Saturday, September 30, 2006 


1. We bought a PVR yesterday (thanks to Aaron and Christa for giving us a ride to Rogers), so I will never again have to try and be home in the evening when House or Grey's Anatomy is on.

2. Saw Maximum RNR last night, for the second time - holy fucking shit do I love those guys. It's pathetic that the crowd was so small, but they play the same to 2 people or 200. The only reference I can even begin to grasp after seeing them is that they are probably the closest I will ever experience to seeing the Stooges live back in their heyday, and even then I don't think that's a good comparison because it makes Maximum RNR sound derivative or subsidiary. They're not. They're just one of the finest rock and roll bands working in Canada right now.

3. This article on Food TV (not just the network) is mostly just entertaining, but there's an interesting hyperstitional point buried in there:

[Julia Child] made people want to cook, often inspiring them with a single detail. To make one of those famous omelettes, for instance (WGBH produces a compilation DVD), Child recommends an extremely hot pan. Nobody knew that. The omelette is then distinguished by a duplex texture—slightly crusty on the outside (because the pan is so hot), custardy in the middle (because you flip it before it’s cooked through). “No one made omelettes then,” Morash said. “No one used garlic, except the Italians in the North End. Few people went to restaurants—only rich people, and the restaurants were formal and fussy. People cooked, everyone did, because you had to eat, but it was meat and potatoes. Even fish was exotic. It had a Friday stigma.”

I mean, I think it's pretty accepted that perception effects reality, but who out there has really considered the effect cooking shows dating all the way back to Julia Child has effected our eating habits? I'm not claiming that's the only factor affecting the change, but I think it's a bigger one than people tend to think it is.

And now, I get to work for the rest of the night. Everyone else I know is going out drinking.

Friday, September 29, 2006 

You really must watch this

The first five minutes are good. After that it kicks into overdrive.


A truly startled baby

Sometimes Ryan North just goes above and beyond the call of duty. The first three panels are so good I figured that'd be it, but the last three? Reader, I roffled.

Thursday, September 28, 2006 

It's not about fashion

Fantastic article from the Atlantic about glamour and superheroes. The first page had me thinking they kind of missed the point, but the second page more than makes up for it. Virginia Postrel nails how powerful and how important this stuff is (and no, we're not just talking about superheroes...), and it would probably surprise no-one who's still following this thread that glamour is pretty closely related to what I've been calling the weird, the uncanny, etc, etc.


Shove it

You know what's awesome? Your workplace redefining your job right from under your ass. I'm not getting fired or reduced hours or anything, but this gig just got a whole lot less easy to look forward to when I wake up in the morning. And if you don't like your job, what's the point?


The weird

Goddamn it, John Foxx has just articulated something important, something I've been edging around with the piece on "Into Temptation" and the commentary I've posted here:

I now think [Robot Monster]’s one of the best films I’ve ever seen, partly because it had no regard for plot or anything else recognizable as conventional cinema of the time. This of course made it an event of inestimable importance to me, because, as a child I took it all literally – swallowed it whole, like Alice’s potion.

And like that potion, it allowed entry to an unexpected universe. One which had unfathomable logic and laws which were endlessly flexible. A deeply exhilarating experience. I still dream sequences from it, or rather I seem to have permanently incorporated sections of it into my dream grammar.

Growing up with movies as a child and being subjected to them before I could understand the adult preoccupations and motivations involved in the plots, pitched me into conscripting these films as a personal grammar. I had no choice, so I ended up with this Lynchian reservoir of sequences that carried every dread and joy and everything in between.

These events are still imbued with unfathomable, inexplicable, tantalizing mystery, because I couldn’t really understand them at all. It was hallucinogenic and vivid, and provided me with an image bank and a gorgeous range of emotional tones I still haven’t managed to exhaust.

I've never seen that film, and of course it couldn't have the same effect on me now at 25 as it did on him as a child, but this is exactly what I was talking about. I tend to focus more on the way this kind of experience opens up the world (or a world) for you as a kid, but Foxx is quite right about the voraciousness of the child worldview, how able we are to take the weird as a starting point and build from there. Considering how interesting a guy he's turned out to be, though, I think Foxx is another argument for allowing kids access to the kind of thing that over-zealous parents tend to assume will damage them.

(There's also a fantastic bit further down in the interview about the "positive side, almost an enjoyment of longing and ache")

Wednesday, September 27, 2006 

Double duty

Today sees not only the customary Singles Jukebox Stycast, but also my Seconds piece on Elvis Costello's "Senior Service" which kind of follows on from one of my first Seconds, which I did on "Lipstick Vogue" years ago. I'm definitely in a bit of a Costello phase right now, for whatever reason; both This Year's Model and Armed Forces have stuck to my CD drive like glue.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006 


Is it sad that I'm kind of excited to find out that Kierkegaard once dedicated a copy of Either/Or to Hans Christian Andersen?

Also, how awesome is it that we still can't figure out how Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa?


Inspiration for dudes!

You know I try not to link to every Dinosaur Comic, because that would be boring, but the timing in today's just slays me. That last panel is divine.


Worse than Sandi Thom

Time again for the Singles Jukebox, although this time a couple of my blurbs didn't make it. I wasn't that impressed by DJ Webstar and Young B's "Chicken Noodle Soup" (4), but that's nothing compared to my sheer loathing of Lily Allen and Hinder (both richly deserved 0s).

Monday, September 25, 2006 

Mind is a razorblade

Every version of "Heartbeats" to date, via Iain. I had most of these already, but still - what a find!


I suppose I should have told you that I am on fire for you

Feel good hits of the 25th of September, 2006:

Elvis Costello - "Sleep Of The Just"
The Magnetic Fields - "If You Don't Cry"*
Joy Division - "The Kill"
Readymade - "Terminal Sounds At Night"
The Mountain Goats - "Wild Sage"
Kid606 - "Now I Wanna Be A Cowboy"
Low - "Sunshine"
Jason Molina - "Get Out Get Out Get Out"
The Cure - "Pictures Of You (Extended Dub Mix)"
The Beatles - "For No One"

*I had this song in my head when I awoke this morning. The weird thing is, it was a different version - one sung by Merritt and accompanied by string instruments. Listening to the real song now, it's quite obviously synth-pop sung by Claudia Gonson. Weird.

Sunday, September 24, 2006 

Many happy returns

So I've just gotten in from the wedding of Josh and Caitlin, two of my best friends from high school. I was their best man, and I still feel honoured that they asked me to be part of the wedding party. My legs hurt from dancing, I'm exhausted (and if not drunk, certainly recovering from it) and I'm going to go to bed. It was an amazing, beautiful wedding, and one I don't think anyone is going to forget any time soon. I'd wish them luck in their married life, but it's Josh and Caitlin... they don't need it. May you all eventually be as happy as they are tonight.

Oh, and I look awesome in a tuxedo.

Friday, September 22, 2006 

O Canada

The fifth part of Stylus' "Our Favourite Shop" article includes yours truly rambling on about a couple of my favourite places in Ontario. Now I'm off to the wedding.

Thursday, September 21, 2006 

Suicide prevention

Not trying to ruin your day or anything, so you probably shouldn't read this if you're in a good mood.


Virtual spectres

Fascinating interview of Kode9 (the guy who compiled Burial's fantastic debut) done by mark k-punk over at Fact. I think I need to hear "Sine of the Dub."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 

And when somebody asks if I'm ok, I don't know what to say

See the last time I posted? Yeah, I haven't slept since then. Since 9 am yesterday, actually. It's kind of like being drunk. My eyes keep unfocusing. I still have some things to do, but when I get home I am going to sleep the fuck out of the rest of the night.

But the Mountain Goats were amazing, and the rest of the night was pretty cool too. Also, today we have the Singles Jukebox Stycast.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006 

Still no MySpace

So, yeah, I have a livejournal now, to post on an academic community (all of us new MA students are getting together and trading notes). I don't expect to do much with it, but at least now I can comment on others' LJs without feeling kind of cowardly.



Anyone who knows me knows I don't smoke. I don't like smoking. But this is just very, very disturbing.

Murray Gibson, executive director of the Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance, applauded Globe's new policy.

"No one has a right to smoke, even in their own home. It's not an established right," he said Monday. about people's right to not be interfered with unnecessarily? I need to go find my copy of Mill's On Liberty.



Also, it's ITLAPD today. Never forget.

Mind you, I only talk like a pirate in person. Doing so on the internet would be silly.


And no friends in this town

It's Tuesday, so this must be the Singles Jukebox. It's the first time in convenient memory I've blurbed the top two songs, and as my score indicates I kind of wish the order was flipped, both are still fantastic songs (and it's certainly the first time in a while I could say that!).


Auspicious beginning

Luckily(?) I had to be up at 9 anyway, as I'm going in to work early today (because I'm going to see the motherfucking Mountain Goats in Toronto tonight!), so the jackhammers outside are only mildly annoying. It's a little surreal to turn on the tap just as they turn the water off, though. Plumbing emergency next door. They're going to let me know when it's back on. Hopefully in time for a shower.

Monday, September 18, 2006 


I like your style, kid.

(NB. Note that Wendel didn't harm any of the art, so I appreciate his cheekiness; if he'd been fucking around and destroying things, I'd feel very differently...)

Saturday, September 16, 2006 

The imp of the perverse

I don't think I've actually seen the sun for a week or so. It's awesome. My preferred sky/weather is overcast but not raining, thanks.

I'm pretty sure (since one of the records only came out a few weeks ago) I'm the only person in the world to walk out of a record store having bought both the Mountain Goats' fantastic Get Lonely and Green Day's International Superhits!

Also, "Sheila mathers". Heh.

Friday, September 15, 2006 

"I can respect the hell out of that."

I'm sure some of you have seen this before, and I'm normally more of a cat person, but: Dogblog. Kind of like Dinosaur comics, only with pictures of dogs. Heart-wrenchingly adorable, but never saccharine.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 

Puffball planet

I love you, universe. You're just so weird (and kind of cute, too, when you're not being terrifying).


Meat ...You're right in liking it

Courtesy of a Stylus buddy, we have this wondrous depiction of scary kids selling food. Scroll down a little though, and there are a couple of fantastic ads for, yes, meat.


Tissue a, tissue a

So with Aaron and Christa I watched the first series of Sapphire & Steel last night, after much anticipation; it was just as wonderful and creepy as I'd been hoping. Five more to go. I cannot recommend this series highly enough, as you know if you've read me gushing about it before. David McCallum and Joanna Lumley are both fantastic, the cinemetography and special effects and music are all fantastic and make more than the most out of very little money, and the pacing is excellent. There are bits (the very first episode, Steel's cavalier remark that "well, we sunk the real ship") that make me wonder if Grant Morrison used to love this series.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 

But they look like sneakers

Today we have the Singles Jukebox Stycast; I've been bereft of music all day as my iPod is at home resting after I spent hours polishing out a scratch and then wrestling an InvisibleShield onto it, which apparently necessitates a 24 rest for the machine as it bonds. Which is kind of annoying. Also, they get you to wipe off all fingerprints from the back of the iPod, of course, before putting it on, but the process is so messy and frustrating that naturally mine doesn't look nearly as pristine as their sample. Still: Smaller, less bulky, clearer and nigh unscratchable - I'll take some temporary frustration for that, thank you. If/when I get my next iPod though, I'm going to have to look into whether the Shieldzone people will install their product for you...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 

The feverish nightmares of popists

This week's singles are up today, with many a contribution from myself. Also, slightly elsewhere I've posted about "Heartbeats," usually by the Knife but also by some others, these days - if you haven't heard the choral version by Scala, whoo mama. Do you ever need to.

Monday, September 11, 2006 

For there are brighter sides to life

Thoughts on the first class of my graduate student career:

I am incapable of discussing Cartesian dualism without thinking of "Still Ill" by the Smiths.

Studying Spinoza with people who have never read him is going to be frustrating for at least a little while.

But Spinoza's philosophy is the only one I am aware of that, when I consider it deeply, I am forced to smile and am tempted to use the word "beauty" to describe.


Back to academia

I've had an excellent but quite busy weekend, as the dearth of posts indicates; today remains busy (I'm off to my first classes shortly) but I've got a review of the new Cyann & Ben and a Soulseeking column up at Stylus.

Friday, September 08, 2006 


So, I am fully aware that I have fanboyish tendancies. And this isn't exactly the most umprompted link I've ever gotten; I sent Mark the article in the first place, reminded him recently that he had said he was going to link it, and as you can see from his comment he's not a fan of Editors at all (which I can understand and expected, mind you) and so there's maybe a hint of disapproval in his comment, but still.... I got linked on k-punk.

My ambitions in this life are exceedingly modest, but that's one I can check off. I am crazy about that guy's writing.

And also, on a much less self-aggrandizing note, the same post has an utterly fascinating snippet of conversation between Jeremy Greenspan of the Junior Boys (whose new album I have finally come around to, as I had hoped I would) and John Foxx, ex- of Ultravox.


Still I've got a flash-bulb head

Feel good hits of the eighth of September, 2006:

Death In Vegas - "Scorpio Rising"
Bob Dylan - "Love Sick"
Jimi Hendrix - "Hey Joe"
The Strokes - "What Ever Happened?"
Six By Seven - "Don't Wanna Stop"
No Doubt - "Spiderwebs"
The Wedding Present - "Dallience"
Flying Saucer Attack - "Popul Vuh II"
Rachel Goswell - "Warm Summer Sun"
Bluebottle Kiss - "Scrub The Mist"

(Six By Seven being the soundtrack to my manic running about campus this afternoon, feeling great, getting even more done than I expected to)
(No Doubt being courtesy of the booth the student radio set up)
(The Wedding Present being in my head to commemorate finally getting a copy of Seamonsters! Thanks Kiernan!)


Interrupting sloth

Kiernan sent me this because it reminded her of Ben and I somehow. I agree. I think Ben would too, although naturally enough we'd differ on who would be doing the slapping...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006 


This story is about one step away from being in The Onion. This paragraph in particular:

"Takoda will come out and greet you as you come in to conduct your business in the credit union," branch manager Kerry Hendry said on Wednesday. "And if you allow her to, she will probably give you kisses as well."


Series vs stories

Steven Brust (one of my favourite authors ever, if we're keeping track) recently had his new novel Dzur reviewed over on BoingBoing (I've not read it yet; I own all of his other stuff in multi-volume collections, so I'm going to get this one out of the library and then buy it later, and hey, he's now (justly) a New York Times bestselling author, so I hope my delay won't hurt him too badly...), and as good as the review is, there's a bit that makes me think:

Instead of the denatured extruded fantasy product that you normally find in ten-book series of fat, meandering novels, Dzur manages to stay fresh and snappy and terribly likable, even after all these volumes.

Doctorow is right, in my opinion (and it helps that Brust's novels don't have huge, swollen page counts), but there's a more interesting point hidden in there, I think. Yes, technically all the Vlad novels are one story, but the difference between them and something like Robert Jordan or even George RR Martin's work is that it's not the literary equivalent of "decompressed storytelling" (the often misused technique currently intermittantly ruining comic books). It's not actually one huge story spread out over many books, it's many books about the same character, with many stories, some over-arching, some not. It's like the difference between something like the Sopranos and something like House (the season premiere of which was fantastic, by the way). There's a reason the Vlad books don't say on the cover "Book x of y of the blahblahblah series," the same way Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels* don't. The Vlad Taltos novels are not detective fiction, but there's a sort of anaolgy there; you just need to know it's another Spenser novel, and there will be some recurring plotlines but also a complete novel. It's not just part of a story, but it's not an isolated work either.

*(Steven Brust: "I adore the early Spenser novels. Early Autumn is my favorite. I think Teckla was the first book I wrote after getting into Robert B. Parker, and I think it shows." The difference is, Brust has Vlad's equivalent of Susan Silverman leaving town hurt more, because it's not resolved nearly as quickly or neatly, or possibly at all. Also, Brust describes the Vlad books as "a world created by Fritz Leiber, tropes created by Michael Moorcock, a voice stolen from Dashiel Hammet, and a style taken from Roger Zelazny," which is a terribly great way to describe them, I think.)


"like when they pulled up the coelacanth out of the ocean"

In my post about Crank my brother commented and posted a link to a review (of Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects) that is truly fine, even if I didn't like it as much Wellington did. I like it enough I didn't want to just bury it in the comments, so here we are. This is some really good stuff:

At no time does Zombie insult his audience. At no point does he assume we’re so stupid or morally listless we need our hands held or our consciences rebooted. He never apologizes for his characters, who are truly villainous, and yet he never lets our sympathies waver, either. You know who you’re rooting for and you know you don’t want to examine what that says about you and in the end, in the truly sublime ending of this film, it’s all made okay, you are forgiven for having had a good time and you get to go home.

And this guy writes zombie novels too. Cool.


You have to hang on to your childhood

My Seconds piece on Crowded House's "Into Temptation" is up today, and I think it turned out pretty well (love the graphic, as well). The first two original paragraphs were removed, and I can understand why; they're more than a little discursive, and I don't think the editor in question made the wrong decision or anything (after all, they edit - that's what they do!). I also don't think the piece suffers from it. I'm being careful to say all that, because I want to post those two paragraphs here. Not because I'm being petulant, or because I feel as if they're so amazing they simply need to be out there, but because when I mentioned this piece here a while back I said it would connect up to some stuff I was talking about at the time (see here), and at the beginning of the article is where that connection is most apparent. So here they are:

When you're a kid, you're too exposed. Most of us, blessed by good or at least uneventful childhoods, don't have the barriers in place we'll erect later as we get our hearts broken, learn more about the world, learn to trust ourselves and others less. As with people, so with art. You don't lose the capacity to fall for art, to be surprised and betrayed and redeemed by it, but those shocks lose a certain intimacy and intensity after the first couple of times. My life has been far more effected than I'm really comfortable with by the things I saw and read and listened to as a child that didn't quite make sense, that not only were saddening and terrifying and confusing but hinted darkly (intentionally or not) that there was more to the world than I imagined growing up warm and safe and loved, and most of it wasn't pleasant.

I go back to re-read or watch or listen to those things now and they're longer so discomfiting, mostly because they are comprehensible to me as an adult in a way they never could when I was a kid, coming upon them with little context and less idea of how to grapple with them. And these songs and books and TV shows weren't all obviously weird; some of them seem to me now and probably seemed to everyone else at the time wholly innocuous.

Also, I don't tend to link to others' content on Stylus because, really, where would I stop? But Alfred Soto has written his On Second Thought on Wire's 154 at least partially in response to my vocal and oft-stated love for the album, and while I don't agree with him in the slightest I cannot think of a more cogent and elegant argument to be made for his side than what he's written. I think Stylus' content is universally pretty incredible, but this was really above and beyond the call of duty.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 

Bits and pieces

It's been a long weekend, and now I have to get used to normality again - at least until next week, when school starts and I have to get used to that. For today, two things have gone up at Stylus that I had a hand in: The Singles Jukebox and our article on the Mercury Prize (where I for some reason thought the "What it is" section was just a place to put the record's title).


The more you try to erase me...

Saw Crank tonight with Aaron, Ben and Becky. I expected to see a fun, pulpy high concept action movie (and it was that, don't get me wrong), and hey, I like Jason Statham. What I saw was a return to the intelligence, verve and style of the great 70s genre films, movies that were smart without ever forgetting they were thrill rides, that wallowed in the cheap exploitation of pulp without forgetting to throw in reams of subtext and that had enough faith in its audience to be slightly baffling with its grace notes.

Recently I've been watching or re-watching films like Death Race 2000, Mad Max or even Robocop, which didn't come out until 87 - even then, genre films at their best dared to be funny, relevant, stark, striking, touching, thought provoking in addition to fulfilling the tropes they needed to. It seems like we've had less of that recently, although that could just be a matter of perspective, but in any case I will be avidly looking out for Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor's next film on the hopes that they will turn out to be one tenth as good as George A. Romero or his contemporaries were. This one alone was far less one-note than I expected, and far more fun.

(And as for Tarantino, Reservoir Dogs was great, and I liked Kill Bill a lot, but he's too self-reflexive, too focused on making something "significant" - Crank, like all great pulp film, simply is what it is, and it's what they work in around the edges that makes it great)

Monday, September 04, 2006 

With his boots on (metaphorically)

I'm a little surprised at how upset the news of Steve Irwin's death has made me. I mean, yes, the guy did dangerous stuff all the time. But going at 44 to a sting ray barb through the chest... I just don't know. Too soon, guys. Too soon.


Our turn to decide what that means


Sunday, September 03, 2006 

Got gaffled by one time

Just got back from Toronto, tired sore and broke. I'll post something about the weekend later once I have pictures, but for now, I'm going to direct your attention to the way you should do a music video, if you're determined to do one:

I should mention that the entire description on YouTube was "Got bored one day and made this entirely out of 'sample' pictures that come with Windows XP, the song is a cover performed by Ben Folds."

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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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