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Friday, July 23, 2010 

"as many possible points of scrutiny"

Ugh, I've had stuff I've wanted to post for weeks and weeks now, somehow just never found my computer for long enough. Work has been busy, the usual type of thing. Also we went to Philadelphia and now I hate Philly fans like everyone else does (a cheesesteak with blue cheese and hot peppers is incredible, though; tater tots on the side). In no particular order:

- David Byrne is a pretty weird guy, or at least that's the impression I get from both David Bowman's pretty risible This Must Be The Place: The Adventures of the Talking Heads in the Twentieth Century and this. But weird in a neat way.

- I'm sure these pieces of furniture are just crazily expensive. But as someone who likes living in small spaces and longs for organization, I want a set of them terribly anyway.

- I neither hate nor love Robert Christgau, but I do respect him and his work. Overall, my friend Alfred Soto sums up best what we'll miss now that his astoundingly long-running Consumer's Guide column is going away.

- Another friend of mine from Stylus days, Justin Cober-Lake, sent me this pretty good article on agnosticism. Ron Rosenbaum is, to put it gently, not someone I always agree with, but it's nice to see someone rejecting the rather tepid idea that agnostics are just some form of atheist.

- Speaking of old colleagues, Peter Parrish and Theon Weber have both done really excellent work recently; Peter on videogame reviewing and George Orwell (making some points that hold, albeit not quite as strongly, for all criticism) for the Escapist, and Theon with the best article ever written about Miley Cyrus, for the Village Voice.

- The ever-esteemable Carl Wilson is part of a new groupblog called Back to the World that's quite good; I recommend Carl's post on song titles, which is really excellent in that how'd-you-know-I-thought-that-way? kind of way.

- I like Scott Pilgrim (not as much as the song and the band who did it, nor as much as some of my friends do, but I like it) and I'm looking forward to the movie. But I don't know if I would have bothered creating an avatar using the movie's site. Luckily(?) my housemate saved me the trouble. My one regret about missing the launch party for the last Scott Pilgrim book is that Carla and Lynette Gillis' new band Sisters (or SISTERS, I guess?) was playing, and I still adore Plumtree's three records more than enough to be rabidly enthusiastic about anything they do in the future (I guess Amanda Braden is pursuing a PhD in Boston, at least according to Wikipedia, which is a shame because her "The Game's Over" is still one of my favourite songs in the world; Catriona Sturton playd Guelph years ago with the Japanese band The Secret and I got to talk with her a bit, which was cool).

- The Beat Goes On uses one of these (specifically the second one in the last row, made by the Canadian Automatic Plastics Company) as its logo on the t-shirt I got when I worked there. We all knew what it was, but none of us had a name for it. Apparently "45 adapter" is the best we're going to get; I was hoping for a cooler name. Like "dongle."

- Let's get all of my writing (for PopMatters, in this case) out of the way at once; I did a capsule review of the really really really good and kind of overlooked record Pyramids did with Nadja, a show review for MONO and the Twilight Sad (I wrote another one for the Eluvium/Julianna Barwick show I saw, but it's not up yet), and a full review of the fine new Max Richter album. That's it since the middle of June. I need to find/make more time for writing, and soon.

- I'm not very good at the, shall we say, mechanical aspects of either, but this sort of thing is why I love probability and statistics. It's counter-intuitive and a little headspinning, but ultimately it makes sense; very neat stuff.

- I have deeply mixed feelings about Malcolm Gladwell, but this essay, on the reasons we give for things and how our minds deal with them, is really fantastic. John Tilly's Why? is on my increasingly large to-read list. My friend Aaron pointed out this essay to me, and asked me what I thought the possible ramifications were for criticism; it's an interesting question I haven't had the time or space to properly grapple with yet.

- I've loved Louis C.K. as a comedian and actor for years, but even if you don't find him funny there's a lot to admire in this fantastic AV Club interview. The best part: "And sometimes when I’ve been onstage, people would yell out 'Suck a bag of dicks!' from my special, and I would just say, 'No, that’s old material. I want to give you new material.' And every time I said that, I would get applause. I got the sense through this kind of ad hoc polling that 95 percent of the audience would really like to see new stuff. So if you’re always working on material that is new to you and new to your audience, and because it’s new to both of you, there’s a precarious feeling like maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t, that keeps it exciting also."

- Speaking of the AV Club, one of my favourite websites, their Undercover series has been really good. I don't think much of Fall Out Boy, but their (ex?)singer Patrick Stump's cover of "My Favourite Dress" (originally by the Wedding Present) is really quite good, and he comes across well in the interview. I might actually be interested in his solo albuum; here's hoping he stays far away from Pete Wentz in the future.

- Snoop Dogg tried to rent Lichtenstein (all of it) and now wants to be on Coronation Street. This is what I want from my celebrities.

- It's entirely predictable that I would love Inception, and I did; there are certainly wrinkles to the whole thing, but on the whole I'd say my opinions on the ending and the themes of the movie as a whole are pretty well reflected in Dileep Rao's take on things. More than that, the linked interview confirms that Rao (whom I really liked in Inception and Drag Me to Hell) is a pretty sharp guy himself (dude uses "heuristic" properly!); someone get him some more, and more significant, work fast.

Okay, that's everything for now; I really am going to try and post more regularly and avoid these kinds of marathons in the future.

I like the marathons, though I feel like I've got lots of homework to do before I can post anything intelligent in reply.

I'm going to run the Philly marathon this fall, so have to try one of those cheesesteaks at some point.

We mostly did not like Philly, but I highly highly recommend the Tattooed Moms bar (and the cheesesteak there). Good atmosphere, cheap beer, good food.

I will have to find a cheesesteak of that description. I haven't been to Tattooed Mom (for food) in a while, but that's my favorite spot on that end of South Street. I hope you will consider that Philly is absolutely not at its best when attending sporting events, especially if you happen to be supporting a non-Philly team. Also, we have a pretty severe hipster infestation. I know.

Inception was rad. I also enjoyed Dileep Rao's take, and reading that interview helped me to solidify my own thoughts about the film and the ending.

I should start copying your link-spamming ways.

Wait wait wait, you're in Philly? Man, why did I forget about everyone I know who lives in/around Philly until after this trip?

We actually had a couple of Philly fans apologize to us, which I thought was kind of classy. My favourite was "I hope we've lived up to our reputation as world-class assholes, sorry for that." And there certainly were hipsters, but I really liked the record store right next to Tattooed Moms.

Don't worry, there were definitely lots of people and places we liked in the city (the Mutter Museum was awesome).

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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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