conceiving of the same things, and although here the emphasis is placed on mind’s reliance on body, the opposite is equally true.

How much of a geek am I?

Saturday, January 28, 2006 

What ever happened

I think I just started applying to Guelph's MA program. I'm still a bit dazed. The whole process has to be done for next Wednesday. I've got letters of recommendation lined up, I just need transcripts, some sort of letter of intent and to clear up my writing sample (I will be using all/part of the Undergrad Thesis, on advice of Jeff).

I may not post much in the next little while. Pray for Mojo.

Thursday, January 26, 2006 

"The case for heroin"

Do you realise it's only been 50 years since they criminalized heroin in Britain?


If you want me I'll be sleeping in

The combination of "Glory Days"/"The Day After The Revolution"/"Like A Friend" at the end of Pulp's monumental, perfect* This Is Hardcore always absolutely guts me.

But in a good way. A good, hopeful way. Which is more than a little perverse for an album that also contains two of the most devastating depictions of pathological male usage of pornography ever heard in a rock album (the title track and "Seductive Barry") as well as the best song about knowing you're a horrible role model as a father ("A Little Soul") and a whole lot more besides. I'm pretty convinced Jarvis Cocker will never, ever best this one.

*(Yes, I went there. Yes, even "TV Movie". No, Different Class isn't better, although it's a fine album in its own right. No, they were not better before they were famous. Yes, it is one of the very few explicitly post-fame albums by anyone worth a damn.)



I admit to a great fondness for old Suicide Squad issues (which I used to buy from an antique store!), and I'm sad I never saw this - I already loved John Ostrander and Kim Yale's work, but knowing that they reference "Life During Wartime" makes me disproportionately happy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 

Low impact

Meme yanked from the mighty Tom Ewing, because it's the first good one I've seen in ages. I'm feeling sick tonight, so rather than writing I'm just bumming around reading and relaxing.

What are you listening to right now: Joy Division - "Disorder". The first time I heard Unknown Pleasures, everything on it except for "She's Lost Control" seemed really lacking compared to Closer (which I had already owned for years and still think is one of the best albums ever made). Subsequent listens have revealed something wholly different from the other album but probably almost as good.

Turn to your left, look; what do you see: My wall mounted CD shelves, filled to overflowing.

What is your favourite sandwich filling: It's hard to beat a nice pink slice of leftover roast beef, but I have a special place in my heart for a kind of ham called gammon (I think), which is drier than normal sliced ham and tastes a lot better.

What was the last film you saw; did you like it: Robocop, down at the bar. I love it, of course. I loved it when I was a kid, but seeing it again now actually made me want to buy it. The whole time I was watching it I was thinking "if they made this movie today, they would have done such a poorer job on it". It's not perfect, but you can tell it's trying to be a good film, and that ups the quality level significantly. See also: the first Mad Max, Assault On Precinct 13, Night Of The Living Dead, etc, etc.

Tell me one song-or-album/book/film to check out: Sweet Billy Pilgrim, We Just Did What Happened And No-One Came. You can tell you really love an album when you can't quite imagine no-one else disliking it, even if it's not really their sort of thing.

Tell me one thing that means the world to you: Like Tom I will take "thing" for "object"; saying it means the world is a bit much, but the first thing that came to mind when I read this question was the small framed picture of my paternal grandparents I have in my room.

Where would you like to be right now: I'd love to visit Scotland again, or go to mainland Europe.

Cats or dogs or kill them both: Cats. By a significant margin.

What's the best compliment you've ever had (Post without context): I'm tempted to say the time a bunch of girls (including my girlfriend at the time) decided that I had the best ass out of a bunch of guys, or the time Todd Burns said he teared up a little at something I submitted to him, but really it was my Dad's reaction to the piece I wrote for the Ontarion when Joe Strummer died.


Work radio dept.

So the tracers are currently listening to a station that just played a trance version of Coldplay's "Talk".

I'm a little weirded out.


Trains of Winnipeg

I think I mayhave seen one of Clive Holden's short films in a museum or gallery once. I'd certainly like to see the collected short films now.


Just can't help believing, though believing sees me cursed

You really should be listening to Johnny Boy right now.

(One thing Jeff doesn't mention in an excellent review - the Mean Streets references in "Johnny Boy Theme" are great)


"Voting that is neither ritualistic nor random"

I've had my doubts about compulsory voting, but this very good article in the Globe & Mail (co-written by a friend of Jack's) has convinced me pretty thoroughly.


They always come in twos

My review of the newest Cave In album is up today, along with the 19th episode of A Touching Display. I especially like the opening combination on this one.


News flashes

"The support [the Conservatives] gained is not support for radical change."

"Results suggest a rift between urban, rural voters."

I think my reaction is roughly the same as Senator Palpatine's.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 

Don't blame me, I voted Green

Part of me definitely wants to drive Ontario with Chumbawamba's "Amnesia" blaring, asking people "Do you suffer from long term memory loss?"

On the other hand, Harper's minority is probably fucked six ways from Sunday, and quickly too; if the Liberals and the NDP can stop squabbling, they have easily enough votes to shut down the Conservatives unless they start hopping into bed with the Bloc. And I doubt that will happen much, for three reasons:

1. Other than hating the Liberals, the Tories and the Bloc really don't have that much in common
2. The tradeoffs Harper would have to make, especially any move towards another referendum or the like, would be surefire political death for him
3. Come on, the guy practically taunted the whole party with its federal ineffectiveness. Will they want to go along now?

Still, I'd be feeling a lot better right now if, say, Peter McKay was the Conservative leader.

Monday, January 23, 2006 

New and improved

This week I take my first shot at writing blurbs for the new, Voltron-like Singles Jukebox.

Sunday, January 22, 2006 

I am bright and young and gifted in my autobiography

Or, how I spent my weekend.

The family members who are living through the same thing as I am, many of them more intimately than I have to/can, may not want to read the above right now.

Friday, January 20, 2006 

"Some days I'm not necessarily proud of myself"

I think it's safe to say most Canadians would find Jon Stewart's take on our election pretty goddamn golden. I haven't laughed that hard in a while. This must be what it's like for Americans to watch his show most of the time!

Thursday, January 19, 2006 


It's a wiki, so grain of salt and all that (actually, it's the internet, so you should already be wary - no, let's be honest, it's information, you should never take its truth for granted), but wikiquote has a pretty good Bill Hicks page. A personal favourite:

They lie about marijuana. Tell you pot-smoking makes you unmotivated. Lie! When you're high, you can do everything you normally do, just as well. You just realize that it's not worth the fucking effort. There is a difference.



First Lou Rawls, now Wilson Pickett. These are big losses, of course, but I normally don't say much about them because I don't really feel qualified to.



Hey, if I was a snake and they dropped that hamster into my living area, I'd probably befriend it too. Not only is he cute, he's kind of sinister looking.


Don't panic

Excellent, excellent article over at The Chronicle Of Higher Education pointing out how the pundits and media tend to blow things out of proportion (and all under the rubric of refuting the claim that the Republicans are now America's "permanent majority"). The fact is, the American people are less radical and ideologically extreme/split than certain people would have you believe, and although the massive instutional inertia of a government like America's (or Canada's) can be frustrating, it also tends to keep things from getting too out of hand. Worth it just for the brief mention in the middle of why one party controlling all branches of the American government isn't actually that effective or fearsome.


Feel good hits of January 18 2006

Kid606 - "Thank You For Being My Angel (Rev 1)"
Belle & Sebastian - "Your Cover's Blown"
Burdocks - "Werewolves"
Low - "Sunflower"
Ben Folds - "Landed"
Woodbine - "The Woods"
Rachel Stevens - "Dumb Dumb"
The Shins - "Mine's Not A High Horse"
Animal Collective - "Loch Raven"
Snow Patrol - "Gleaming Auction"


So tired

I am running behind on basically everything this morning, but I also have a review of the new record by Burdocks and a Stycast up.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 


Why is it that listening to Feels at work, even though I'm actually working while I'm doing it, feels thrillingly illicit?


Text geek

Why is it that I enjoy editing documents so much? I just got done updating the Tracing Polices & Procedures (editing for grammar, clarity, minor policy changes, etc, etc) and it was the most fun I've had at work for weeks. I blame the Ontarion Board of Directors.


"You can be a complete asshole, just stay within the law"

We don't get Adult Swim up here, so I missed Seth McFarlane's introduction to the show that got Family Guy cancelled the first time around. Stick around until the end for some fine mocking of the milquetoast notion of "tolerance".


I was right

Shatner cannot be stopped.


What a well made world

My Seconds piece on Wire's "Blessed State", completing a trilogy begun here and continued here, is up today.


Some of your friends' countries may already be this fucked

So Harper is claiming we shouldn't worry because even if he wins he won't have absolute power (only in Canada, and yet it makes me feel worse, not better), Martin is appearing on TV to plead for our votes and attacking the NDP for screwing everything up, Layton can't even think of an example of Liberal corruption, and it looks like we're headed for a Conservative majority (see the "Poll Tracker").

This is a man who wants to give families $100/month for child care (if you think that's enough, you've never had a kid or you're rich, in which case why are we giving you money?), who to quote Jack Layton wants "to increase income taxes on people with low incomes so that [he] can pay for a cut in the GST". We headed for the Mulroney/Harris years again, it feels like, and if you think that's a good idea you were either not paying attention or rich during those years.

I'd ask what the hell people are thinking (and that email Gord responded to that I posted is, I'm afraid, what most of them are), but I'm afraid that's what happens with a two party system when people get fed up with one party. It probably won't be as horrific as I'm afraid of - we've always been a moderate country in many ways (and it's not conservatism I object to, by any means - it's extremism), and although we've broadly followed American political trends we've never gone as far in any direction as they tend to.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 

I've been missing out/Hauntology

Wow. Mark K-Punk has, in one post, turned "Hauntology" from something I'd dimly heard and wondered about to something I feel I might get obsessed with fairly quickly. His work over the past few days has been generally exemplary, but in this one he sets out what it actually is ("all recordings are ghosts" isn't a bad starting point), some resonances and references, and enough fascinating material to last anyone for a career or a life. The posts he links to through images are particularly interesting, especially the two on Sapphire & Steel - although I've read enough about The Stone Tape to never, ever watch it, and I recall in connection with it reading about some BBC fake-real ghost "documentary" whose name I can't place but that reading about alone shook me so badly I couldn't bear to be alone for hours.

I'm particularly susceptible to that sort of ghost story, which explains part of my interest, but not all. When you look at the Weird* that I like, not all of it connects directly to hauntology (Dick, The Invisibles and thus Illuminatus!, The Prisoner), but even that stuff carries some of the feel of the stuff that does (Lovecraft, Dr. Who, the Sapphire & Steel stuff, Borges ("Borges & I" is all about the hauntology, and he was one of the best at bringing it explicitly to the page as opposed to screen or speaker), that Caretaker "record", even old doo wop). I can't explain why this stuff is so fascinating, at least not right now, but if you read the post complete with all of the picture links and at least some of the text, you'll hopefully agree with me.

*(placeholder term because I can't think of an actually accurate descriptor)


Denny Crane

How on earth did I wind up enjoying Boston Legal so much? Didn't I swear undying hatred towards David E. Kelley a while back? Isn't James Spader perfect (seriously, the first episode you see he'll seem like a one-note pompous jackass, but give him a few hours and he's the most likeable guy on the show, and not in an "everyone else is insufferable" kind of way)? Doesn't Bergen actually make a fairly underwritten character actually interesting? Can Shatner ever be stopped?


Odd environments

On the way to the gym from work, the grass slid and crunched beneath my feet. If I'd had time and a camera and didn't hate walking on nearly frictionless surfaces, I probably could have gotten some good pictures - every blade of grass, like everything else that was outside, was covered in a film of ice.

When I went outside to go to work it looked like bare pavement after the rain. Even after I'd nearly fallen on my first step I couldn't see the ice. But it was there, and the area outside of my building was unsalted. It's not the most extreme weather we've had all winter (it never got really cold like it did yesterday), but it is the worst.

Walking to the gym, I tried to focus on the positive: At least there probably wouldn't be as many people as Monday. And there wasn't, but not by much. This is the first time I've had the money to buy my gym membership for more than one semester at a time, and so the first semester I've been able to go right away. Part of me wishes I hadn't - the place is clogged with people that I can only assume based on the past two years will stop coming soon, forgetting resolutions and the like. I've had to fight for equipment the last two times I've been in. I like my nice, peaceful, deserted summer gym.


Errors and distortions

My friend Gord must have gotten the same Conservative spam that I did; unlike me, he responds, and I hope anyone else who got that email from "Alan Robberstad" trying to convince us to vote for Harper via a mixture of prejudices and bad logic gets a chance to read it. Worth it for this site if nothing else (note that under each scare quote you have the option to read it in context - both valuable and a sign that the Liberals don't think the context improves them much).

(I'm still voting Green, or maybe NDP, mind you)


Rail God

Anacrusis is always interesting, often amazing; but today's entry, one of the author's series of fifty posts (I assume) called "The Union" that's been slowly moving across all the states, made me laugh out loud at the end. Very well done, and like a lot of these pieces you wish you could read more.


Fantastically exciting

Every so often the site design at Stylus gets a fresh scrubdown, and the results are always better than before; I liked the last one just fine, but the new version unveiled today is definitely better, both from a practical and visual point of view, I think.


The name not of the solution but of the challenge

Interesting review over at The Nation on a book about cosmopolitanism, an interesting possible middle path between relativism and what the reviewer calls liberalism (and one with a distinguished history).

Monday, January 16, 2006 


I think I've just stumbled upon one of my prejudices (or rather, a way to articulate that bias), via enjoying the excellent Burdocks album What We Do Is Secret (review on Stylus soon-ish) and Measles Mumps Rubella's great Fantastic Success (not out until February, sadly) and being left cold yet again by a band like Islands (i.e. ex-Unicorns).

I like indie rock, I have no problems with it. It's indie pop (which isn't really pop, mostly) that annoys the shit out of me on a regular basis.


I'd like to see that

Interesting trailer for a film called Brick. High school noir? Yes, please.



All else being equal, I'm slightly less likely to buy an album that comes in one of those pasted-together cardboard sleeves with a tray inlay than one in a proper jewel case (and I always prefer either to a cardboard sleeve that just has the CD fall out of one side). Are the cardboard ones better for the environment or something? Aesthetically and functionally they're a pain in the ass, but more and more bands seem to be using them.


Incredibly exciting

According to their website, not only are Constantines doing a split 12" with the Unintended (cool), and not only are they doing all Neil Young songs for their half (great), they're going to cover "Don't Be Denied" from Time Fades Away!

It's going to be hard, but I'm going to need to get a copy of that song, at least. The rest of the split would be nice, too.


Garnished with tasty files

Excellent, Mike Powell-approved stuff on Jack Nitzsche here.


Torture and 24

I haven't seen the show myself, but Slavoj Zizek's excoriation of it over at the Grauniad seems both painfully on point and yet not necessarily an argument for the cessation of the show. The people I know who watch it are responsible, intelligent adults who are not likely to have their attitudes towards torture changed by a thriller - but you have to wonder about any kids watching.


Science is a process, not a bunch of facts

Orac has an excellent post up about the distinctions between textbook science and frontier science. This is the sort of information that makes the news make more sense.


I don't care cause I'm by myself

Up in the loft again, updating returned mail, listening to Belle & Sebastian on my iPod. Suddenly I feel kind of stereotypical.

(oh well, at least I don't have hipster glasses)

Sunday, January 15, 2006 

Good guys, bad guys and explosions

Also, because I promised a few people I'd blog it: the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny.

Great fun, and as my brother can attest an excellent earworm remover.



Via Gord I hear of this new revolutionary table saw, which is apparently pretty idiot proof. It detects the "inherent electrical capacitance" of the human body (or even a hot dog, as the videos on the site show), and rams a block of aluminum into the saw blade if the blade touches flesh. In practice, this means the blade stops dead and drops into the table in 1/200th of a second.

Which is really cool, but I'm concerned that if it won't work on hot dogs that means you wouldn't be able to use it on a zombie.



It's not as long as it once would have been, but it's always nice to see glenn mcdonald tackle the year in music (and in movies, too). I also find it kind of comforting that his top two (three?) was exactly what I expected.

And of course, almost as an aside he manages to get the best summation of Susumu Yokota's recent work in there too:

What hip-hop is to a pile of James Brown LPs, Symbol is to a hard-drive full of John Cage, Meredith Monk and everything Romantic that Naxos ever burned.


If the coins don't fit

I'm a bit behind on my reading (and everything else), but if you haven't seen it already here's a fairly entertaining defense of Judas. Of course, you really should read (or re-read) Borges' "Three Versions of Judas". I know I mention the guy's name a lot, but that's seriously one of his best stories (right up there with "The Lottery In Babylon" and "The Secret Miracle").

Friday, January 13, 2006 


Why is it that the cats kept quiet at night until the night before my first day on the job?

Speaking of which:


I am pleased to announce that Ian Mathers has accepted the position of
Tracing Clerk in Central Services. He will be starting this Friday,
January 13th. Many of you know Ian from his work in our Tracing
department and most recently from his time assisting in the Call Centre.

Ian will primarily be working an evening shift but during his training
period will be working days in the loft. Please join me in welcoming
Ian in his new position with AA&D.

Go me, I guess. Work is awesome (especially for my bank account, and especially after half a month vacation).

And yes, I am currently in "the loft".

Thursday, January 12, 2006 

Double shift

My review of the Gomez live album is up, as well as some shorter things in the Rubber Room.

I'm still on vacation and (more importantly) have a guest, so posting will probably continue to be sporadic until, say, next week. I'm sure you're all doing fine.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 

That's what bad news is all about

The new A.R.E. Weapons disc is, to no-one's surprise, not very good.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 

Adventures in post-minimalism

Brad Shoup, because he is an excellent human being, has provided me with both halves of the now out of print Sinking Of The Titanic/Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet LP. I'm not sure when I'll get around to listening to them yet, but I'm anxious to do so - the former ever since I heard Aphex Twin's mix of part of the work (found here) and the latter ever since Scott McKeating brought it to my attention.


Extreme temporal parochialism

Very interesting post up on Do You See? about time travel and madelaines and the like which is fostered by an even more interesting post over on k-punk (which I never started reading, because.... hmm. Maybe I should start?) about the same thing. Vital stuff in both the k-punk and FT posts, and in the comments to the FT post.

(Also via k-punk, the best thing ever written on Unknown Pleasures, ever. I think I have to go dig out my copy again now.)


"That's how I got into country music"

A new A Touching Display up for your downloading and listening pleasure. Someone actually says its their favourite Stycast in the comment, which of course makes me happy beyond words. Random internet person likes it; maybe you will too?

Monday, January 09, 2006 


So in the US it's now illegal to annoy someone over the internet, at least if you do it anonymously or pseudonymously. Which sounds kind of ridiculous and harmless at first, but the article points out quite well why it's in fact ridiculous and harmful.


Cleaning house

I take a stab at our Scraping the Barrel series, where I go through a bunch of promos that, good or bad, I didn't have 400 words worth of stuff to say about. It was fun to write, although more time consuming than most due to the sheer length of all the albums combined.


When you wake (you're still in a dream)

While tooling around various blogs before hitting the sack, I come upon this interesting little tidbit on Kevin Shields and hypnagogia. I kind of knew that was the environment Isn't Anything came out of, but it's still surprising, but that's one of the most bristlingly awake records I know of. Something about the fact (not mentioned by Mike but read by me somewhere) that Bilinda Butcher did some of her vocals right after being roused and that Shields was going on 2 hours of sleep a night makes perfect sense to me.


"Can of corn" is right out, though

Via Jason Gross' well-done if a bit lacking (ie no Stylus, except a mention in the intro) overview of music writing in 2005), we find this selection of terms we should never use. We will, of course - it's just too hard not to, and to fun to refer to things as "coruscating".


It's a deal, it's a steal

HMV had Pop Art on sale in its 2/$30 section. What makes this even better is that right on the sticker it admitted that if you bought it by itself they'd charge you $35 for it. I was tempted to buy the normally-$38 Echoes just to really get a deal, but they didn't actually have any other music I was sure I wanted (although I almost sprang for My Chemical Romance's first album). Instead I paired it with Anchorman.

Sunday, January 08, 2006 

Just don't call us "emo"

I'm more than a bit hesitant to talk about my own writing on any level above and beyond "here's something I wrote, I think it's swell"; I think we're all not necessarily the best judges of our own work and I'm petrified of claiming something about/for myself and having everyone else go "no, you're completely wrong". But then I remember that I've never really read others being self-reflective where I've had that reaction and I get over myself a little. Which is good, because John Cunningham has just posted something over on his blog about formalism vs. (uh, actually I don't know what to call the other side) that I hope will start some sort of discussion (I've got a haphazard but hopefully not totally incoherent comment up already).

I think I definitely tend to value and write about evocation over structure in music, especially when I feel passionately about it; my style may not be quite as poetic (or whatever you want to call it) as someone like Mike Powell's (and Mike has written quite well on his blog about the limits and problems as well as the advantages of that style) but I think (and I hope Mike would agree) that we both have a bit of a mystic bent in our approach to music. It's just that he writes more like one.

Sometimes I feel like there's a huge disjunct between my writing style (and it feels weird even calling it that, because from the inside there's never really a style; you just write stuff down and other people notice patterns) and the way I actually appreciate music, and I read someone else and wish I wrote more like them. But I write like I talk, as anyone who has ever sat down with me at a bar knows, and if meeting him was any indication, so does Mike (and Andrew, and Todd, and William, and so on).

And again, to paraphase Alfred Soto very loosely, I don't sound anything like Philip K. Dick either. Or Thomas Pynchon or Grant Morrison or anyone else I read/have read - I'm sure they've had some effect, but just because you love the way someone writes doesn't mean you sit down and try to change your style to reflect it. You just sit down and write what comes, and hopefully it's good. But it's not going to sound like anyone else if you're doing it right, no matter how much you'd like it to.

Saturday, January 07, 2006 

All wrong

The last thing this country needs right now is less taxes. I can understand Harper treating tax cuts like an end in themselves (although he's wrong), but the fact that Martin is effectively agreeing bugs the shit out of me.


Now I'm only falling apart

Now that's an interesting version of "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" (warning: ass cleavage).

(Link via the mighty SUKRAT)


That weird coldness that comes from boredom

Dom Passantino sums up many late nights in my first year residence room

Friday, January 06, 2006 

Strike anywhere

My internet connection was gone for most of the day, so I finally cleaned up that huge pile of books in the living room. The apartment looks much better.

At one point this evening, I realised I was walking around with a box of matches and my iPod in my pocket. I'm not sure why.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006 

What a well made world

My all-Wire Stycast is up for your downloading pleasure.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006 

“No, I’m Peter O’Toole”

Warren Ellis has just made me want to search out and watch Casino Royale.


Sky still blue dept.

Surprise, surprise: SUVS are no safer than cars in crashes for kids; in fact, if you're properly strapped in, they're actually slightly less safe.


"Atimetus got me pregnant"

Via the ever-wonderful Ryan North of Qwantz, here's an amazing page full of graffiti from Pompeii. A lot of it is pretty quotidian (although still interesting), but occasionally you get something extremely amusing/resonant:

We have wet the bed, host. I confess we have done wrong. If you want to know why, there was no chamber pot (on an inn room wall)

Theophilus, don’t perform oral sex on girls against the city wall like a dog

Lesbianus, you defecate and you write, ‘Hello, everyone!’ (on either a bar or a pottery shop)

Let everyone one in love come and see. I want to break Venus’ ribs with clubs and cripple the goddess’ loins. If she can strike through my soft chest, then why can’t I smash her head with a club?


Mail call

Today my physical copy of Cadence Weapon's fine Breaking Kayfabe arrived thanks to the good graces of Derek Miller, as well as my Amazon/Caiman-ordered copy of Congotronics I. Like pretty much everyone I know of who has heard/liked/wrote about it, I'm a little conflicted due to all the issues about various important political/sociological things that arise from its context (especially the tokenism stuff, hoo boy); but I'm going to ignore all that and just luxuriate in the sound of those homemade amplifiers and the three likembes (especially on "Paradiso", aka "the one where they have a standard drum set brought in"); I really like the sounds present on this CD, and everything else is (interesting, vital, but secondary) analysis.


Sleep spent

So my attempt to reset my sleeping pattern worked partially; I did indeed go to bed (relatively) early, around two (which is when I'd like to be getting to sleep), but when I awoke briefly at ten I was so tired I turned off my alarm (set for eleven). So I slept in until one. But I think I'll still be able to get to bed at a reasonable time tonight.

I'm in limbo until I hear about the second job - they don't need me to come in until they know what they're paying me for, which is fine with me. A bit of an actual vacation - I love going home and everything, but it'll be nice to just putter around the apartment for a few days. We spent practically all of yesterday afternoon playing video games!



Unfortunately the mighty New York London Paris Munich is closing its doors and going away (justly so - if Tom's heart isn't in it any more, he shouldn't keep it going for the rest of us!). One silver lining though is Tom is getting back into Popular again; his entry today on "Eleanor Rigby"/"Yellow Submarine" is both a fine summation of why the project is so fascinating as well as some excellent writing on one of the best Beatles singles (I think what he says about "Rigby", in particular, is pretty definitive).


Back to business

The holidays are over and Stylus is updating normally again; today I've got an On Second Thought up about Spiritualized's Pure Phase.

Monday, January 02, 2006 

"That billboard had two sides, and both of them hurt equally."

Even after hearing how much I would like it from about a dozen people, I still found The 40 Year-Old Virgin to be just about the most adorable thing ever.

It helped that even things like the teenage daughter throwing a tantrum and the de rigeur last minute fight between obviously meant to be happy couple sounded more real than most movies. I think it's probably ruined me for romantic comedies that aren't extremely well written for a few months.

Also, how weird is it to watch a movie where the guy lead finally penetrates a female and your response is "awwww"?

I have now been up 22 hours. I'm not as tired as I thought I'd be.


What's the worst thing I could say?

You should (have) be(en) following Edward O's top 100 singles over at his blog, but his blurb for "Helena" (number 23!) is worth reproduction in full:

Where the cognoscenti all think we should be listening to M.I.A., the kids proved that they were right all along by continuing to support hilarious, over-the-top, buffed-to-perfection moshercore classics with amazing hooks, bold theatrics and giddy self-deprecation that you can relate and wave your hair around to rather than the buzzing, distracting nags of the so-called “good” pop. In the face of a chorus so large it basically needs twice its running length just to contain its anthemic, self-hating, awe-inspiring power, not recognising a different kind of genius is just churlish. Helena has possibly the biggest chorus of the decade and, with its combination of decidedly unsubtle power-pop riffs, vaguely goth-cum-punk dress-up, pained seriousness in the studio and whimsy on the video, shows that My Chemical Romance understand that while your pain is serious and real, sometimes it’s kind of hilarious as well, and best conveyed with make-up, exaggerated facial expressions and exquisitely overdone histrionics. It must be an amazing time to be fifteen years old. Much, much better than cutting yourself.

Rarely are we blessed with a writer who sums up the appeal of a good band so succinctly.



The crossword I am doing just used "ween" as a word, with the clue being "'Pure Guava' band".

I'm not a Ween fan (haven't really heard anything by them), but that's kind of awesome.


"a different kind of unreadability"

Via Arts & Letters Daily, an extremely entertaing/informative review of three books of new "poetry". I put that in quotation marks only partly because Houlihan makes a pretty good case for most (all?) of this stuff not being language, let alone poetry.

For what it's worth, I like what she quotes of Baus, and especially what she does with it (although I think her example of a student who prefers her rearranged version of the student's poem - who has"simple ignorance about how to create a seemingly whole poem from a series of disparate lines, even though it was his own poem" is both telling and worrisome), I'm willing to admit Baus' similarity to the more gibberish end of someone like Grant Morrison may lay behind my enjoyment of the excerpts.

Scanlon, at least what we see in the review, reads like bullshit, and I do use that in the On Bullshit sense. Houlihan's observation in the midst of an attempted close reading that "[W]e have stopped reading this poem. There’s nothing about it in the first lines or the second or the third to gain our confidence that the organizing intelligence behind it is either organized or intelligent" seems accurate (although we are relying on examples she has chosen; on the other hand, I have no reason to doubt her choices).

As for Wolff, when I read the first excerpt in the review I actually like the first paragraph (stanza?). My mind sees at least some connections, albeit abstract/impressionistic ones, and I'm interested to see what comes next. And then, as with Scanlon, I hit a brick wall in the next section. There isn't any connection, not that I can discern, which leads me to think that what I liked about the first paragraph is illusory. Her second seems a bit better, especially when Houlihan gets into it. But, well, I'll let her speak for herself:

Even though I haven’t changed a word, or a line, only the order, it actually seems a tad more interesting this way, at least a thread of something is beginning to emerge—or am I just more engaged because I participated in it, however after-the-fact? Is it just because my projection into the Rorschach of this poem seems to me better because it’s mine?

Perhaps I’ve hit on the new reading by chance—perhaps this is what we used to call
revising. It’s what we used to expect the poet to do. Perhaps poets like Wolff are engaging the reader through active participation, inviting the reader, with their “drafts” and strewn fragments, to come on in—be with the creator, pick up a pen, see what you can do! ... Don’t make the poet do all the work, then stand back and criticize! In fact, I can envision a “book” that is actually a collection of magnetized words and phrases that the reader can stick to a surface, move around at whim—oh wait. We already have that. It’s called magnet poetry.



At roughly 5:10 am, I finally got to bed, thinking to myself that I really needed to start getting up earlier and going to bed earlier.

Fifteen minutes later, discovering I wasn't falling asleep, I decided to pull an all-nighter. I may nap later, around 9 in the morning or so, but mostly I'm just staying up. I may watch The 40 Year-Old Virgin finally, or see how much Borges I can get through, or just generally get caught up.

Ben's sleeping though, so I won't be cleaning the apartment or anything. Pity.

Sunday, January 01, 2006 

Into the new year again

Awake at 3 pm: Check
Headache: Check
Fond, fuzzy memories of last night: Check
Regular January first hearing of Six By Seven's "New Year": Check
Complete absence of resolutions: Check
No real plans for today, aside from a little writing: Check

I hope everyone else had at least as good a time as I did last night. There's a few things happening online (hey, Girls Are Pretty has finally been redesigned!), but mostly you should just spend today slumping around contentedly and eating good food. Maybe watch a little TV later on.



We (Ben, Lila and I) just spent an hour watching the infomercials for the 70's Music Explosion box set from Time Life. At first we were making fun of it, and of Barry Williams, but soon we realised the sheer volume of tunes on it. "I'm Not In Love"! "It Never Rains In Southern California"! "Le Freak"! "Billy, Don't Be A Hero"! "Let Your Love Flow"! "Rock Me Gently"! "Rhinestone Cowboy"! "Everybody Plays The Fool"! "Rich Girl"! "The Night Chicago Died"!

Yes, we're drunk, but I guarantee I'll remember it as being just as awesome tomorrow. We only barely managed to restrain ourselves from ordering it.

Sober update: Yep, all that music still strikes me as pretty awesome. The box set is massively overpriced, but the selection is mostly faultless. I kind of wish "Easy (Like Sunday Morning)" was there, though.

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