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Thursday, August 26, 2010 

Stuck in some bardo

IMPORTANT INFORMATION INSIDE

Seriously, though. I know I don't use this blog much (if ever?) to point out upcoming events, but if you're in/near Toronto for the fourth of September you could do a lot worse than head over to the Drake Underground to see Sam Amidon, who regular readers may recall made my favourite album of the last decade (his new one is excellent too, if on my short but distressingly old list of things I need to find time to review). He's quite good live, and I believe this is his first solo Canadian show.

Speaking of music (don't expect me to keep making transitions, though), I've been listening to the Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs a little obsessively lately. I still think the run on the second disc from "Very Funny" to "World Love" is the best sustained section of the album ("All My Little Words" is my sentimental pick for favourite song, which might be perverse; "Busby Berkeley Dreams" into "I'm Sorry I Love You" my favourite transition), but listening to the whole shebang two or three times a day really clarifies how many hidden gems the whole thing has. The exercise has sent me back to glenn mcdonald's wonderful summation on The War Against Silence, which includes this immortal litany:

"My attempts to summarize what I think it is this album achieves read like acrostic clues, like I can't possibly mean them as single thoughts: Three minutes each of any style that can be played sober; the Yellow Pages for a quarantined city of derelict clowns; a West Side Story for the doomed courtship between anoraks and apartment radiators; every introvert's heroes sitting quietly in one junkstruck room; a shut-in's extrapolation of the Anthology of American Folk Music from catalog blurbs; proof that all cynicism is heartbreak under its make-up; an unlabeled cassette library of PixelVision sunsets; the picket line demanding that the Island of Lost Toys also admit metaphors; Leonard Cohen's eulogy for Dr. Seuss."

Someone took a Justin Bieber song (not even a big hit, as far as I know), and slowed it down eight times over. The result is about half an hour, and in the words of a commenter "It's what vuvuzelas sound like in the stadiums of heaven." Pretty great, even if it makes me wonder what more music sounds like given the Inception treatment.

If you only follow one link in this post and read everything there, please make it this one. Barring one misplaced possible dig at Darwin near the end, Akst really nails something here. I'm not a loner, I certainly have plenty of friends, but an awful lot of my really close friends of the type he describes don't live in town any more, and as you get older it's harder to replace that kind of friendship. There are people I miss terribly, and you can't really asuage that with a phone call or an online chat, and it's difficult to make more of that kind of friend (and sometimes hard to feel like you want to).

I don't really write fiction (yet?), but Tim O'Brien's wonderful essay on telling tales is solid advice nonetheless, and very enjoyable (and not just for the nods to my beloved Borges). I highly recommend it to anyone who is writing fiction.

A little while back (not enough time to blog in a timely fashion, sorry), Matthew Perpetua of Fluxblog posted an interview with Rob Sheffield over the course of a week. It's a very good interview, even when I don't agree with them, but this (from the fifth part) was probably my favourite bit (and another reason to like Lady Gaga):

"Something fascinating about Lady Gaga is how little she cares about straight men. She concedes absolutely nothing to the straight-boy gaze, and that’s part of what makes her so badass. When you see Madonna live, you have this sense that being watched by straight men is somewhere in the Top 20 of things she cares about, if only because she wants that to impress the gay men watching (who might be #1 on that list), but Gaga doesn’t care whether the straight boys in the house come, stay, lay or pray. I’ve never seen an arena show where straight men were more beside the point. And I’ve seen a Debbie Gibson arena show."

One of the many things to love about the AV Club is the quality of their interviews, and for anyone who grew up watching The Kids in the Hall like we did, this one with the great Kevin McDonald (always my favourite of the Kids, and based on this interview a really sweet guy to boot), studded with clips of the sketches under discussion, hits a very sweet spot.

I'm a fan of getting food from places around where you live; it just seems sensible. But so does this, a welcome dose of common sense for times when you're falling too far into the trap of thinking there's a simple solution to the problems local food sourcing is supposed to solve.

If all I did here was repost things from Slacktivist that I love and support, this blog would probably be more active than it actually is; as it is, I can't resist mentioning this post, which is truly lovely and important. I may not be a Christian, but Fred is one of the best writers on current social and political issues of any faith or party.

Lastly, because I enjoy making people cry, watch this video. Just incredibly moving.

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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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