Tuesday, July 31, 2007 

A bad week for directors

So both Bergman and Antonioni have passed on, which sucks. If I could, I'd post a video of Scott Walker's "The Seventh Seal" (which I've had in my head all day) as homage, but Youtube comes up empty.


Mom says I'm helping

Occasionally I can be useful. Tweep is really good, although Ben needs to add a cast page toot sweet.

Monday, July 30, 2007 

Had a speech prepared and everything

Feel good hits of the 30th of July, 2007 (Hillside edition):

The Dears - "There Goes My Outfit"
Los Campesinos! - "You! Me! Dancing!"*
Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton - "Crowd Surf Off a Cliff"
The D'Urbervilles - "We're Blowing Up!"
Danielle Duval - "You're the One That I Want"
Do Make Say Think - "Executioner's Blues"
Shout Out Out Out Out - "Chicken Soup for the Fuck You"
Two Hours Traffic - "No Advances"
Elvis Perkins - "May Day!"
Los Campesinos! - "Sweet Dreams Sweet Cheeks"

*(seriously, possibly the seven most joyous minutes of my life)


Bing bang boom

Stylus has the beginnings of our Greatest Rock Drummers article up today; I contribute Janet Weiss from Sleater-Kinney and have two more blurbs coming up during the week.

Sunday, July 29, 2007 

It's you, and it's me

Los Campesinos! are one of the best bands on the planet right now, but they refuse to believe me when I tell them that. My God, what a show. What a band! I'd say I'm an instant convert, but I already loved them.

Saturday, July 28, 2007 


Whatever else you think of Girls Aloud (and "The Show" and "Biology" alone mean they have nothing to be ashamed of), this is one of the best things to happen in pop music in a while. Words cannot express how awesome I think that is.


Steeling myself

I've got my digital recorder, I've got my notepad, I've got my water bottle (free water!), I do not yet have any sunscreen. Time to go to a festival (....after working 7 hours).

Thursday, July 26, 2007 


Alberto Gonzales cannot be fired. I realise the 25% (or whatever) of Bush supporters left either don't watch this sort of thing or don't care, but doesn't this kind of performance put paid entirely to the notion that Bush's government has any sort of mandate at all? I'd like to think you couldn't get away with that kind of crap up here.

(link via A Grand Illusion)



If you player checkers and do not make a mistake, and neither does your opponent, it will end in a draw. Always.

I actually really like that story, if for no other reason than it reminds me how crucial and omnipresent mistakes are (Marion Tinsley aside).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 

But will the midget return?

That's right - there is going to be a new DVD of ten more chapters of "Trapped in the Closet."


Eyes closed hopefully

I have been pretty damn busy (and will be until we hire someone else and I'm not working quite so many hours a week), but I managed to finally review the re-release of I Am Robot and Proud's rather laudable album The Catch. Plus this morning I awoke to find that Stephen Krieger of the Freight Elevator Quartet had randomly stumbled onto my article on their collaboration with DJ Spooky, the still excellent File Under Futurism. It's always nice to hear someone appreciated you shining a (tiny) spotlight on their work.


Tell Sir Thomas More we've got another failed attempt

Feel good hits of the 24th of July, 2007:

The Shins - "So Says I"
I Am Robot and Proud - "Saturday Afternoon Plans"
Neko Case - "Star Witness"
Funkadelic - "Can You Get to That?"
Manic Street Preachers - "The Everlasting"
Spoon - "No You Don't"
David Gray - "Lead Me Upstairs"
Jega - "Recursion"
Pavement - "Stereo"
Gui Boratto - "Beautiful Life"

Sunday, July 22, 2007 

Here for infinity

Rihanna's "Umbrella" (I like it, but not as much as some do) has just made some form of history. I'm torn between thinking it means something significant and being sure that it doesn't.


No spoilers here

I read the last page of a friend's copy of the last Harry Potter. I'll get around to the rest of the book at some point, I imagine.

Saturday, July 21, 2007 

Goddamn it

Why is it only now that I scheduled to work that weekend that the Hillside Festival gets back to me telling me that I am, in fact, accredited for the weekend? I even get complimentary parking.

Friday, July 20, 2007 


So Peter Hook ain't in New Order any more. That's going to be kind of weird.



Alfred Soto stretches his wings and leaves the nest; A Grand Illusion will still be great, but I'm looking forward to reading him here as well.


Go team

I don't know if anyone's been following the World Series of Pop Culture, but Stylus' own Andrew Unterberger, who just won it (him and two other guys), is one of the people from the site that I've met. His posts on the whole experience have been incredible, and I can honestly say that despite whatever image he had on TV, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. He and his team absolutely deserved it, and I just hope I have the chance to congratulate him in person in the near-ish future.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 

I can't even slack properly

Yesterday I had lunch at Angel's Diner, which is two minutes from my apartment and just down the street from my place of employment. I figured I'd drop by to see what my schedule for next week was like, since I wanted a chance to figure out my weekend plans and I didn't actually start work until 5 (it was 1:30). Then I saw that they were a little busy, so I basically volunteered to start my shift three hours early. It should go without saying that I've never done anything like that in my working life before, especially considering I don't need the money that badly.

So yeah, the job's going well.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007 

Well I'm accustomed to a smooth ride

I've always wanted to see what a rainstorm looks like from the outside, and I finally did, twice; once driving across Manitoba the first night we got out of Ontario, a cloud smearing downwards in a rather disappointing way, but Joy assured me that was rain and she was right. The flight back was better; I could see almost a full circle rainbow as we passed over the cloud that was raining, and the rain looked much better from above. It helped that I was listening to the end of Drums and Guns; for some songs I think the slowly passing, almost-static view out of a plane window would make a good video, and "Violent Past" definitely qualifies.

It was, of course, a very long car trip, made slightly longer by the fact that Joy had family to visit the first few days. Sunday we woke up early, got going by the appropriate time (read: too early for me), and headed up to North Bay to see Joy's brother Bryan, before stopping at her dad's place in Sudbury for the night. Monday we headed over to Sault Ste. Marie (the Canadian one) to visit her brother Shane and some old friends of hers who kindly provided supper (as did her dad the night before), and then Tuesday we made it to Thunder Bay in one of the worse days of driving we had. The next morning more than made up for it, as minimal traffic and swathes of gorgeous yet dangerous fog made the stretch from Thunder Bay to Wawa one of my favourites. We made it to Portage la Prairie in Manitoba, had disgustingly greasy Pizza Hut to celebrate (we mostly stayed away from chains) and then had our most successful day, booting it from Manitoba to Alberta (Medicine Hat) in record time (~950 km, the most we tackled in a day) at a moderate 130. That was a lot of fun to drive, but of course boring to not-drive for; even people as talkative as Joy and I were out of words by the praries (they make your brain go slower, we swear) and there's not a whole lot to look at once you adjust. So we basically skipped Saskatchewan.

Friday was frustrating; after leaving Medicine Hat and hitting insane traffic after Calgary, we got bogged down in BC just because it felt like we were going so much slower than before. We stopped in Revelstoke for the night, which was lovely, and the next day pushed on to Vancouver. Those last three days were easier as we gained an hour a day, but we were still pretty exhausted (nights were basically getting dinner and then either swimming in the hotel pool briefly, catching a movie (Ratatouille, about as good as you'd expect) and then Joy passing out while I tried to find somewhere to read for a bit. I cracked Neal Stephenson's epic The System of the World (the closing volume to his even more epic Baroque Cycle) at Joy's dad's house the first night and by the time I flew back I was around 100 pages from finishing it (it's around 900, and in paperback consists of three volumes, so I read two-and-a-half 'normal' novels, really). Once we got to Vancouver and Joy's new apartment (nice, if a bit small for two people!) we hied ourselves to the Ikea in Coquitlam for her to get a mattress, sofa and other essentials. The sofa etc were being delivered, but at least we had something to sleep on.

Sunday her cat Zombie was being flown in, and getting to and from the airport and picking up cat supplies was a day in itself, to say nothing of how terrified the poor guy was when Joy got him home (this would be just after I find out Ben has gotten a cat while I'm gone; luckily, Frank is a pretty wonderful cat and I like the species in the first place). That was also the night we went to see Live Free or Die Hard (fuckin' a), and I ate what was apparently award-winning and definitely delicious sushi.

Monday we spent playing Half Life 2 waiting for Ikea to arrive, then Joy realised she needed a screwdriver so we made a supply run that took a couple of hours. Then I left Joy to her desiredly solitary labours (her reasoning being that people assembling Ikea furniture together fight about it, which I believe to be true; we got along quite well for the duration, to be honest, although of course a few odd spots of tension among two people walled up together in various small boxes is to be expected) which took more hours, before we headed out for Denny's in order to be able to eat before sleeping (my childhood, Florida memory holds up: Great milkshakes, shame about the food). Then it was 4 1/2 hours of sleep for me, a groggy drive through empty streets, the airline confiscating my incredibly harmless Swiss Army mini-Knife (I know, I know - if I hadn't been so zonked from lack of sleep I would have put it in my luggage and I wouldn't have had to pay $10 to get it shipped; if it never gets here I think I want this one anyways), me realising I forgot my very interesting magazine in BC (I forget the name, but it was full of trivia and interesting facts and brain teasers, that sort of thing; I hope Joy still has it), and then four hours over Canada (well, the states mostly) and then back into the bosom of my family, my province, my apartment.

Joy and I switched off on choosing albums to listen to, and here's what my half way (in no real order):

Belle & Sebastian – Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant
Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited
Elvis Costello – Armed Forces
The Good, the Bad & the Queen – S/T
Interpol – Turn On the Bright Lights
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
New Order – Substance
Phoenix – It's Never Been Like That
Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense
Tamas Wells – A Plea en Vendredi
Van Morrison – His Band and the Street Choir
The Walkmen – A Hundred Miles Off
Blue Rodeo – Five Days in July
David Bowie – Low/”Heroes” (vocal tracks only, out of deference to my companion)
The Delgados – The Great Eastern
Horse Feathers – Words Are Dead
Hot Chip – The Warning
Idlewild – 100 Broken Windows
Maximo Park – Our Earthly Pleasures
The National – Boxer
Nick Drake – Way to Blue
Rachel Kiel – Table Manners (twice)
Paul Simon - The Rhythm of the Saints (three times)
Mountain Goats - Zopilote Machine (bought in Medicine Hat for cheap)
Teenage Fanclub - Grand Prix

And on the plane back I fit in

The National - Alligator
Leonard Cohen - New Skin For the Old Ceremony
The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema
Low - Drums and Guns

It was a good trip, if particularly exhausting, and I'm glad we did it. Plus, coupled with a trip I took with my family when I was a kid, in a van out to P.E.I., I have now driven or been driving across the length of Canada and at least dipped my hand into both oceans. That's kind of cool. I worked the day after I got back, and I've been exceptionally busy between girlfriend and job and, err, the Lego Star Wars video game, but hopefully things will return to normal now.

Thursday, July 12, 2007 

Heavy shoes

I will be posting about my trip, but I'd like to direct people to Cosmo Lee's fine interview with Year of No Light, whose Nord really is a thing of beauty. I mention it for two reasons: First, for the weird (because irrelevant) but palpable thrill of finding out that a band whose album you like has some of the same influences you do (Low, Philip K. Dick, et al), and secondly because it has a link to one of the best Joy Division covers I've ever heard. It's also interesting to see them throw in with shoegaze as opposed to metal.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007 


Back. Ontario too humid. Brain dying. Talk later.

Monday, July 09, 2007 

Miles Standish proud

My favourite era of R.E.M. is a little after his, but c'mon, it's J. Edward Keyes; of course he nails their appeal so precisely: As time goes on I think I probably liked R.E.M. for the wrong reasons. The main attraction for most people, if every one of the seven hundred million pages devoted to them is to be believed, is the early aura of mystery and Peter Buck’s inverted quoting of The Byrds. As a pudgy, quiet, picked-on 16 year-old kid living in the strip mall rat-tail Dream Theater hell of Suffolk County, none of that meant dick to me. The first thing I zeroed in on was Michael Stipe because — and this might have more to do with my own cultural insulation than anything else — this was the first time I’d ever seen anyone I felt like I could relate to even remotely in a position of rock prominence.

I didn't get beaten up as often as he did - I was an outgoing, and more importantly big, kid but other than that he has again given me that odd shiver of recognition that I love to get from writing. And he's excited about the new album - which means so am I. As I've said before, they were my favourite band back when I didn't realise that you had any say in the matter.


Rock hard

I'd like my superhero suit now, please.


Alike a spring rose

I like Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal a lot most of the time, but sometimes Zach hits it right out of the park.

I have my plane ticket! I love flying. But I need to have a window seat, because I always spend the takeoff and landing staring raptly out the window. Getting across the country in four hours via a large chunk of metal hurtled into the sky by brute force never gets any less cool.

Sunday, July 08, 2007 

4642.4 KM later

So we're in North Vancouver now, in Joy's new apartment, and thanks to one precision raid on the Coquitlam Ikea there is even a bed, shower curtain, etc, etc here now (the couch gets delivered in a few days). I spent the ride back from Ikea with my head out the window like a puppy, listening to some DJ mix on the radio. We're pretty worn out, but happy to be here. The apartment is across the street from a park and if you look the other way you can see the ocean. The mountains are somewhere in the background. I keep forgetting that I'm not in Ontario (my default state, or rather province) let alone that I'm three hours behind nearly everyone I know. I just checked my bank balance for the first time since I left and discovered a paycheck and a GST rebate I hadn't expected (I thought the paycheck was next week). Today has been a ridiculously good day, from the almost Zen driving through the Rockies this morning to right now.

Saturday, July 07, 2007 

Sadly predictable

Still on the road, but the fact that Libby's had his sentence commuted* just can't pass without comment. Remember all of us mocking Bush's claim that whoever leaked Plame's name and CIA position would be dealt with harshly? I think we were being too generous. In my calmer moments, this is the sort of account I'd give to answer why this is important. But really, as per usual John Rogers channels my rage most eloquently:

Our representatives -- and to a great degree we as a culture -- are completely buffaloed by shamelessness. You reveal a man's corrupt, or lying, or incompetent, and what does he do? He resigns. He attempts to escape attention, often to aid in his escape of legal pursuit. Public shame has up to now been the silver bullet of American political life. But people who are willing to just do the wrong thing and wait you out, to be publicly guilty ... dammmnnnn.

We are faced with utterly shameless men. Cheney and the rest are looking our representatives right in the eye and saying "You don't have the balls to take down a government. You don't have the sheer testicular fortitude to call us lying sonuvabitches when we lie, to stop us from kicking the rule of law and the Constitution in the ass. You just don't. What's beyond that abyss -- what that would do to our government and our identity as a nation -- terrifies you too much. So get the fuck out of our way."

And to a great degree, the White House is right. You peel this back, and you reveal that the greatest country in the world has been run, for the last six and a half years, by men who do not give a shit about the Constitution, or fair play, or honesty. No, not just run by corrupt men, or bribe-takers, or adulterers or whatever, we could handle that --no we'd be admitting It Went Wrong.

There is a sizeable population in America that just does not, cannot wrap their head around the fact that the President may be a Bad Man who does Bad Things. He's President of America. We're Americans. We're the good guys. Remember, the Nixon mythos in America is that the system worked. "See, in America, even the President is not above the law."

These Suited Bastards know the fragile shell of American exceptionalism is all that's keeping a whole lot of people from processing that they're working too many hours for not enough money, and they either believe real reeaaaalll hard that they're living in the Shining City on the Hill or admit their lives are shit and they've been chumped.

*In my rage and lack of sleep I originally wrote "pardoned," even though I know damn well that that wasn't the case; in any event, as both linked pages note, commutation is worse, not better. Thanks to a friend for pointing out my error.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007 

The only kick in life is pumping that steel

Quick update: We went from Thunder Bay to Portage la Prairie, MN (another 800 or so KM), we're well on track to get to Vancouver when we want to without burning out too bad, we've seen lots of canola, I love both driving in Northern Ontario (so twisty! beautiful scenery!) and the prairies (bahn, bahn, Autobahn). We haven't even come close to killing each other, thanks. It's draining but a lot of fun. I've been reading Stephenson's The System of the World in my spare time. I'm kind of looking forward to getting back to normal life eventually. Emphasis on eventually.

Sunday, July 01, 2007 


And on that note, I am hitting the road to drive to BC with my friend Joy, who is moving there. Back the 10th, possibly not back here until the 11th or so. We'll see. Have fun, kids.


This is not a joke so please stop smiling

I guess the moral is you probably shouldn't go to see a band who's last record you hate and second last record you don't care about. Don't get me wrong, Wilco were good enough live - the two-song stretch where we got an incredible "Via Chicago" complete with irruptions of noise followed by a very sweet "Jesus, Etc." was good enough that if they'd kept up that pace I would have been a convert, and I quite liked Nels Cline the entire show. But they massacred "Sunken Treasure" as an opener (I like it when bands change up songs live - but when they remove everything good from a song, they have to put something else good in, or it sinks) and then followed up with two crap new songs, and I thought I was doomed until they launched into a fine, burning "A Shot in the Arm." Of course, I was really there to see someone else, so it was worth it, and that alone was a weird sensation. I don't hate all of Sky Blue Sky, not quite; over multiple listens at work, "Either Way" has been revealed as a fine, supple if low-key song that I really like. Everything else sucks, though.

It's kind of weird to have the climax of your concert going night at about 8:40, but that's what happens when you go for the opener. I'll give Kicking Television a listen, and I'd love to hear this lineup of the band tackle the whole of Summerteeth, but put me down in the not impressed column.

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