Friday, September 30, 2005

The Good Times, They're Always Coming Back

Congratulations to her, because she succeeded, of course, just like I said she would, even though she thought she wouldn't. Congratulations, because she's kept her head through some terrible times, very sad days. Because when other people would have folded, she remained standing. Because when other people crashed and could not help crashing, she kept flying. She never thinks highly of herself, never gives herself an even break, or an uneven, or a break at all. Never realizes how personal and funny and warm-around-the-edges she can make anyone feel. Because she's stylish. Because she's tall. Because she's a fighter, and funny, and loses her temper, likes Lemony Snicket and speaks pretty good French. Because she owns that Will Smith album. Because she's dragged that unopened Monopoly game through two apartments and more. Because she basically blew off the bassist from controller.controller. Because she loves her cat. And loves me. And lets me love her. Congratulations, girl. You know why.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I Agree With R.E.M., But Feeling Fine?

The world came to a banal and bitter end yesterday. I had always pictured something different, you know? Jesus with a face like lightning appears in the eastern sky, twelve million angels in glittering clouds of doom on either side. All vehicles spin into ditches or trashcans, the refrigerators in the 7-Eleven stop humming, every lock falls away from its door. If the world wasn't going to bite it like that, I figured Islam would nuke the globe in an ultimate reaction against pig-headedly oppressive Western ideas like free trade, rights of the individual and Doctors Without Borders. I'd probably be watching reruns of Friends in the latter scenario, so the end of the world might not look like such a bad idea, then. Except I wouldn't get to see the next episode of Gilmore Girls, would I? Dernit. Hang in there, Rory!

You know what I'm talking about, I can see it in your saddened eyes, too. Hello, there. You must be a Canadian, right? I know. I, too, am a stranger in a strange land. I look around and realize, "These are not my people". My people, you see, DO NOT VOTE FOR THE DA VINCI CODE AS BEST BOOK OF ALL TIME. Godsake, have you seen the list? I read Confessions Of A Shopaholic some time ago. I've read the whole series, and it's hilarious. Kudos to Kinsella for writing it. But Shopaholic is rated two spots ahead of the Bible, folks. THE BIBLE! Because, you know, the zany lifestyle of Rebecca Bloomwood has created entire cultures, spawned world religions, shaped the bleeding fabric of ever loving history itself, right? RIGHT? Steinbeck rated below Mists Of Avalon? The Notebook ahead of Tolstoy? People, I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here! Can Canadians no longer distinguish what they like from what is best? The only thing missing off the list, far as I can tell, is The Bridges Of Madison County. You know what? Kick both the Brontës off the list. We need to make room for Jonathan Livingston Seagull, too. Kids, is this why I watched my buddies die face-down in the muck in Vietnam? To watch you give the Medal of Honour to Dan Brown?

Empowered by my new knowledge of the mechanics of the popular mind, I'm going to make a bunch of confident assertions here. These are pearls, kids. Pearls.

Barbra Streisand will make a "comeback" record with Barry Gibb. Wait, that's already happening?
David Spade will win the 2010 Oscar for Actor In A Leading Role.
Muddy teal will be the new black
Cancer will be cured. Tomorrow. At 6PM EST.
Tim Horton's will go bankrupt. Tomorrow. At 6PM EST.
Every single person in the world will be required to use "Microsoft" for their middle name in less than four years. Resistance is futile. Trespassers will be shot.
The internet is good for you. So are Doritos.

Reading: You're kidding me, right? Reading? Yeah, and I goose-step on Veteran's Day, too. Have some respect, please.

Listening: Wintersleep is just another Clap Your Wolf Parade, Say Arcade Fire! Don't pay attention to any of them. They're good, I know, but that's boring. I want terrible. Destructive, even. Yeah, but that gets boring, too. What's a hipster to do, then? Hang on, hang on. What about these guys? They're crooking their pinkies at everyone, they say so in the lyrics. Let's take refuge from cynicism and bejadedness in mockery. Let's. You like the newer Of Montreal? You'll like these guys. This band is Hamlet, and good clear guitar, and lazy aggression, at least on "The Vice And Virtue Ministry" + The Happy Bullets

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I Get The Irony And You Will, Too

I like being Jewish. I'm not saying I am Jewish, but I'm not saying I'm not, either. But I really enjoy the whole Hebrew thing. The dreidel song, Chrismukkah, Heeb Magazine, the sweet sweet Pentateuch and a shicksa girlfriend. What's not to love? I leave my degree of Jewishness for others to decide.

Reading: By the time I was fourteen, I had read pretty much the entire Golden Age of mystery fiction (we were too poor to afford Monopoly), including Allingham, Marsh, Chesterton, Simenon, Van Dine, Stout, Rohmer and the great trifecta, The Christie, The Carr, and The Sayers. Once a novel was done, I moved on to the next one, rarely returning to the stories I'd already read—with one exception. I have never stopped reading the detective novels of Dorothy Leigh Sayers. As detective novels go, her books are solid and solvable, a lot like a healthy crossword on Sunday morning. There might be some bizarrely phrased clues, but focus on the details, and you'll quickly fill out the spaces. Well, one can do that with any good detective novel, can't one? The reason I keep returning to Sayers is simple; her books are uniformly excellent novels which happen to contain a mystery. And because her novels contain a mystery which will inevitably be solved, which must be solved if her hero is to be vindicated in his choices and lifestyle, the novel always concerns itself not only with crime and justice, but the effect which these two abstracts have upon the public and private individual. Unfailingly, the private individual achieves personal satisfaction by upholding his or her personal code, a code which is harmonious with the public good. Good character creates good citizenship. Sayers' principal creation is Lord Peter Wimsey, a sort of early Bruce Wayne. Like the aristocratic Wayne, Wimsey acts the boffin, spending his huge fortune on this or that opera girl, this or that swift super-car, this or that family servant. And also, like Wayne, Wimsey has a secret identity. Wimsey's soul was severely damaged in WWI, and he suffers from what we today would call shell-shock. Sayers, not content with giving Wimsey the literal authority of the peerage, gives him the authority of his actions: as one of the fighters in the front-lines, Wimsey has achieved a sort of moral authority over his fellow Britons. Naturally, Wimsey becomes an amateur detective. But Sayers, still not content with giving her hero only a hidden character, gives him a literal superhero identity in my favourite of her novels, Murder Must Advertise. But let's face it, the transition between daytime gormless Wimsey and nightime deadly Harlequin is awkwardly done, and if it wasn't for her extremely literary writing style, one would dismiss Sayers as the worst of Chesterton or Stout. But Sayers' skill would come to full flower in later novels like Unnatural Death, which confidently bridges the tricky gap between serious and silly in just a few phrases, and without switching costumes.

[Lord Peter] stretched his hand, and the hand's shadow flew with it, hovering over the gilded titles of the books and blotting them out one by one.

What a beautiful line. The smallest paragraph, and Sayers has successfully transformed the prince of non-sequiturs into a stern and Gothic ghost in the machine. Unnatural Death revolves around the untimely but unremarkable death of Agatha Dawson. The novel, however, is not about Agatha Dawson, but about death without conscience, crime without justice. The novel is about the successful crime, the murder which never made the papers, the theft which nobody missed. Lord Peter Wimsey does not know what he does not know, but he fears it. And he finds blissful ignorance out, and he drags it to the light of the law, and the guilty are punished for the death of the innocent. The last image in this novel is of Wimsey and a policeman making their way through an unnaturally dark June day, cold and raining. "What is wrong with the day?" Lord Peter asks, "Is the world coming to an end?". The policeman replies, "No. It's the eclipse". The world does not neccessarily becomes a better place merely because the wrong-doer is caught and punished. But with the wreckage cleared away like so many briars and thorns, the world now has a chance to become its ideal, to realize the personal code of honour and integrity which every individual owes society and which society, most of all, owes its citizens. The sun will come out again. Unnatural Death is an unnaturally good novel. It also happens to contain a mystery. Unnatural Death + Dorothy L. Sayers

Listening: "And the bears and bees and banana trees / Will play kazoos and tambourines / And Jesus will dance as we drink his wine / With soldiers and thieves and a sword in his side." I can't do better than to quote Sean's words on STG about the easy inevitable nature of the lyrics in this Page France song, especially as I never would have heard this song without his excellent website.

Okay, imagine you have a twig, a good brown twig the breadth of your thumb. And you snap it in half. And you throw the two pieces of twig to either side of a forest. And then a lonely person comes along and picks up one of the pieces of twig. He thinks life's meaningless and lame. He wanders. At the other side of the wood he idly picks up the other piece of twig. And look! Lo! They fit together! Just. Like. That. And for a long moment he's in awe of the way the world can just make things come together in the rightest way

Like everybody else, I first ran into Page France on Fluxblog, and I've been listening to "Chariot" ever since, but this song is better. Why don't you decide for yourself, though? Listen to "Chariot" and then listen to "Jesus" + Page France

Friday, September 23, 2005

Hot Apple Cider, A Glass Of Feist Tea

Walking along the small yellow-leaved streets between University and Whyte Ave, cold air, blue sky, paper cup of instant apple-cider in my hand and the tall trees by that hotel like red lights against light-red brick, I think, I wish to live forever, and foolishly wish a moment to last eternally. Which is a fool's desire, of course. One thing, I love this season. One thing, this season and bright air quickly fade. One thing, things fall apart, and that's what makes them lasting in the always-vanishing heart. Did I rhyme? Let it go. Today, everything is well-shaped and fitting.

Reading: What I loved most about Ghost Dog: Way Of The Samurai was how the film so strongly differed from my expectations toward it. I don't recall what I expected from that movie, since I knew zip all about it aside from the poster. And, let's face it, posters are the pressed-fibre enemies of the audience, always devious, always betraying, paper quislings on the theatre wall. I offer no evidence of this two-facedness, by the way, except the evidence, the disappointments endured, which you store in your own hearts. That, and the poster for any Dennis Leary movie ever. Cripes! How can Leary's television be SO GREAT, and his movies so everlastingly blowing? Cripes! I'm digressing. What I really love about some books is how different from my expectations their contents can develop. This can be bad, sure (any Salman Rushdie novel, if that's the word, after Satanic Verses, anyone?) but it can be so unmeasurably positive, too. Folks, for instance, who've grown up on Disney's Winnie The Pooh have a beautiful surprise in store if they open Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh. The original outmatches the modern interpretations of it on every front. I was cleaning out my closet the other day—"One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries": Milne—and came across a book I'd read within the past twelve months, but which I immediately reread again. Anything to avoid cleaning. It's a solid book, a strong book, a book which Jim Jarmusch may one day make a movie out of, as he made a movie out of Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai. But this book is much more than an instruction manual; actually, this book contains no instruction whatsoever, unless it is practical directions for climbing mountains. What this book offers is what Thoreau offered in Walden—a persuasive glimpse at another world. These authors fool you (they fool me) with eloquent phrasing and better description of this world, their world, the rock and trees and trains and stations of life. But their words for this world are actually descriptions of the worlds within themselves, their hearts, their minds, the step-by-step construction of careful thought. What these men teach is appreciation, a supreme virtue, surely. A supreme book, too. Starlight And Storm + Gaston Rebuffat

Listening: I know you're probably tired of hearing about her, but look at the weather outside. What a day to listen to Feist. I was going to go back to this spring (last spring?) and post a link to just about anything off of Sunlandic by Of Montreal, and I would have, too, if Feist didn't exist, but she does, and that's so good. So what if the last words I wrote about her are still on this page? I'll write about someone new next time. For now, it's Feist. For now, the weather is crisp and all fitting-black-sweatery. Let's all wear dark jeans and quote Wordsworth and Rainer Maria Rilke. Let's listen to my favourite song of the past six months (the one at the bottom of the page), "It's Cool to Love Your Family" + Feist

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Dad, The Moon Is Alphane Again!

Novel + blog + girlfriend (Happy Birthday, Crystal! Happy Birthday Month!) + 50 000 novel + school + essays/assignments + job + damn emails keep piling up + Arcade Fire/Corb Lund/Metric?/Feist + that cd I owe Kyle + wouldn't it be nice to get that Myspace thing running? + untogetherness of self = AAAGGGHHH!!! Godsake, imagine if I had a real life, with real problems. K, time for some Doritos.

Reading: Cinderella's ugly step-sisters cleavered off their heels trying to cram those size twelve horse-hoofed digits into the crystal size five slipper. Blood everywhere, you can't even imagine, and the painfulness, too. What a mess. But a very entertaining mess, I'll give the uglies that, bloody but entertaining. See, every day I go to the fifth floor of Rutherford and read, for twenty-five minutes, a little red hardcover called Clans Of The Alphane Moon. Now, you've probably seen those skeleton shirts, right, the ones that have white ribcages printed on the black cloth? The kind which become popular around Halloween? Kate Winslett wore one in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, a film which, the discerning reader will already have noted, I referenced in my last post, because it's the only movie I've ever seen. I have no knowledge of film outside that movie. Back to the discerning reader, Clans Of The Alphane Moon is not for him. COTAM is for me, the guy who, sure, likes his soft-cover Thomas Pynchon, but will probably finish the lusciously tacky (there's that first-year Fine Arts vocabulary) Frazetti-covered Tarzan At The Earth's Core a lot faster than The Crying Of Lot 49. What I'm saying is, COTAM isn't a book, it's bare plot, a shiningly skeletal what-comes-next teetering in delicate slippers of conceptual prose. And the thing about those shirts, if you'll let me return to a digression, is that you haven't really got the whole skeleton there, have you? The rib cage, a flash of collarbone, maybe, perhaps even a small green lizard furled cartoonishly around one of the ribs, but that's quality, and you don't see too much of that, now do you? The point is, Mr. Bones isn't all there. And neither is this novel. The author has had to slice off too many elements of the novel in order to concentrate on his main concept, which is this: the inmates are running the asylum. Years ago, Earth outright defeated the Alphans. Then, cleverly exploiting their victory, the human race banished all their mentally unstable bits to the Alphan moon. These bits have formed new societies along heavily biased and paranoid lines. Earth wants the moon back, now, and complications ensue. Look, this novel sucks. The concept isn't enough. But I'm still reading it. The characters are all wading around in the shallow end, there's intricate convoluted labyrinthine plot-beasts chewing up the pages, and I swear half the novel is padding (and not just in the holding cells), but I'm still reading it. Because this novel is by Philip K. Dick, and let's face it, his junk should be most people's treasure. You should look for some buried treasure yourself. Try on some new shoes. Maybe look, with me, in Clans Of The Alphane Moon + Philip K. Dick

Listening: Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! Arcade Fire! I love this here interwebbery. I love bootlegged videos. I love David Bowie singing with Arcade Fire. I LOVE DAVID BOWIE SINGING WITH ARCADE FIRE! I also love Arcade Fire on Letterman, but the video is terrible, and the sound blows. But look at the guy (William Butler, I think) beating that drum, going AC/DC on the floor!

Friday, September 16, 2005

A Day At The Racist

"But God does love racists," he said.

"God loves everyone," the other guy replied.

"Yeah," he said, "but he loves white people more. Look at us palefaces. Always outnumbered, always outgunned. But it's been over a thousand years now, and we still don't have to make our beds in the morning."

The other guy rolled his eyes, and vaguely waved his hand at the burgundy bus seats. "Yeah, and we get to ride in style."

"Really?" I chimed in. "The bus is the place to be? The cool kids are tired of the Mercedes?"

"Mercedes!" said the other guy."I'm rolling on twenty-four inch rims here, man."

Reading: I realize the title of my post is, at best, ungrammatical. That's not because I don't know grammar. It's because I hate language. You know what language does, aside from letting itself be awkwardly personified (and it only allows that because it's bored of twirling those swizzle sticks they put in cheap martinis, as if a three-coloured straw in any way made up for watered-down alcohol and fractured conversation with the opposite sex)? Language lets itself get seen in the company of bad books, like you with those tacky friends of yours I won't stop loudly disliking on sight. God, your friends are snobs! With all the bad books junking up the libraries, it's no wonder English is losing ground faster than my Great Dane-owning neighbour. His lawn could look so much better if he got rid of the god spelled backwards, you know? And English isn't losing ground? Well, I'm not about to let English lose a half-assed metaphor either, so I'm going to pretend that it IS losing, ok? If you ever read what I read, you would be convinced, as I was convinced, that we should burn the English language at the stake. Did you read the one about Isaac Newton and the Murders In The Rue Mint? One of the SIPs (Statistically Improbable Phrases) listed for this book is "cunny parts". Right. What? One Fanny Hill per language is enough, author guy. Two is plagiarism. Nobody likes used porn. Also, our ancestors never had sex. The author does not seem to realize this, and insists on sticking sex in even where it won't go. Also, having Isaac Newton lard his speeches with every quotation filed under "Newton, Isaac" in Bartlett's is the lamest cheapest substitute for actual research or original thought ever dreamed up since I first thought of it. And even I rejected doing that (but only after I found out other people read Bartlett's, too, and not just Kirsten Dunst in Eternal Sunshine). This book is a poor man's Sherlock Holmes, without Sherlock Holmes. It's a poor man's Fanny Hill, but mostly without the fanny. Whatever you do, do not read Dark Matter: The Private Life Of Sir Isaac Newton: A Novel + Philip Kerr

Listening: I notice that three out of my last four posts have listed somebody from the whole endless paper-man-chain that is Broken Social Scene. So when I came across a new BSS song on Said The Gramaphone, I bit the bullet, pulled out the glue-gun and pasted the link. Here it is. It's good. I'm fighting it, but yeah, it's good. Come on, people! What happened to Canrock? Where's The Tea Party, Our Lady Peace, Moist, The Crash Test Dummies, The Tragically Hip, Sam Roberts? Where's the generic roar of mid-line bass and mid-tempo drums and middling lyrics sung by the talentless hacks of yesterday (Crash Test Dummies excepted). Nickelback can't do it alone, people. I feel like we're losing control of our culture, here. I'm going to go watch a Canadian Heritage Moment, maybe the one about the female student learning surgery with the men, ok? Not that she's hot or anything. Really, she's not. You go listen to "Ibi Dreams Of Pavement (A Better Half)" + Broken Social Scene

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Imperial Beginnings, Metric Final

I said, "Is it better to open with a sensational line, like a Dick Francis novel—'I looked at my friend and saw a man who had robbed me', or, 'They both wore thin rubber masks'—or is it better to open with something mildly interesting, like Jane Eyre's 'There was no possibility of taking a walk that day'? Which is better, the brash or the subtle?"

"Better?" he said. "The best is entirely different from these. Go to Jane Austen: 'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife'. It's surprising, because it's an amusing opening line. And when does that ever happen? Brilliant. It's subtle because it approaches a major latterly-explained theme of the novel indirectly, through satire. Set-up, set-up, set-up. It's engaging, because it's a supremely well-written well-weighted sentence. It's better, because, without sacrificing the what-comes-next of all good opening lines, it's far more self-explanatory, say, than Orwell's 'It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen'. Sensational, that. Instant get-up-and-go. Orwell's opening is so arresting, it should be charged for illegally impersonating an officer of the law. What a burner of a line—but Austen's is better, son, it's just so much better."

I signed up, months ago, to write a 50 000 word novel in 30 days. Because that's how I roll, suckers. And even though none of us flagellants who signed up are allowed to write one word of le actual plot before midnight on the day, I'm obsessing over opening lines. And I just can't decide.

Reading: Nevermind the politics of it. The king insults the dead, and the families of the dead, by ordering the fallen carcasses of his enemies to lie unburied on the highway. The sister of the unburied man refuses to let her brother's body publicly rot. She breaks the king's rule and is killed. Her lover, the king's son, attacks his father, but then kills himself. His mother, the king's wife, hears that her son is dead and also kills herself. The king is ruined and can barely speak. You thought Lear did it first, or Saul before him, but no, it was Creon, who, speaking loudly and angering divinity, first brought destruction upon himself through his own damn careless words. That's what hung him. Leave him alone, you say? Have you read the play? It's hard to pity the fool, you know, when he's such a proud blistering ass. Don't believe me? Your heart's harder than the king's in Antigone + Sophocles

Listening: She's good, ok, and I love her voice singing "For the love of God" after she sings "But the war won't stop". And, one day, she might leave her band, I can see it, and find her stride hitting singles out of the park in a home-run contest with Gwen Stefani. "No doubt", you say, and nod your head. This is, what, the fourth time she's hit Edmonton in the last twelve months? I like her, I keep saying, and you like her, too, that's obvious, but she likes us just as much as we like her. Which is why she'll be here for the fresh new CD on the 27th. Well, but forget us for a moment, what about Down South? She's doing one thing to the Americans I never thought anybody could. She's selling them on the Metric system, isn't she? But then, why not? I don't think this band has put out one single bad song. She's part of the whole Broken Social Scene, too, like just about every friggin indie-darling in Canada outside of the two loners in DFA79. Listen, when it comes down to it, the music is solid, her voice is wonderful and confident, and the band takes away all excuses to dance and hands out little cards with "Permision To Strike Poses" printed on them in a quasi-miltary font. Cadence Weapon likes them, Fluxblog has new stuff. Go, Emily! Hit up the "Media" option on their website for some stellar "Dead Disco" + Metric

Monday, September 12, 2005

Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?

One of that brightly-haloed generation which put an end to the Dark Ages, Sanctorius Sanctorius wrote a book titled Methods For Avoiding Errors, which called for analyzing particulars only after diagnosing the possible generalities which spawned them. In other words, context is everything. Is this lesson so hard to remember?

Reading: What is best in life? Back in Grade 9 or 10 or whenever it was, I loved reading this poem, mostly, I think, because of all the similar Conan the Barbarian imagery rattling around my head. "To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women". Lines like that, ridiculous even in the Conan movie, are not at all out of place in the grim world of Grendel. Halt! And read it not for the torturous imagery, the interminable consonance, the (to my modern ears) awkward phrasing—for in this poem, all those flaws become virtues, contributing strongly to the over-all effect of a grey broken world on the edge of doom and ruin—but read it because the hero wins, and the monsters are defeated. That's why they call it fiction. Read Beowulf + trans Seamus Heaney

Listening: The name is a bit long, and what's with the caps? Oh well, the music is solid. Ths isn't usually my scene, but the melodies are clear and the sound is loud, and really, can one ask for more than that? A friend turned me on to them Friday, and now I'm turning you on. To them. That is. Whatever. Their other tracks are good, but I like this one best, if only cause it's somewhat creepily called "Nature Of The Ghost " + BEDlight For BlueEYES

Friday, September 09, 2005

A Feisty Return

You know them, of course. God help you, maybe you're one of them, with the sadness in the back of their brown eyes, or that reckless way of turning a corner. They were there when the levee broke, or they couldn't stop the brakes failing on that car, or the cancer came and there was nothing they could do. I knew a missionary once, a wily old lady in northern India, and anytime anything bad, sad, negative or just right-out miserable happened, and she couldn't carry any of it, she said, "Adjust and carry on." She was very tough old lady.

I am not one of the tough people. I create my own problems. These problems are not at the levels of mayhem and misery that other people have experienced, but my world is pretty small, and they take up a lot of room. I do not recall ever having suffered at the hands of someone or something else. On July 27, I received a letter from the University. The letter was all bad. I was not to think of taking any more classes. My GPA was simply too low. The letter did not mention how I love University. It didn't mention that the study ("study", ha!) of English literature is one of my favourite things in the entire world. It didn't mention how much I use attending University to balance a multitude of failings in my life. It didn't, in short, end with the words, "Here's to being permanently kicked in the teeth, and congratulations, because you did it yourself."

Last autumn, you see, I was up against it. Because of a situation of my own making, money was a little less scarce than hen's teeth. And I hadn't found any hen's teeth since I was six years old, lost in a September wood near a reservoir in southern Ontario. Last autumn, then, I signed up for only two courses ("two" as in non-tax deductible, by the way, which I later and regretfully found out). But I didn't take both of those courses. That's not my style, you see. Instead, I took one and merely didn't attend the other. By the last class drop date, I'd forgotten I ever signed up for that course, even though I'd paid for the damn thing. Are there less intelligent people than myself? Sadly, I still retain enough sentience enough to understand just how unintelligent I am. Result? Unhappiness, oh my brothers, and piles of bleeding stress. Still, the skies remained unsilver and unlined, and I decided to take the winter semester "off" and work. Which I did. Which resulted in my taken class' "A" fighting against my unattended class' "F". Across an entire school year. Thus, the University's use of the Canadian postal system.

Well, I appealed of course. And the appeal stalled. And stalled. And wouldn't start. And the whole summer, day after day, the sun rose like it always did, and there were warm nights on Whyte Ave, and my girlfriend and I fought mildly and made up better, and I listened to good music, and buried myself in mediocre books, and I pretended that returning to University for fall semester was nothing extraordinary, a given, and not a gift, not something along the lines of miraculous. I still hadn't recieved an answer from the appeal board on September 7, the first day of classes. I got up around five-thirty am, that day. Got on the bus, and stared at the floor of that crowded vehicle for forty minutes. Made my way to the appeals office, but the advisor wasn't there, again. Left a message on the advisor's machine. Maybe she would be there at ten? Tried to take a short nap in the lobby, ended up flipping my cell open and shut for fifty-minutes. That's a personal tic that annoys just about everyone I know. Couldn't take it. Wandered off toward Rutherford. And the cell vibrated as I was walking through the near-deserted halls of Engineering. The advisor. Wanting to know why I was calling.

"Well, hadn't heard from you guys since last week."

She was shocked. "We sent you a registered letter on September 1."

"I haven't gotten anything, though."

So she read me the letter over the phone, while I leaned into a recessed window, and the warm sun, and the leaves outside, passing students, a crowd of talk and future and careers. And she said I was succesfully readmitted! I tell you, I turned around and hugged the broad white wall. Sure, the two freshmen behind me were not so impressed. But I'm back, people! And this year will be the best year of my life.

Reading: There are books which take a lifetime to read. I'm not talking the KJV or Huckleberry Finn which, let's face it, would take a lifetime to learn, nevermind read, I'm talking flat-out-time-spent-in-a-chair-turning-pages. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell just about had me in traction, but it's got nothing on what I'm reading now. But there's something strangely hypnotic about reading such a large work. I remember seeing my brother first opening War & Peace and the look of bland satisfaction on his face. That's what you get out of these big books, I think, or I do, anyways. Reading as accomplishment, right? Sort of like watching Gone With The Wind—never again—or reading the Globe & Mail. Yeah! I got through it! And I'm still alive. Which is good news. And on the plus side, I've become a walking encyclopedia on early-century gossip. I always liked Juvenal. He was a cut-mouth wise-ass, and this is the kind of stuff he would have snickered at. Want to know what Caligula really whispered to his horse? Did Maximus ever cheat at sports? Just where did Galba get his dark skin? This book has the answers, son. Check out The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire Vol II + Edward Gibbon

Listening: Whatever you do, do NOT look at the picture of Feist on the front of her site. Whoever that is, that is not Feist. How do I know? I own the CD and I've listened to her music. Feist is gorgeous. Feist is not that woman with the bad Ramones hair (like there's good Ramones hair?) and the "Kiss me, I'm drugged" eyes, looking like she's part of a shoplifting gang in central France. That's not my Feist. Feist is what you listen to on your way to an evening swim (I'm going downtown to the Grant Mac pool tonight). Feist is what you listen to as you order Belgian waffles. Feist knows words like "Mushaboom" and says, "It's cool to love your family". Feist is way better looking than the Feist in that picture. Forget Broken Social Scene. Remember that voice behind The Kings Of Convenience? Godsake, she sings with Jane Birkin. Go listen to the good-looking Feist, okay? The one who dances with that Buck 65 lookalike. Go to the video section and listen (it's only a sample) to the smoothest song outside of 1970. "One Evening" + Feist

Friday, September 02, 2005

On Blueberry Hill

The well-barbered man could have done better. He could have been on the flooded ground within hours. He could have been right there at the damn levee. But blaming George Bush for the looters? I can see where you're coming from, but look at the other side of the coin, that's all. There is always the other side, always. Are the American people so inherently lawless that they would quickly (three days, anyone?) yield to the pressure and opportunity to loot, pillage, even rape? Well, of course they are, dammit. They're humans. But that doesn't make the looters and the gangs any less responsible for their own actions. And it doesn't make GB any more or less responsible for them than he was the day before the hurricane pinwheeled New Orleans. The point I think is most disgusting is that many notable politicians, entertainers, bloggers, even (Daily Kos, I'm looking watchfully at you), are taking what should be an opportunity to help their neighbour and turning it into an opportunity to attack. Hopefully, this trend will decrease over the coming days and weeks, and people will use their anger and energy for positive ends, and not negative. Running George Bush down does nothing for New Orleans. It did nothing for the three thousand who died in the Twin Towers, it did nothing for the London deaths and deaths in Madrid, it's doing nothing for the millions of oppressed Sunnis, and it will do nothing for the thousands of people trapped in various superdomes across the USA. Luckily, I'm Canadian, and live so far and safely away from most everybody that I can afford to criticize the critics. Enough of them. Ignore Bush, too. What about the man standing in deep flood-water, the woman sleeping on an overpass, the nearly-dying elderly, the little children murdered? Forget about Bush. Forget about policy. Who cares about Republicans or Democrats? I hope Fats Domino is still alive. The old New Orleans saint said he was going to weather the storm in his house. And no more news. That part of the city is flooded, of course. It's only temporary. Blueberry Hill is going to outlast the Whitehouse, and it's going to wear out the haters and partisans, too. I hope Fats Domino is alright. I hope he's got some food, and a dry place, and a piano, maybe. And if he doesn't, and if everything is too late, the man died where he made his home, in the city where he made his music, a music that made the world, despite all manner of hurricanes, terrorists, tragedy and difficult change, a smoother and easier place to know. Because that's New Orleans, and that's Fats Domino. Leave the President be. We're apart, I see it, and hard times have come, hunger, and violence. But the world is still here, and one day you'll be easy and smooth again, and, if you aren't and it isn't, well, I know some good music to while away the day with, and you do, too. Let's say a prayer for Biloxi.

[Edit: Fats is alive!]

Listening: They've got the usual Broken Social Scene connections and they were just in town (that "just" happens to be two weeks ago in Edmonton, by the way), crafting some tunes down at The Starlite and opening for Pretty Girls Make Graves. I didn't go because that's what I do. Not going, that is. Sort of become my identity lately, if you know what I mean. If you don't, sorry, you must have a life. Lose it, hipster, if you want to be cool. Anyways, Robots posted them just a while ago (that "just" happens to be a week ago in Minneapolis), so I thought I would lay out a link or two of my own. The music is good, heavy on the indie, heavy on the pop, and I can't think of a single reason not to buy this CD. They've got the twee-est website ever, and they've "all realized just how big Canada is". Come on, you've gotta love it. "Where Cedar Nouns And Adverbs Walk" + The Most Serene Republic