Friday, August 31, 2007 

A cry for help, a hint of anaesthesia

I'm pretty shit these days writing much of anything of substance here, as opposed to Too Many Words, Too Many Words and Stylus, but that's the nature of multiple outlets and too much work (and we could have a productive discussion about the tragedy of a writer having to toil so many hours he doesn't have time to write, if I thought that highly of myself). So I'm pretty indebted to k-punk for mentioning my article on Joy Division and Hauntology in his roundup of some recent doings in the field (I of course mentioned it to him as he inspired the article, but I'm still flattered).

I think it's interesting, actually, that Hannett is the one who got Curtis to pitch his voice lower than natural - and I use that word very deliberately - for Closer. I've mentioned in passing the distinction between Joy Division's two albums a good account of their live show at the time (the best us young'uns can do, sadly) like the Les Baines Douches album (of which Stewart Voegtlin's hallucinatory, political account may be my favourite). It's actually for Stylus I addressed the halt/go thing most directly, but I don't really tackle the live show. Surely part of this is the interior conviction that, as someone who has not and can not (and could never have) actually experienced Joy Division live, the territory is too treacherous to navigate.

Mark also highlights something I wish I'd thought about more as I wrote the essay: "In his lyrics Curtis dwelt on the theme of being-a-prerecording, of living life as if it were a film, of being the only living entity in a world of zombies - a sense interred and distilled in the glacially fatalistic cata-tone of his voice, about which Ian writes so eloquently." I think with Closer I'm so mesmerized, smashed, hurt (in a way) by the sound that I only tend to come around to analyzing the lyrics in any sort of meaningful way later on. One of the most interesting things about the experience of writing the article (here, by the way - still haven't got a chance to fix the links) was searching out lines from Closer for the section titles and the title of the essay as a whole. Except for "Here are the young men, where have they been?" and "So this is permanent" the others were ones I wasn't really consciously aware of in the sense of being able to start talking about what Curtis sings about as opposed to how he sings it. I think I owe myself some re-listenings with that particular phrasing in mind, actually, because the use of the phrase "being-a-prerecording" strikes a chord with my normal experience of the album.

I'm also rather grateful that when Mark links me in his post he uses the best post from TMW,TMW rather than my usual rather telegraphic blatherings here. Things like "Anon" are what I was hoping to get from the 'oeuvreblog' experience, and it's paid off a few times already.

(PS I've already been meaning for literally years to track down the Pop Group, but Mark's description here of it as "the fire to Joy Division’s ice" is persuasive and evocative enough I think I might need to track it down myself, if any readers wanted to help...)

Thursday, August 30, 2007 

People are like suns

My review of the new Crowded House record is up today. I've got ten of the tracks from my copy ripped to my hard drive, and the resulting 44 minutes is the album they should have made.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 


Four orphaned hedgehogs have adopted a hairbrush as a mother figure. That picture of Mary, Mungo, Midge and Slappy (not making those names up) is friggin' adorable.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007 

Teach your children well

So I'll be TAing again this fall, this time for PHIL 1050 (Basic Problems), and I've got my own tutorial. Exciting, if maybe a bit daunting too.


Is anything?

Man, news that My Bloody Valentine might reunite is exciting, sure, but let's be honest: Chances are they won't, chances are if they do it'll suck, and in any case I definitely can't go to Coachella. Boo-urns.

Monday, August 27, 2007 

Who will lie for him now?

I'm not being facetious; with Alberto Gonzales gone, who on earth wiill Bush find with the shamelessness and guts to lie to the government so bluntly and openly? That's kind of a major policy tool for his government right now.


Time can take its toll on the best of us

My Seconds on Stars' "Heart" is up today at Stylus. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Sunday, August 26, 2007 

Lethal force is never simple

And no, I'm not talking about the UFC any more. I meant to blog this days ago; my friend Aaron passed on a very interesting article looking at not just when lethal force is justified, but how it is we can tell in the heat of the moment when that standard actually comes into play. Interesting stuff, even if it does only really scratch the surface.


Broken nose

If there's a better way to watch the UFC fights than in a hot tub with a gin and tonic in your hand, constantly replenished, I don't want to hear about it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007 

"I made...a....a really bad choice."

Friday's Achewood is pretty much the most horrific thing I've ever seen in a webcomic. What the fuck, Onstad?

(NB. "What the fuck" said out of baffled, totally creeped out admiration)

Friday, August 24, 2007 

The first step to a solution

I got this shirt in a Target in Cleveland, and although I like it I don't wear it that often. Today I wore it to work; at least five distinct times, people complimented me on it and asked where they could get one. Not what I would have predicted at all.

Monday, August 20, 2007 

Halfway there

I've got an article in the 29th edition of Perforations, an online academic journal. The issue is here, and my contribution "I Exist on the Best Terms I Can: Joy Division's Closer and Hauntology" is part way down the page. I'm in some pretty august company. Not all of the links are working yet, but I'm getting on that.


Doctor Hilarius would be proud

So apparently Adobe's been broadcasting The Crying of Lot 49. That's pretty cool, especially as they're going to leave it broadcasting now that it's public knowledge.


Ups and downs

I was awoken about 8:30 this morning by one of my bed legs collapsing. The mattress? Great. The box spring? Just fine. The crappy Ikea wooden legs? Fucking horrible. I should have gotten the metal ones, I guess - I didn't really examine them but they seemed to bolt upwards into the bed instead of sideways, which just seems like an obviously dumb idea. Even better, to remove the legs I had to hammer them with a wrench for five minutes apiece, always my idea of a good time, especially when one flies right out of my hand and mildly gashes my leg.

On the other hand, I've got two things up today at Stylus, both of which I'm pretty proud of: My review of the new Monkey Swallows the Universe disc, and my On Second Thought on Paul Simon's surprisingly sublime The Rhythm of the Saints.

Sunday, August 19, 2007 

"The Martians are always coming."

Adam Gopnik has written some truly dire things for the New Yorker at times, but his profile of Philip K. Dick is excellent. I'm glad Jonathan Lethem is the one compiling Dick for the Library of America (both Lethem and Dick deserve it), and I'm glad my favourite writer of my teenage years is apparently now a Genius. But I'm also glad Gopnik punctures a lot of the fuss that gets him fundamentally wrong:

Although “Blade Runner,” with its rainy, ruined Los Angeles, got Dick’s antic tone wrong, making it too noirish and romantic, it got the central idea right: the future will be like the past, in the sense that, no matter how amazing or technologically advanced a society becomes, the basic human rhythm of petty malevolence, sordid moneygrubbing, and official violence, illuminated by occasional bursts of loyalty or desire or tenderness, will go on. Dick’s future worlds are rarely evil and oppressive, exactly; they are banal and a little sordid, run by a demoralized élite at the expense of a deluded population. No matter how mad life gets, it will first of all be life.

Or, about VALIS:

What is moving in Dick’s madness is his insistence that the surest sign of the madness of the world outside him is the violence that we accept as normal. In Clans of the Alphane Moon, he had already glimpsed the possibility that normal governing might be the work of paranoids. This Nixon-era vision becomes, in the VALIS books, a metaphysical truth. “The Empire is the institution, the codification, of derangement; it is insane and imposes its insanity on us by violence, since its nature is a violent one,” Fat writes. That this is followed by an explanation of how those deaf-mute three-eyed invaders arrived in ancient Sudan from a planet in the star system Sirius does not diminish its force; if anything, it increases it, by reminding us of the price the visionary paid for it... The vision of an unending struggle between a humanity longing for a fuller love it always senses but can’t quite see, and a deranged cult of violence eternally presenting itself as necessary and real—this thought today does not seem exactly crazy. The empire never ends.

That last point - the way the Black Iron Prison presents itself "as necessary and real" - is something that dovetails nicely with Capitalist Realism and k-punk's investigations thereof.

Saturday, August 18, 2007 

Oh, shit!

I forgot to mention, but the Jukebox devoted all of yesterday (start here) to the latest installments of R. Kelly's classic "Trapped in the Closet." Will lets me get the last word, which was nice of him.

Friday, August 17, 2007 


I just used my grandfather's socket wrench set, which I inherited when he passed away, to disassemble my hated, back killing futon (well, it did good service for ~6-7 years first, so no real complaints). I love socket wrenches, as far as tools go, and my grandpa's set are an example of old, well-built tools that still work better than anything I could afford to buy at Canadian Tire. They're very solid. I feel oddly adult right now.


"I want people to be afraid of how much they love me."

Work bought me season 2 of the US Office for my birthday. That's pretty awesome. And now, to wait for Ikea to show up with my new bed!

Thursday, August 16, 2007 

Eat the music

Via a friend, I have grave doubts about this theoretical search engine that 'listens,' and compares music on an aesthetic level, but we'll have to see. If it works even part of the time, certainly it'll be both interesting and useful.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007 

Don't act so innocent

The most satisfying thing to happen at my job yet is having a coworker decide to play Drums and Guns and then having a random middle-aged woman first ask me who it is and then buying one of the new copies from us after having heard most of it. That put a smile on my face.


Space dust

Continuing with creepy and disturbing things, apparently inorganic matter comes 'alive' in space. Anyone else vaguely terrified by that?


I wanna bring you too

Liars' new self-titled album is actually really good, which is more than a little nice considering I'd given up on them. Now it might make my top 10 for the year. It sounds like they locked themselves in a small room with nothing but Fun House and Self Destruction, and if that idea excites you like it excites me you owe it to yourself to check the record out. But mainly this is an excuse to expose people to the creepiest fucking music video I've seen in years.

Monday, August 13, 2007 

Sudden and sad

I've always been a big fan of Mike Wieringo's art, so it's with great regret I mention now that he's passed away, at 44, from a heart attack. Damn.



My birthday was very good, thanks, but of course I was too busy to post anything. Driving down to St. Catherines in a bus for Orbax's show was great, having to sit through the bus ride when I desperately wanted to sleep (partly because of booze, mostly because of exhaustion) less so. And I got what I really wanted for my birthday - a new bed, which I drove to Ikea with Julia and picked out on Saturday. I've been spending today, my last day off work (they gave my three days for my birthday, which is awesome) writing and catching up on my correspondence. I wanted to mention probably my favourite paragraph, from Erik on my beloved EP+6:

Once I decided I didn't need to hear all of that first track on the Mogwai EP+6 ("Superheroes of BMX"), I liked the rest. It is definitely better than the other Mogwai stuff I've heard here and there. Though that opener is just ... I don't even know what to say. I'm glad I've never heard anyone else try to do Slint-Hop. Mogwai didn't do anything else like that, did they? They could have called an album of that sound Maxinquaaludes. Brrr.

"Superheroes of BMX" is one of my favourite Mogwai tracks, but I love his turn of phrase here enough that I don't mind at all (actually, I wouldn't mind at all anyway, but you know what I mean). Maxinquaaludes! That's awesome.

Of course, after finally hearing all of that album, I can comfortably say that Pre-Millennium Tension is Tricky's real masterwork.

Also, after wanting to see both for ages I rented Caddyshack and The Seventh Seal and watched them last week, albeit separately (that would have been an intolerable double bill!). Both are excellent, in fact both exceeded my expectations, but weirdly enough the former was more sly and cerebral and the latter more fiery and emotional than I had previously expected. But although I want to explore Caddyshack again, it's The Seventh Seal I need to own (and Bergman, not Ramis, I need to investigate).

Friday, August 10, 2007 

And I'm staring you straight in the eyes

Seeing Los Campesinos! again on Tuesday at the Horseshoe Tavern was both better and worse than seeing them at Hillside. Worse really only in the sense that the sound quality of a bar isn't as good as you get under a tent outside, although they still sounded pretty great (glockenspiel and violin were both clear and audible, although the female vocals weren't), and also that the crowd seemed to go a little less nuts. Better, though, in the sense that the songs that aren't on the Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP were now ones I'd heard before and that I could have it confirmed for me that my conversion experience at Hillside wasn't a fluke. And it wasn't. I adore this band.

I interviewed Gareth and Tom beforehand, which I think went really well, although I've still got to finish transcribing it. I would kill to be able to catch more of their tour, but I'll have to settle for catching them the next time they play Toronto. I will be very hard for anything to prevent me doing so, however. These guys first album is going to be just ridiculously good.


The International Tweecore Underground
Death to Los Campesinos!
Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats
Don't Tell Me to Do the Math(s)
We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives
It Started With a Mixx
Knee Deep at ATP
...And We Exhale and Roll Our Eyes in Unison
You! Me! Dancing!
Sweet Dreams Sweetcheeks

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 

Crack wise on the price of fame

In addition to the last part of the Hillside article, today finds my Seconds on the New Pornographers' "Use It."

Monday, August 06, 2007 

It begins

Part one of my three part article on Hillside this year is up at Stylus today; it's the weekly article, which I'm very proud of. Parts two and three go up in the next two days.

Saturday, August 04, 2007 

Nice things about my job

1. My boss telling other people yesterday how he basically didn't have to train me at all, I just knew how to do the job (repeatedly), and that he thinks I'm ready to get a key to the store (which comes with a raise) soon.

2. Being able to take a half hour break in the back, which despite being separated from the chaos of the store by one thin wall seems very calm and peaceful, especially as I've been reading Invisible Cities during said breaks, eating my homemade, relatively healthy lunch.

3. The fact that I don't work with anyone who's uptight, incompetant or a jerk.

4. The eight year old kid who started spontaneously dancing when I put this on a few weeks ago. You should have seen the smile on his face.

Thursday, August 02, 2007 

Hilarity ensues

A new movie from the Wet Hot American Summer guys? That's apparently great? Why have I not heard of this before?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007 

A modern hero

Pat Tillman is a modern hero, of course, mostly for the way the real story is a hell of a lot more sordid and depressing than you'd think at first. And he's really modern for the way it's not his fault or doing. If one thing could make him happy (if he was still alive), it's the thought that maybe this is what will make the crucial difference in the ongoing, half-silent war to make America a sane place again.

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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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