Thursday, July 29, 2010 

We die only once (and for such a long time)

Should I ever develop a cancer or other serious fatal illness, I am going to force my family and friends to read this. Actually, they should probably read it now. You probably should too, unless you're planning not to die (even then, you probably should read it, just to be safe).

I teared up a few times reading it, not necessarily because of the content of the article so much as the thought of conversations I might have to have someday. But I'm inexpressibly grateful to Dr. Gawande and others like him that I'm more aware of those conversations, and that I feel unafraid to have them, if that's my lot in life.

On a much more minor note, I can't help but point out that Gawande manages in a mere aside to point out how bitter and grotqesque the whole "death panels" thing was. Just one more thing about the article that broke my heart.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 

I have a mandolin

As previously mentioned, I've been following the Undercover series at the AV Club pretty avidly, and the one song I'd been most eager to hear (barring maybe "Game of Pricks," which Owen Pallett did a fine version of) is the Cure's "Inbetween Days." I'm not a big Cure fan except for the pop singles (basically, and minus "The Lovecats" and a few others); I'm one of those people who prefer their second-best of to their first. Given some of the other choices in the series I was a bit worried it'd be done by a band I dislike or don't care about (and thus become the opposite of the Retribution Gospel Choir covering "Kokomo," which was actually pretty good but I still don't like the original). Thankfully it turns out that we got Superchunk instead, which makes me very happy. This is a band, after all, whose version of the Magnetic Fields' "100,000 Fireflies" might be my favourite cover (if it's not, it's close; My Bloody Valentine's cover of "Map Ref. 41°N 93°W" and Ben Folds' "Bitches Ain't Shit" are the only competition I can think of right now).

Friday, July 23, 2010 

"I want to kick over the whole fucking chessboard"

Speak of the devil... I first heard about David Eagleman (and his book Sum, which is also on my to-read list) on the truly great Radiolab. This article on the also reliably great Killing the Buddha not only gets deeper into what Eagleman's doing and striving for, it gives me a label for my beliefs that I just might want to use:

Eagleman rejects not only conventional religion but also the labels of agnostic and atheist. In their place, he has coined the term possibilian: a word to describe those who "celebrate the vastness of our ignorance, are unwilling to commit to any particular made-up story, and take pleasure in entertaining multiple hypotheses."

I think "made-up story" is a bit glib, but basically this is an idea I can get behind.


"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.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010 

A little heartbroken

Goddamnit, Germany.

Guessing I'm rooting for the Dutch now.

(kind of cute to see Klose and Villa on the pitch after the match ended, seemingly deciding to trade jerseys inside instead, not to mention Schweinsteiger/Iniesta - two very fitting pairs, I think)

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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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