Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The White Rose Movement

You see them bringing their CDs to the party, thick vinylized cases clutched in determined hands. Turns out you like Cadence Weapon and Outkast, but they like Megadeth. You like Vitalic and White Rose Movement. But they like Aimee Mann. You like Avenge Sevenfold and Blood Brothers. And Aqua! But they don't. So out goes your music, and in goes their stuff. They never ask, do they? You could say, "No, thanks," then, or you could nod politely and say, "Why not?". Or engage them in a lively game of Chinese checkers. Or loudly laugh and punch them in the meaty part of their shoulders. But your party, your car, your stereo, should never be taken for granted. Let them get their own! How is that unreasonable? And by the way, I LOATHE Avenge Sevenfold. But I'm not going to hit up some random goth/metal/glam/hardcore party and slip "My Oh My (Spike, Clyde'n'Eightball Club Mix)" into the CD player. K, well, I might, but I'll bloody well ask first.

Which means I am for the Catholic Church, and I am against the woman-priest movement. "Nine women," the National Post says, "were ordained as Roman Catholic priests and deacons on the St. Lawrence River yesterday." Ordained? Such a term implies offical recognition. Ordained by whom? Not by the Vatican, or by anyone speaking for the Vatican. Therefore, not ordained by the Vatican. Therefore, not Roman Catholic. Listen, I personally am not against female priests, deacons, pastors, reverends, or female anything in religion. But these women are coming to a party to which they've never been invited. They're wedding crashers. To be labelled a Roman Catholic, one must hold certain positions, certain definitions. To hold other positions is to redefine oneself by another label. To believe, for instance, in the divine authority of Allah is to label oneself Muslim. To believe in the divine authority of Jesus Christ, who said "No man cometh to the Father except by me" is, among many things, to exclude oneself from Islam. To believe that women may be appointed as priests is to exclude oneself from the Roman Catholic church. To insist otherwise is to pigheadedly play your unwelcome Meshuggah over someone else's Electrocute.

Reading: No reading! Reading is over. I'm never reading again. Reading is a city in England. A county? Somebody else google that. I'm never going there, tell you that. I'd rather go to Little Storping. Reading is right out.

Listening: Saturday morning, J phoned me at work. "Are you sitting down?" he said. "Arcade Fire is coming to Edmonton! With Wolf Parade!" I checked the tour dates on Merge and Sub Pop and IT'S TRUE! YAY! I thought I would have to move to Chicago or Belgium before I would ever hear these guys live. And I hear they're amazing live! BUT I will not post any AF links or any signposts to WP. I will keep my excited smile under wraps. Wraps! Today, I am listening to a different side of things, the side of things against other things, the good against the bad. But I am not alone. Many are here with me. Even Morrissey, it turns out, is listening to "Love Is A Number" + White Rose Movement

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Pyramid-sided Cruise-ships Bell

Four more bombings? So what, exactly, does radical Islam think it will accomplish better than radical Catholicism? If the Irish couldn't break'em, what makes the Muslims think they can break up the Brits? St. George ALWAYS slays the dragon. I know (you know it, too) that the murderers think the UK is The Dragon. But I know different. Hey, reptiles eat their young, right? And I don't see the British blowing up their own to get back at Islam. Who's the monster, then? Whose the grendel?

Crystal tells me that every Wednesday the pyramid-sided cruise-ships bell their horns as they come into harbour at Puerta Vallarta. This world holds so many fragile valiants. I'm going to go see some of them now. Good-night.

Reading: The fourth part of Mere Christianity was originally published as a chapbook titled Beyond Personality. The chapbook is a firm foursquare declaration of clear consequences. Who, if he even exists, is God? Can't be put blunter than that. Lewis doesn't rely on himself for the answers. Instead, he centers himself firmly in religious tradition and writes Mere Christianity + Clive Staples Lewis

Listening: How many times has the Adolf Eichmann look-a-like in the corner told you that there's a right way to use failure, and there's a wrong way? As often a your mother? These paper cut-outs know how to use failure. They just found out. Huge and synthy and Franz Ferdinandy, that's what they are. And they're starting to sound very successful with "The Correct Use Of Failure" + CDOASS

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Dutch Gothic

Mowed the lawn yesterday. Cleaned house, as well, and vacuumed the cat. Even rearranged this page (well, you might already have noticed). The pretty pictures section has some excellent are-they-bizarre-are-they-genius links, especially Bezembinder's Geïllustreerde, which is INSANE in a very positive and uplifting Dutch Gothic sense. That's right—Dutch Gothic. And in the precious words section—well, first off, The Absorbascon. His other blog is in Latin, and this one's in a bizzare language as well, very facetious, sarcastic, devoted. Comic books aren't my thing, but that's not why you read this blog. You read it cause the author is over-the-top hilarious. No, he's better. Get Beastie Boys on his blog already! And after you're done scanning that, link on over to You Cried For Night, whose bark definitely has some bite. Wait, I don't even know what that means. But it's a great blog, even if the title does sound charmingly like the left hand of darkness. She's Down Under, and very literate. Thank-you, btw, Genevieve, for your kind words.

I'm no Alfie, making and breaking connections, but what's it all about? What is this business of links, then? Me, I don't mind them, found some of my favourite sites through other people's sidebars, but not everyone thinks that way. Michelle over at Syntaxfree had a post ages ago, detailing how she hated the way these blogrolls (Godsake, what an ugly word) were merely in the business of namedropping each other. I get where she's going, and it's true, the blogroll can easily devolve into a clique-ish List me! List me! type of excercise, but there's more, isn't there? What, besides the I'm-cool-look-at-MY-links mentality, you say? Oh, be quiet! Yes, there's that, too. But there's also just enjoying being listed, isn't there? The first blog I ever read was also the first blog to ever list me. The link was unasked for. Unhinted about. Unlooked to. That's a generous gesture, and it made my day (sometimes it still makes my day). Because that's what these blogs can be about. A new community, right? Maybe not the New Jerusalem and twelve pearls for gates, but still, a new city, a new kind of neighbour. There'll always be those people who collect business cards or wedding invitations or blogroll links. Let them. Me, I link for four reasons: 1st, it's only polite to say hello to someone when that someone says hello to you; 2ndly, if you can't be proud of the people you know, who the blazes are you proud of, exactly?; 3dly, it's my library, and I read them nearly every day, or at least check them out (ha!); and 4thly, just like your friends, your clothes, too, the books on your shelves, or lack of books, the movies you watch, what you drink (or not), just like everything you surround yourself with, these links help define you. Define me. Is that the worst thing in the world?

Reading: Back on this horse again, and it's a good ride. The author is a master stylist, with a subtle, almost snide sense of humour. Does that sound like a bad thing? It isn't. You need every bit of entertainment you can get when reading The History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire + Edward Gibbons

Listening: Tony Bekker released a sophomore cd recently, and now's he's got a date opening for Final Fantasy on July 22. You know what that means, right? He's practically best friends with Arcade Fire, that's what that means. Man! Anyway, the new stuff got me thinking about the old stuff. There're some beautiful tracks on that first cd, "Moving Pictures, Silent Films" especially, but the unquestionable stand-out is the fragile Lightfooted resignation of "I Will Never See The Sun" + Great Lake Swimmers

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Not About [Him]

I refuse to post anything about Harry Potter. I'm an unfan. Yes [forcefully], I went to that Harry Potter Party in St. Albert. But, listen, you. Me posting this is me not-posting this. After a long ride through the dusty mesquite and the high plains, and before striding grimly through those folding doors to face the double-dealing hog-stealer who shot your best girl, could you loop your horse's reins around this post? No? No, then. Because this isn't a post, and not about Harry Potter.

Reading: Not Harry Potter, that's for sure. Late last night, different prose, sturdy prose, kept me awake, Lewis fabling on about the human condition. No, that's glib. Lewis wrote a wonderful book, clear and strong, unequivocal. There's a criminal, her crimes are terrible, her wrong-doing is against herself. You feel pity for the stubborn girl (I feel pity for her). You wish (I wish) she had made easier choices, not nearly-revelled in hardship and jealousy. This a book about barbarian thought, Greek dialogue, Christian culture. This is a book about life. Life is hard. Those who make it harder are sorrowful criminals. The heroine of this story is a wrong-doer. I am a wrong-doer. Everyone who reads this book is a wrong-doer. A brilliant novel, and the author a brilliant author, articulate, examining, honest, a pleasure to know through his novel. Till We Have Faces + Clive Staples Lewis

Listening: This is the saddest song ever written "Napoleon, like anyone can even know that." Don't quote Dynamite dialogue at me! Who gives a care, this song is wonderful and sad, and disheartening, but also very beautiful. "Look at me, girl, and sing me a song/ I'm longing for words, cause mine are all gone/ But we'll be alright, after all, it's just a nightmare." Oh, but the nightmare doesn't end, though, does it? The man's upside-down in illusion. He's hiding from himself, can hide from himself no longer. Does he want the girl, really? He had her once. Or is what he's longing for something differently edged, not the girl but a life in which he truly desires the girl? She's singing in the background for him, but his lonely hating voice gets louder and louder, nearly drowns her out. Sadly, in the video, the bare-footed jagged-toothed singer never even looks at the girl behind him. The last line lingers after the last notes have passed, "Why can't you just wake me up?" Maybe, maybe later, but not now, not with the dark water rising across the mud, not in the cruellest months, not this "April & May" + David Fridlund

Saturday, July 16, 2005

It Makes Me Smile And Keeps My Teeth Clean

Annie would be the perfect spokesman. You know how they can make those computer chips out of lasers now, right? Little bit of light and a few refractory molecules? What about installing a song on one of those chips, burying the pressure-activated chip inside a stick of gum, and hey, off you go, blowing pop-pop bubbles to "Hollaback Girl"? That's bananas! Wait, Radiohead would be an even better spokesman (spokesband?). We'd broadcast the sound over a little amped-up speaker in the packaging. Chewers would walk around with a little halo of music glowing around their heads. We're talking, what, a $900.00 dollar stick of gum here? Hey, iPods were a fortune once, too, I know you remember it. You'll all be thinking of me when this blows up big in the future.

J thinks this stuff should be called Soundbites. Crystal didn't act all that impressed. Everybody, sit down.

Reading: I forgot how to read over the week-end. I'm barely beginning to pick up the alphabet thing again. These vowels are killer, why don't people just draw pictures?

Listening: Down the hallway, past that girl wearing the new white high-tops, and duck over to the Audio/Video section. Bit old, and never (I think) got a proper release here in NA, but, come on, anything on the wicked keen 679 label bears repeated attention. Can you imagine what a destroyer DFA79 could hammer out of this? Or out of "Greatest Hit"? Or "Heartbeat"? Yes! Somebody inform the relevant parties! Quick, let's go back and watch "Chewing Gum" + Annie

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

R Is For Rocket, Mr. Lorenz

I see Ben Kingsley with a soft white cone of this-is-the-future hair. I see Tyrannosaurus rex! I see a floating steel path, a monster made of insects, a vampire bat (eyes as big as nickels!), I see a gathering storm. What do I see?

I see a film shot like it's 1969. And Ray Bradbury finds me out all over again.

Certain people say that Bradbury offers little but childish passions, adolescent imagination distilled in hyperbole (distilled?). Some of them think that's a viable reason not to read, not to love, not to out-right ape the man! Their loss, their loss. R Is For Rocket was always one of my favourite Bradbury collections. I loved the cover art of my cheap, childhood editions, grey in Dickensian formals, or distantly Treasure Island alien. The title of this collection is pure and honest, and hungrily points to the Golden Age of Science Fiction. It's a shame the stories don't stand up to the setting. Bradbury, admittedly, is uneven. His masterpieces are indisputable, easy to identify. The rest of his output is not so pretty. Which is not to say it is not worth reading. Bradbury's worst (and how low it can go!) is still worth the tree it was printed on. So this is a good collection, but let's be reasonable. If it wasn't Bradbury, and if he hadn't written these stories on that golden-voiced typewriter of his, there are stories in here which would never again have seen the light of the reader's imagination. "A Sound Of Thunder" is one of those stories. Original concept (le butterfly), brilliant pictures (le t-rex, etc.), and a solidly American Gothic conclusion (oui, Poe would have been proud). But the holes in the plot are bigger monsters than the beast in the story. Will the film version of this text fix these holes? What am I thinking, of course it will! That's what a film always does! Makes it better, makes it new. Whatever. Bradbury is golden wherever you find him.

Reading: There are too many good books. Everybody knows. Because there's no end to the great reads being published out there. And what about all the great reads from the past? For most of them, sadly, I only have sighs. But this one, I'm reading it. It's well worth putting off other good books to read The Egoist + George Meredith

Listening: Not two days after I listened to a random mp3 from Said The Gramaphone and discovered for myself an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING SINGER I LOVE HIS STUFF AT LEAST HIS NEWEST CD I found out that he was coming to town—and I couldn't go! This is life, my friends. These are the little details. But there's still the music, right? Listen to this song, then, because it is good. And by "good" I mean EXCELLENT! Wait for the drum to kick in. And there's a beautiful chiming chorallemme throughout. Should there be more? Wolf Parade has been beaten in the march, Okkervil River has lost the current, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! can't clap louder, speak better, than this song. They're all beautiful, those boys, but more so is "Goodbye/ nickel + dime/ waste of time" + Jon-Rae And The River

Monday, July 11, 2005

Sunday Is For Furniture

Friday was for partying, and I had a great time. What made it even better was some shiny Prozzäk in the player on the way down to 64 Ave. Whatev, it was locked, it was that kind of night. Rearranged the birthday man's furniture while most everyone else was in the kitchen, switched all the New Age inspirational pictures in the room, brought back a fistful of cigars from Whyte with a friend of Crystal's and kept those puffies handy in the mailbox. The life I lead, it's crazy. Talked wildly to people I knew and people I didn't know. Avoided the hot tub (this is a GOOD thing), mauled the cats, starred in a series of jump-sequence-pictures (sorry, too long to explain if you don't understand), and got home pretty early, too, say around three.

Saturday was for working. Well. I was only 15 minutes late, not too bad. Dapo was 45 minutes late, and that WAS bad. He's got the key for the store, you understand. But the whole day was made in the sweet soft shade once the straight shift ended, because I got to ride one of those mini-bikes round and round the enormous parking lots. It was little and gold, and made fifty kms feel like five hundred. I thought I was going to be Stephen Hawking when I hit the first bump (Ryan had already cartwheeled and crashed the beast that morning), and I couldn't stop laughing.

To Crystal's, and furniture, because furniture is good. Furniture is top-notch. Furniture, it turns out, is why God invented Sunday. Lots of peeps think God was boosting rest on Sunday. This, it turns out, may be an error in translation. What the scribes thought was "rest" turns out to have been ancient Hebrew for "awkwardly heavy boards which probably won't fit together, plus they're very scratchable, plus some assembly required (you better believe it), plus THAT STUPID KITTEN IS TEARING APART EVERY FRIGGING ATOM OF STYROFOAM-PACKING IN THE CASE AND IT'S A BIG CASE". Which is a lot of ideas on one little verb, but I tried it out, and they're all there, the blood, the sweat, the tears. It's like a whole seventies rock revival in one little word.

Lastly, London. More people have died, more are likely to die. The bombs have not really finished exploding. For some people, some families, certain girlfriends and boyfriends, particular co-workers, loyal customers, long-time neighbours, hallway nodders, that holder of a secret crush, that classmate, that careerist, that fellow-dreamer, fellow-stranger, fellow-life-to-be-lived, for that future, which was to be and now is forever not—for that person, those bombs will never stop exploding. And to that person, those people, that future, I cannot make a difference, cannot give anything, except these words, very little words, only the smallest words. And what are words against a bomb?

: The Egoist + George Meredith
Listening: "(Angry Kids Of The World) Unite" + Tiger Tunes

Thursday, July 07, 2005

"London Is The Place For Me"

Are the cowards who killed innocent tourists and British citizens in London Town today, are these murderers unaware of the city's history?

#1 Spring and summer of 1665, the Great Plague rages over London. Counts are unclear, but estimates say more than 100 000 people died painfully. Over half the city stays at home, Samuel Pepys, among them, refusing to leave. Winter should bring relief.

#2 1666, a bitter cold season. The Great Fire burns for five days, 13 200 houses up in flames, 436 acres in ashes, four fifths of the city razed to the ground. The city rebuilds.

#3 Bonnie Prince Charlie, uncrowned leader of the Jacobite rebellion, leads a Scottish army to within a day's march of London. It's 1745 and the near-defenceless city draws up its gates and waits grimly for the worst. But the Prince listens to discouraging counsel and turns away.

#4 They came just after dark. The bombs fell for fifty-seven days in a row, the worst explosion wrenching 450 souls from their English bodies. So began the Blitz, England's nightmare from the sad autumn of 1940 to the spring of 1941, London the burning focus of the bombing. The Queen would not leave, Winston Churchill would not go, and while the city refused to panic, the country built airforces and armies with a vengeance. "The idea of England folding up," said one man, "that's a joke."

#5 1993, the bombing of London by the IRA begins. Insurance companies refuse to insure property against violence, due to the high cost and liability of terrorism by the Irish Republican Army. London's response? Eat your breakfast, go to work, watch some television. The IRA is now slowly fading away.

#6 Nine o'clock in the morning, July 7, 2005. Four bombs are detonated in the city, 38 people killed, more than 300 wounded. An organization calling itself "The Secret Organization of al-Qaeda Jihad In Europe" takes credit for murdering innocent people, tourists, for Godsake. And London's answer? Looks like London already has an answer. The cowards who killed innocents just to get the gov't's attention are either incredibly ignorant of British culture, or lack the intelligence to correctly anticipate the city's response. In other words, they're murdering fools.

London is not Madrid, England is not Spain. The Spanish may have covered their faces, but these Britons, this city, will not fall down. Pale horsemen have come against London many times, their silver swords swinging high in the air. All have fallen by the highway, their ashy carcasses absorbed by the city. London has many graves, has buried many children in the dark earth. Do the city's enemies think London has no graves for them? This city is not built only of pavement or concrete, the blood of its body is not only the blood of its citizens: London is of all time, every age, history itself. It will be Time, finally, which shall make the graves of the terrorists. These murderers think they are coming violently against England in her finest city, but they are already fallen to footnotes, absorbed by the history which composes her, the people who love her, the nation she leads, and the world she has made. The city is dead? Long live the city! London is a queen and cannot die.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Six-Pack Moz

The VI Books Morissey Most Likely Keeps In His After-Hours Cocktail Cabinet of Solid Reads

James and I started talking, and this list was the result. Kudos to you, J, especially on the first pick. This kid is so raven. Say what?

Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret: There is no way Morissey hasn't regularly night-tabled this little pink paperback of perfect Americana ever since he came across it in that beige-carpeted car-dealership at a squalid Chelsea mall. Why was it sitting on the agent's desk? Morissey gave her a wry smile and pocketed the novel after scanning the blurbs on the back. The agent never acted on the theft, not knowing that Morissey loathed automobiles and would never buy one from her. The pink-shirted man was dallying with her capitalist agenda. Pasting "Morissey" across "Margaret" probably happened no more than three paragraphs into the novel.

Wuthering Heights: Morissey looked up Emily Bronte's novel six months ago, having just watched the MTV film version of the same name. He fell in love with the novel, of course. Everybody does. But why hasn't he returned the DVD? Is stealing from Bandito Video the kind of ironic gesture with which Morissey fills the daily void?

Something Under The Bed Is Drooling: It's a little known fact, but, before he began reading Calvin & Hobbes, Morissey once had an imaginary friend who considered Morissey to be a stuffed tiger. This imaginary friend's parents thought of Morissey as no more than the product of the overexcited, rather macabre imagination of their son. They were right. Morissey waxes sardonic over this paradox in several songs.

To The Lighthouse, or anything by Virginia Woolf, the most elegantly depressing author to ever write a novel about androgyny and then fill her pockets with stones and sadly drown in a river. Morissey can't swim, though, and won't go near water. Liverpool doesn't count.

Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, A Young Man And Life's Greatest Lesson: This one really choked Moz up. And he never made it past the title! Which was really because the singer threw a petulant rage when he realized "Morrie" was short for someone other than himself.

40 Years of "Coronation Street": Mostly because he stopped watching EastEnders after the cast performed "Thriller" in 2002, Morissey purchased this book as an unhappy birthday present for himself. Oh, Jackson was always too unambiguously sexual for the English singer's stomach. Perversely, Moz has never really been a Corrie fan; the doom and gloom of EastEnders had suited his sociable yet depressed outlook for many years. This book still remains unread, the flyleaf hardly bent. He's thinking of trading it in at the pawn shop for a lunar globe or some of those ceramic animals that used to come with the packets of Red Rose Tea.

Reading: The Rule Of Four + Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason

Listening: You've got to wait nearly two minutes for the good stuff to kick out in the last chorus and it's a good idea to look at the video meanwhile. The lizard plays guitar, a catfish rattles some drums, odd mer-things sing "Aah", and what about Ice Cream & Babies? Everybody travel arcade-game style to the magic raft and sing "Do The Whirlwind" + Architecture In Helsinki

Friday, July 01, 2005

26 Strikes For War Of The Worlds

Intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. Amazing hook, a killer line. And Morgan Freeman's resonant voice makes the fantastic as fitting and matter-of-fact as falling down the rabbit hole. War Of The Worlds is a superb film, solid and sensational. The effects are incredible, there's nothing modern films can't delineate. People are comparing this film to Jaws, saying Spielberg ramps up the horror as good as he's ever done. That's true. Then they say the film cops out as soon as we've actually seen the aliens. And the aliens aren't horrible, that's true, too, but then, aliens are never horrible, not anymore. Monsters (true monsters, Grendel-stuff, inescapable man-eating nightmares) can be bad, but no one blinks anymore when Alien breaks out of another body. We've seen that violence all too often. But Spielberg goes clever, I think, and gives his audience something to see that will make this film a rental for years to come.The big reveal isn't the aliens, after all. That's a mistake on the viewer's part. The aliens are just pilots, part of the horrifying machines. The big reveal is The Victims. Soon as we see it's red, we get an idea of what the strange plants around the machines might be. But when we realize what that matter actually is, Godsake! Spielberg moves from horror to the horrific in classic Edgar Allan Poe style. Just like some of Poe's best work turns unseen horror into grotesque parodies, we're shocked to see the actual reality of what's being done to the human victims. The damage and the damaged, not the diabolus ex machina, become the hurting centre of this blood-soaked film. It's Twilight Zone, its Jaws, it's The Pit And The Pendulum. There's a few telling lines of broad social dialogue, of course (this IS a Spielberg film, after all): one of them, Dakota Fanning's flawlessly timed, "Is it terrorists?" brings back everything I felt when my brother shook me awake and convinced me that the USA was being attacked. Spielberg works with pretty obvious strokes here, but that's how he does it, that's his style. And don't blame the director for the weak ending to this film, either. At least the man makes it a quick ending. The homecoming scenes and the you-know-what are straight out of the novel, Morgan Freeman's last quote word for word from the original page. The strengths of this film far outnumber the weaknesses. H.G. Wells' The War Of The Worlds is a shocker, and so is this film. Listen, the riot scene alone was worth the price of admission! And the machines, boss, the machines!

Reading: I don't think you can call what I'm doing with We Need To Talk About Kevin reading, you know? More like I'm letting the story just happen in front of me. This novel is a sponge, I'm getting absorbed and suffocated by it, just excellent, excellent. Thank-you, Crystal. Anyway, Lionel Shriver wrote it.
Listening: They're not exactly subtle but that's not exactly the point. The band's description of the cd previous to the one this song is on goes: "Things get intense. Old Testament violence, the Book of Revelation as read by Roger Corman, true love in Infocom parsing errors and the most brutal Buchla synth composition recorded in these 2000s (it's 52 minutes long). Smash-mastered as hot as we could get it." Most of those old words still apply to this newer release. Plus, young voices quickly clarion "Whoo!" four times across the singer's frantic ravings."Vampire Beats" + Mae Shi