Monday, January 30, 2006

Prime Ate Prime

#1) Primate photography continues apace—five posts in a row, by my count—and somebody should pull the alarm, make it stop. Okay, what does that even mean? Sometimes my own nonsense shakes me up slightly.

#2) "Things I learned this weekend." Apparently, wasabi is absolutely harmless, judging by how J wolfed it down. He did, briefly, turn into the Tasmanian Devil, but you had to look really closely to spot the change. Next week, I'm going to try some w myself, maybe up the nose or straight into the heart. Then I'm going to knock down a herd of buffalo with my fists and butt heads with Galactus over cribbage.

#3) My girlfriend bought me a couple of cds on Friday. Okay, that's the best sentence I've ever written. Let's sit back and take a look at it. Nine chief justices couldn't do better. Last year's [Edit: last year's? Oh, snap.] Breakaway hit was one of them, and I've been listening to tracks 2, 3 and 4, nonstop. Damn, I never realized how good "Because Of You" could sound in a dark car on an icy highway, it's gorgeous.

#4) Hic jacet The Wolfnote, rex quondam, rexque futurus. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

"Heavy Lifting" + Like A Fox This song will Whoops! What song, again?

"A Little" + Like A Fox This song will apparently be the first track off the band's 2006 CD. I actually don't know if the CD has been released yet, but it's certainly worth tracking down. I, however, lack the skills to do this. I am not Holmes, dudes! I'm not even the good doctor. A little is all I've got, and I'm up against the wall, here. I just discovered this song last night! Anyways, the band's site has got the lead singer's email address tagged onto it, so if you're keen about keen songs, give way to a little care and message the man. Meanwhile, enjoy the soft-water-running and white-horses-in-the-rain of this song.

Come Wind, Come Weather + Daphne du Maurier The title comes from Bunyan's poem beginning "Who would true valour see." Like Bunyan's books, this, too, is a simple book. And, like Bunyan's words, this author's words cut to the heart of the matter. Du Maurier would agree with Carlyle when he said that all that history was but the lives of great men, for she, too, ascribes the motions of the political machines to the personal motivations of its leaders. National unity in 1940's Finland is brought about, not by some hallowed system of checks and balances, but by certain key people recognizing and laying down personal ambition and private pride. The most astonishing vignette, in this collection of very short stories, is, to my mind, "London, 1940?". The piece is told from the viewpoint of a Russian aristocrat during and after the Bolshevik revolution. Anna resents losing her place of privilege to a bunch of peasants who say, "If we can't be equally rich we can at least be equally poor," but the narrator comments, "She was lucky to escape with her life". Living a life of poverty, though, Anna comes to realize the troubles of the poor and the injustice of having lived thoughtlessly wealthy among them. She becomes ashamed of her past life, and when she and her husband are shipped to Poland, into an obviously very dangerous situation of poverty and jeopardy, she refuses to cave-in to self-pity or bitterness. Instead, she has decided to do her best to change positively change the people around her, and not, like a lifetime before, live without care or thought toward others. Her life, and this story, is to be a lesson for Englishmen and Londoners complaining about the loss of luxury in the middle of war.

This book is out of print.

These stories are Christian propaganda, of course, very simplistic. They are lessons more than they are stories, literature in the wholesome and nearly dead tradition of moral instruction. They are very simple, but that is the point. The world is not black and white, people are not irredeemably evil or consistently good, but one thing holds true, always. People are selfish, people can do better, private responsibilty will make public good. And if it doesn't, that's a lie, because it will.

Friday, January 27, 2006

England Prevails

Life, as I understand, is a semi-violent but always banal farce, where nothing that happens matters to anyone except the victims. Actually, that is a total lie, I don't believe that at all, but, sometimes, the circumstantial evidence can be fairly strong. Like the time I asked the operator, at one in the morning, for the number of a certain taxi company. And then I blow my one call on that number, only to get the answering machine for a taxidermy service. Taxidermy? One in the morning, guys, one in the bloody-bitter-cold morning! What was I supposed to do then? This homeless thing, let me tell you, is way over-rated. Don't let those guys selling The Voice seduce you. Or, there was the time I got pulled over by the same policeman four times in one week-end. Twice on the Friday, twice on the Monday. You know, on Monday he asked me how my stats final went and seemed surprised to hear that I'd failed it. Right, buddy, because I stood with you for two hours, waiting for the tow-truck to take my baby away! Remember? Life, I tell you. Sometimes, it's thumbs down.

V For Vendetta + Alan Moore This "graphic novel", or set of comic books fastened between two covers, is silly good. George Orwell fans like me can't get enough of his stuff. The whole dystopian universe/Batman feel of the book draws me in like pencil on paper.

But. An observation, which is this—if the graphic novel ever achieves anything more than a casual "That's interesting" in English departments around academia, then the university is dead. A lot of people, bitter and not so bitter, would say that the university is already dead, that it died over five hundred years ago when it radically departed from the mandates of the very churchly beginnings of the colleges and quadrangles established by John Wycliffe and such and became, instead, a place for confused young women to experiment with both their sexuality and tolerance for alcohol. Which would certainly explain why young men continue to enroll themselves in such soul-destroying institutions. Certainly, men like Egerton Ryerson would be dismayed at the flourescent classrooms and confused ideologies under the Ryerson University logo. Well, now I'm getting too serious for my subject. What I mean to say is, what part of the word "graphic" can be misunderstood as "writing"? Now, I understand that "novel" follows "graphic" and I understand that pictures scribbled over with dialogue and explication and bound together in book form can tell a story equal in character and content to any novel by Dickens or Grisham or somewhere in between, but just because it tells a good story doesn't mean something should be studied as literature. Films, anyone? Not lit, last I checked. My Grandpa? Also not lit. Literature is writing, not writing and something else. Godsake.

Still. There is nothing I can say which has probably not already been said about this work. V For Vendetta is wonderful and a better read than most novels I read last year. Which also goes to show that one doesn't have to be a regular novelist to tell a good story. You can also be a magician who worships, for instance, Glycon.

Sorry about the constant delays. The music post will be up Saturday night, either early or late. Four songs this time, one of my fave releases of last year. You'll either love them or hate them, or, possibly, not give a damn. What are you, Gone With The Wind? Shut it, Butler.

"Baby Said" and "Down With Prince" (the last of which you've already seen a billion times around the net) are, to me, pitch perfect examples of what Hot Chip can do with a song. Nobody knows what to call this band, genre-wise. Electro-blues? But R.L. Burnside already sort of notched that label, didn't he? These songs are smooth rides, not even the smoothest in Hot Chip's bag, but still killer compared to most hip-hop out there. No, it doesn't feel right to call this hip-hop or thug-pop or Your Sonic Lollipop. This stuff is too one of a kind. Blue Steel, that's what this business should be labelled. I'm announcing a new genre to the world, yes, blue-steel. The beast is ready to leave the cage. Anyway," Baby Said" is excellent, closing with enough crazy Casio to keep the painfully alone in warm company long after the song ends. Typical (this album, anyways, which is all I know) Hot Chip sound, a long low building buzz ending with either a bang or a whimper. "Down With Prince" stands out a little from the rest of the album, though, with a Prince haircut and some Princed-out clothes. Whatever, it's still got that Hot Chip chill. These songs are bulletproof, massive slow-beats for cruising around calmly to, or, even better, listening to traffic through an open window by. An almost-unforgivable sentence, that, but this music justifies—really—just about anything.

Hot Chip refuses to remain the single avatar of its own genre, though. It keep bringing other kids to the yard to play, and some of them are pretty popular, like Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out (Hot Chip Remix)", which I don't like at all—for one thing, it's too long— mostly because it's like sandpaper on my eardrums. Whatevs, I'm just posting it so you can hear what HC is capable of. There's no way to improve on the Scottish band's single, but kudos or jeers, whatever you think best, to Hot Chip for trying something new. BUT this business, The Go Team's "Ladyflash (Hot Chip Remix)" is brilliant, I like this better than the first effort, and I loved that first effort! But this eliminates all the confusion from the original while still keeping the heart and enthusiasm of the piece AND still leaves enough room for the hearer to draw a few deep breaths of delight. Wonderful stuff, music should always be this good.

Oh, there is too much music on my computer.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Let's Make A Deal

This article in the NY Times has me ripped to go see the Tristram Shandy movie, which I hope will be brilliant. However, if the film is not brilliant, if it is unbrilliant, I am not going to cry or perform any drastic action, like jump into the water by the plastic pirate ship moored in the West Edmonton Mall (an action, which, as far as harm goes, would probably do little more than severely dampen my clothes and also wash the gel out of my hair—also, I have been told that there are cockroaches in the Cinnzeo's located beside that pirate ship and that these horrible insects love the tepid water, so, as you can imagine, I am definitely NOT going to leap into or even dabble in that fetid pool they call Marineworld or whatever the blazes they DO call it—plus, I don't wear gel in my hair or at all, that was just a lie, it seemed interesting to say at the time). But, if the film succeeds, I'm going to purchase Adaptation and just stare at the DVD covers for it and Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story all day long, my post-modern meta-textual brain fizzing with pleasure. Or just fizzing.

"Bathtime In Clerkenwell" + The Real Tuesday Weld Stephen Coates is a one of a kind, and that's all right with me. The world doesn't need two of him—one will do just fine. But why will one, and only one, Stephen Coates be all that is ever neccessary to the well-being of Britain and listening audiences everywhere? Probably because he does his job so damn well. Another Stephen, not without Merrit (ha!), liked the man's music so much, he took SC out on tour with him, and people all over Europe got to hear the funderful tunes of The Real Tuesday Weld. This tune was everywhere a while- and-a-while ago. Didn't it win some award, or maybe that was the whole album, I, Lucifer, that is. The dancing beast was released in the spring of 2004, and this song was wonderful and unexpected. It still is. The video is pretty famous, too, or maybe it's he look of the video, more than anything. Which seems a stupid thing to say, but, watch it, and you'll know what I mean.

The Arctic Fox: Francis Leopold McClintock, Discoverer of the Fate of Franklin + David Murphy Sometimes, it's not the writing, it's the subject, that makes the book. Like photography, isn't it? Murphy writes a plain strong narrative, nothing wrong with it, but certainly nothing to make you drop to the floor and wriggle unless you happen to be interested in what he's writing about. Which is why I did The Worm for about ten minutes after finishing this book. Francis McClintock was about as tough a baby as anyone ever is in this harsh world. This book is the first biography of him to come out since the publication of Clements Markham's 1909 biography (a book which I have not read). Anyways, McClintock. McClintock was amazing, virtually indestructible. He was that rare man in the British Admiralty, a person not afraid to learn. He basically came up with the idea of sledging across the ice as the most viable means of Arctic exploration (check out one of the cool sledge-flags he used), he organized satellite expeditions, pioneered the idea of moving from cache to cache instead of from ship to starvation, and discovered the only surviving document from the disastrous Franklin expedition of 1845. Did I mention the man was tough? He once travelled 770 miles in 80 days across land so jagged and tough and cold and treacherous—oh, there is no describing how bad it was, you would have to see it for yourself. Or read the book. You know what, stay away from the Arctic. The book is far more comfortable.

Monday, January 23, 2006


The voting stations were down at the Legion this morning and I went behind the cheap cardboard box and checked my vote. Not that I believe my vote actually matters in my strongly Conservative riding, but it gives me the right to complain until the next federal election, right? You know what? Most people are surprised to learn that I vote conservative along with the county. I am not for the Conservatives, I am against the Liberals. Winston Churchill once said, "Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has not heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains." People hear my facetious comments about racism and homophobia and assume I actually support their own positions on those subjects, when, maybe, I'm just against racism and homophobia. And heartless, apparently. Just because I make fun of one party doesn't mean I believe in the other party. A vote for the Liberals is, in my estimation, a vote for a leader who literally contradicts himself in public forum, a vote for an ignorant man. A man who, despite video evidence, denies contradicting himself. His words, then, are meaningless. This may seem small potatoes compared to, I don't know, 1) millions of stolen dollars, 2) a gun registry which has cost billions and actually encourages gun crime, 3) the constant lowering of national and provincial educational funds and standards, 4) ramming government motions through Parliament at ungodly hours and away from the public eye, 5) ultimate power to be given to nine unelected judges (what is this, a democracy or an oligarchy?), 6) the segregation of natives, and 7), the wilful and alienating favour shown to Quebec to encourage that province's dependence on the federal government—all policies which would be shameful to any democracy, never mind the one I live in—but what disturbs me more than any of these numerals is Paul Martin. He is a smart man. He ran his own international shipping company for years, and successfully. How can a man this smart, this educated, act like an unintelligent idiot in public? Does he see himself on television? Does he hear his own words and slap his forehead in exasperation at himself? Why does he say one thing and then say another thing which cannot, with logic or common-sense, be made to agree with the first? There is some sort of disconnection deep within this man, some sort of divide or misalignment, which does not allow him to see things as they are. I do not want a leader who appears to be disconnected from reality, from hard surfaces and long division, from economics and spring and summer. I want a leader who knows what his own words mean. If Paul Martin has different meanings for his words than those which the rest of Canada agrees upon, how can he understand this nation, how can he talk to this nation? He does not appear to comprehend either himself or those he is talking to—then how can he represent those people? Paul Martin has made himself ineligible for my vote. His words do not mean what my words mean. His actions are contradictory and corrupted. Unless we, too, are contradictory and morally corrupt, how could we ever vote for this man? I, for one, cannot.

"You Gonna Be My Love Machine? (Jet vs Girls Aloud)" + Lionel Vinyl I heard the most irrititating mash-up EVER on a blog called good weather for airstrikes. It's an uneasy mix of The Killers and Bloc Party and it chafes, O my sisters and brothers, it chafes badly. I listened to it once; I'll probably never listen to it again. I'm not saying it's bad, of course. I'm just saying I loathe it and that the world is the worse for its existence. That's all. But thinking of the worst can also remind one of the best, and that frenzied mash-up led me to remember one of the most natural and positive mash-ups out there, an mp3 which ripped through the internet more than a year ago— and increased my appetite for mash-ups from something like zero to infinity. This is one of the few mashes, I think, that's withstood the test of time. These things usually burn out faster than the song they're based on; this one, I think, actually improves both songs. Hate them or love them, Jet put out a brilliant single with "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?". And Girls Aloud crushed heads with "Love Machine". This mash-up does what the DJ is supposed to do with different songs—the mash becomes an exhibition, not only of the DJ's discerning ear and talent, but of each song's strengths. The apeneck-Sweeney scream and growl of Jet's instruments are the perfect foil to GA's matter-of-fact taunt—there may be equals, but I'd be hard pressed to name a better mash out there.

Words on books will be published this evening, sometime between eight and nine.

Dali + Paul Moorhouse I love these albums, these cheap collections of glossy masterpieces. There is no messing about with analysis or "What the artist really meant" here. Oh, that's all there, I'm not saying no, but the chief emphasis of this publication is pretty pictures. It's sort of like pornography in a way (a comparison to which Dali is not a stranger, I'm sure), because while the printed word may occupy half of this page or even three-quarters of that other page, nothing gets in the way of the pictures. These are books for the masses, these collections of Dali and Rembrandt and Klimt, etcetera, and about time, too. Obviously, PRC Publishing or whoever owns that imprint, is trying to cash in on the Taschen festival which the rest of the publishing world has been shouting about for the past ten years, but that doesn't matter. The point is, these books are cheap, they're plentiful, they contain masterpieces. Love it.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Orange Alert (Saturday "Into My Arms" Edit)

Last night, Roxy Epoxy and her oddly named band-mates rolled into town for a show at The Victory Lounge New City. My profane friend J attended, apparently bringing with him something less than Mary-Poppins-benevolence. With drum rolls, then, here is his somewhat-censored take on The Epoxies w/ the Frosted Tipz:

"F**k that s**t. F**k that b**ch. We're not going back to Detroit, that's for damn sure." Such was L's and my battle cry as we pulled onto 102nd for the Epoxies show last night. Of course, by the Big D, we meant R, and we were both expecting the worst. Nobody was there for R's band, so I laughed, and went upstairs. The big man, the little man, and an assortment of girls ready to put R in the hospital, were all upstairs, so I felt warm and safe and cozy. Anyways, around 10:30, I heard that The Epoxies were starting up their set. I headed on downstairs, and, after an awkward exchange with R on the stairs, I arrived in front of a smoke-filled laser-blasted stage. Yeah, that's right, there were lasers. Green ones. The Epoxies ripped through their set in about 45 minutes, came back for an encore, and then bailed. The sound could have been a lot better, but it did make me dance, which is a rare and horrifying sight. And L and I met three dudes from Fort McMurray."

Um. Brilliant? Nice to see a shout-out to The Fort, btw, J. Alright, the book review (well, recommendation) and the mp3 will crammed into this post on Saturday evening. A big edit. I'm really excited about the mp3, actually. Maybe it will even be up Saturday morning. Oh, maybe not. Have a good week-end, then. Lucky bugs win prizes.

"Into My Arms" + David Fridlund This is what you write about a song like this. First, you don't write about a song like this. You let the lyrics speak for themselves, because they're hearts and bones and life, everybody sacred and bleeding: "I don't believe in an interventionist God / But I know, darling, that you do / But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him / Not to intervene when it came to you / Not to touch a hair on your head / To leave you as you are / And if He felt He had to direct you / Then direct you into my arms". A lovely timbered piano, something you would hear in church just as the last of the congregation washes into the chairs, washes over my chair as I listen to this song. "Into my arms, O Lord," sings Fridlund, over and over. This song is a departure for him. As he explains on his blog, the man doesn't usually cover other people's songs. But there's sentiment and memory and even comfort behind this piece and it bleeds (you can feel the warm blood) through the words and the notes and, most of all, the voice of the singer. He covered The Pixies a while back—I think it was "Wave Of Mutilation" (don't quote me). That cover didn't move me. This Nick Cave cover does. There is other music he's written and sung and it, also, is wonderful. If you don't listen to David Fridlund's music, you'll probably wish you were dead. But if you listen, his songs might save you.

I'm writing about this song, C, for you. I mean, this song belongs to everyone, that's a cliché and true, but I hear the music and think—what else—about you.

Sunday evening, this sentence will be replaced followed with some words about a certain book. I'm pretty interested in it, and, hopefully, I'll get you interested in it, too. BTW, just for the record, I am not a large black woman, nor at all succesful in television, and my name is not an ode to the Marx Brothers. Sunday, then.

King Kong + Lorenzo Semple Jr Okay, this is pretty late Sunday—actually, the clock is blinking 12:03, and it's not early afternoon—but who cares? Not me, that's who. Question asked, question answered! To the book, then. The book is garbage. I don't know why I own this book. This book is not even good garbage, like that in which I classified the latest Michael Crichton. But, even worse, it doesn't even have the guts to be bad garbage and will never win any This Is The Worst Of The Bad Garbage awards. Foo! What I like about this book, apart from the probably-meant-to-be-erotic cover (a reigned-in Frazetta must have scribbled the image of Kong and the python and the girl's improbable Serena-like buttocks in about half of a careless hour), is the introduction. Oh, wait a bit, I like the title, too, which is, properly, The Complete Script Of The Dino De Laurentiis Production Of King Kong (fantastically awkward!). But the introduction! The introduction to the script is so excellently enjoyable. The scriptwriter, who I've never heard of, details Dino de Laurentiis—hereafter referred to as Dino ("His last name isn't used much, even by total strangers, though some of his most immediate entourage tab him 'Mr. D'")—is a brilliant piece of puff-pulp like I've never read before. Dino plays King Kong to the scriptwriters' beautiful blonde, and it's a wonderful mix of humour and farce.

I enter Dino's office on North Canon Drive in Beverly Hills, an enclave so richly Italianate that one expects a Borgia Pope to be working the Xerox machine.

"Borgia Pope"? Note the shiny technology, too. Xerox! Anyways, writing and colour like this, the reader can't lose. The scriptwriter talks about men named Larry and John and Jerry ("Jerry . . . had a mental picture of a terrific scene. Kong in a supertanker . . . ."!) but it's Dino who repeatedly, and not unlike Kong, takes the stage.

Dino capered around his office, pantomiming an enormous monkey plucking off a girl's vestments, delicately, as one would pluck the petals off a flower
All [Dino] really had for a follow-up [to Barbarella] was a setting and a terrific title. The action was to be submarine, and the title Going Down.
[Dino speaks:] "Lorenzo, I give-a you jus' a title, two words, you tell-a me what you think." Dramatic pause. "King-a Kong!"

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I Don't Use A Helmet When I Rollerskate

We were sitting in HUB and A says to me, "The new word is fellationship." Which word makes the other two people we were sitting with stop talking immediately, the girl actually snorting. "As in," I say, "we're really committed to this fellationship, or, this fellationship is never going to work." "Exactly," grins A.

Which leads me to speculate, so bear with me. I keep hearing this persistent rumour about St. Albert girls—my girlfriend told me; a classmate, unasked, told me; A (a different A) told me; and now, yes, I realize, I'm telling you—which is that the coloured braces these little teen girls wear are supposed to designate how many guys they've had fellationships with. I don't know, it sounds very urban myth to me, you know? Sure, every school has a couple of Rizzos, but this Rainbows & Braces Club is too elaborate, too much work and design. Nobody needs to be told who the sluts are—that's why God invented STD's.

"Taxi" + My darling YOU! In honour of their new EP, The winter will take us all, which came out last week, here's some old MdY (I have absolutely NO idea how to do that acronym). I posted on this song back in the coldest greyest month of them all, when music like this was sorely needed. That was before this blog became a Yousendit blog, though, so those old posts don't count. This song is brilliant pop, very lo-fi instrumentation, but talent like whales in the sea. I like the part where the singer closes his eyes and lets the taxi-driver have his way with him. It's funny, but sad, but mostly funny, and very well sung. Actually, MdY songs tend to be very roughly sung, but with a certain skill that displays a definitely deliberately awkward cadence. Which, of course, adds to the heartstrings of this song. I've been listening to My darling YOU! for something like fourteen months now and for those fourteen months, in two and three minute snatches here and there, mostly in the evenings and once when I had a barbecue, they have made my world a better place. Love them, love their crazy hair, love their music. Hey-o, they have Myspace, don't you know?

The Small Boat Of Great Sorrows + Dan Fesperman Aside: the best novels always transcend their genre (and, yes, I just used the word "transcend"—God help me, my tiny vocabulary can't come up with an appropriate synonym). Instead of being a science fiction novel, for instance, a novel merely happens to contain a lot of elements of science fiction: I'm thinking of my softcover The Caves Of Steel, here, a schlock Azimov mystery which determinedly presents what it means to retain a soft human heart in the face of prejudice and technology—and, in so doing, becomes a wonderful novella and not schlock. When I was a wee tyke, I read science fiction novels and mystery novels like they were going out of style. It was the details of the genre that appealed to me, the Barsoomian death ray, the body in the library, Alan Dean Foster and Agatha Christie. But then I read Bradbury, as every twelve-year old boy should do, and I was carried away by the emotion of the stories, and the romance. And then I read Dorothy L. Sayers, and realized that a mystery novel could be so much more whole and complete than a mere whodunnit. Which is not to cry down those classic detective tales, because I still love them. I'm just arguing for the superiority of novels over genres and for the unforced equality of those same good novels, no matter what genre they happen to illustrate. The Small Boat Of Great Sorrows is one of those genre-overwhelming novels. The plot of the novel, a great deal of the action, happens to revolve around a mystery, which is not so much who-did-what-to-whom as it is what-is-going-on-right-now. It's a novel of secret agendas, a Cold War thriller set in modern Sarejevo and Germany and The Hague. It's extremely well written, very noir, every chapter ending with troubling beginnings for the next chapter. I haven't read the novel that comes before this one, a work called Lies In The Dark, but, based on this book right here, based on the intelligence and empathy and sheer pleasurable-writing, I'm going to try and track the prequel down. For sure.

Monday, January 16, 2006

See Jews Run

Sir Thomas Browne wrote a very wise thing, once. Actually, he wrote many wise things and more than once, and also some very silly things. He wrote about his own writing, for instance, saying, "It was set down many years past, and was the sense of my conceptions at that time, not an immutable Law unto my advancing judgement at all times; and therefore there might be many things therein plausible unto my passed apprehension, which are not agreeable unto my present self." Which is a torturous sentence, bent all ways upon the mind, but very true. Some people might think it a cop-out to, in essence, say, "I wrote it when I was young and foolish. Now I'm older and wiser and don't stand by it," but I think it takes more courage to publicly change your mind or admit that you were mistaken than to merely hold the line as it was formerly held. So this paragraph is my formal declaration to whoever reads my words—I write a lot of foolishness, some of it in earnest. And I reserve the right to deny my old self in the sentences I have written. All is flux, of course, and to reject that concept would be to deny the nature of this world and the hearts of men.

"Opulent Canine" + The Gay The big producer in this band's 2003 release, You Know The Rules, was Kurt Dahle, who a lot of people know of as the drummer for a little outfit called The New Pornographers—thus we have the cut-glass explanation for les sonic similarities between these two bands. The Gay was not one of Dahle's most successful efforts, endurance-wise, unlike Limblifter or Age Of Electric (whose wailing "Remote Control" sounds not a lot like a pile of sand and quite a lot like a rocked-out The Gay). The band seems to be on permanent hiatus (their label, Mint Records, has them listed as "inactive") which is a shame, because the music they made was gorgeous, filled with more hooks than a thirty-year old sturgeon. That was a local-colour-reference, btw, since both the fish and the band are indigenous to British Columbia—Vancouver, to be exact. Anyways, I still remember heading down past Kingsway and hearing this song on the radio, a brilliant piece of Victoriana by way of the 1970's, just an unending wash of sound and harmony like you don't know. The lyrics are nonsense, of course, but in a good way—"Push Mister Pillow away", anyone? Somewhere in the mists of the last month or two, I read about a DVD along the lines of DIG! detailing The Gay's tour with The New Pornographers. Apparently, there was a lot of office romance between the two bands, which may partly explain the former group's long inactivity. Oh, let's face it, the band doesn't exist anymore, it's just me hoping they'll regroup and swing through Edmonton again. They're so brilliant, I've got to give you another mp3 from their release, another gorgeous hit for your musical vein, a very good song called "Critics". DL immediately!

Yiddish With Dick And Jane + Ellis Weiner / Barbara Davilman You know, S really surprised me, handing me this book as a Christmas present. It's a joke book, but a good joke book, something along the lines of that Nancy Drew parody that came out a while back. Dick and Jane have become part of the post-modern world in this little fable slash Yiddish lexicon. Sally is overweight, Tom is gay, Mother's just had a stroke, unsatisfied wives are cheats and so are mercenary shop-keepers. Cave canem. This book is worthy of being read for two reasons: 1) Sally signs up for a course called "Transgressive Feminist Ceramics"—and any book that mocks modern politically-correct academia pretty much gets the smile from this lad—and 2) the immortal line, "See Jane schlep."

Friday, January 13, 2006

The London Library

I very badly want to be strolling down a London sidewalk and to perhaps turn in at 14 St. James Square, which is the address of the London Library. I would sit in Sir Thomas Carlyle's sofa (or perhaps it is his wife's sofa) and I would think about the English language, how wildly romantic words are. Afterwords, I would have a plain cup of tea in a sidewalk cafe. I would talk to no one and it would be wonderful. I would know only three people in the whole of London and I would spend an entire slightly-rainy afternoon or perhaps a warmish summer afternoon avoiding them in the well-lighted but very narrow aisles of the London Library.

I'll stick a picture in this post, but not right now. Later. The light, pictured here, is from Rutherford North, down at the University. The white desk, in the post below, is in Rutherford South. Monday should see the long-delayed resumption of regular posting on this blog. Les pictures + les books + les music + le etcetera. Have a nice week-end, my netminders. Lucky bugs win prizes.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Five For Fighting

I wrote one hundred posts last year. There will be no top ten highlights. I do not believe in Top Ten, or Holy Hundred, or Excellent Eleventeen. It's like saying so-and-so is the fastest sprinter in the world. No, he's not. He's really not. He's just the fastest competitor in the race or the round-robin or whatever. There's for sure some Ugandan dirt-farmer could absolutely kill Donovan Bailey or Maurice Green in the hundred yard dash—probably while dragging a pair of screaming water-buffalo with him, too. Anyways, wait for it—wait for the turn—there it is! My Subjective Seven Of the Year!

SS#1) Best Candy: Starburst, baby. You don't even know. So tidily squared away under neat waxy wrapping. Does synthetic flavour get any better than this? Times like these I realize just how wonderful it is to be part of the great consumerist society of money and idols we call North America. Isn't life juicy?

SS#2) Best Music Video: There was the usual brilliant selection of songs and pictures out there this year. Let's not pretend you weren't affected by that M83 business for "Don't Save Us From the Flames" and it's sister video, "Teen Angst". I loved the classic Watch the Band Play video from the White Rose Movement as they did "Love Is A Number". In fact, it was just narrowly edged out for best of the year. Such beautiful people, such timing between hand gestures and music, I'm not even kidding. That one blond guitarist has some killer hair. And I'm awarding Most Gratuitous Use Of The Concept "Twee" In A Music Video to the guys in Eskimo Disco for "Picture Perfect", a super-catchy single, too. Best video, though, is simple. And I don't even really like the song. U.N.K.L.E. killed all the visuals and storylines with their huge twist video for "Rabbit In Your Headlights", my hands-down subjectively best video of the year. Thom Yorke and DJ Shadow have crafted something simply out-of-control good.

SS#3) Worst Moment To Be A Penguin: Turns out, there is no "best" moment to be a penguin. Consider the egg freezing about thirty seconds after it's popped out of the mother. Boom! Consider the starvation trek neccessary to pop that egg out in the first place. Boom! Consider the skua-bird and the leopard seal, each looking for a tasty piece of penguin wing. BOOM! Consider that in the end, if you survive all these, yeah, you're going to die of cold. But you know what? They still look like they're having so much fun! Oh, you big lardy penguins!

SS#4) Best Film: There was none. I'll have no argument, here. You can talk about Batman Begins and, yeah, I loved it, too. You can talk about March Of The Penguins which was not really a documentary so much as Little House On The Prairie with weird flightless birds, and, yes, it was a good film, alright? But there was no best, not even subjectively. Where are the Wayans Brothers when you need them, right?

SS#5) Best Sunrise: I only saw one, so I'm going to say December 3, 8:31 AM. It was grey and watery and I read the newspaper.

SS#6) Best Moment In The Car: Back in August, when C ranted for a solid two minutes about the truck in front of us cutting us off. She employed just about every vile word she knew and then started laughing at herself and made me laugh, too.

SS#7) Best Song: This is not even possible, but just because, I will name Of Montreal's wonderful "The Repudiated Immortals" as the best single song of last year. I've listened to this song over a hundred times, easy. The first time I heard it I wanted to cry. Ridiculous that a mere two minutes of music could do that. Of Montreal are becoming a god to me.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Divine Comedy

In the middle of the crystal desert, in the middle of the lake in the middle of that desert, I put down the delicate oars of my narrow boat and picked up the untitled book which came floating by me on the water. A lion, a leopard and a female wolf regarded me from the icy beach. And in that untitled book, I read of the year and where it had been and what it had seen and what it had heard. Good music and conversation, good sights and situations, everything was pleasant but also a little empty, a little doesn't-matter, a little self-bitter, too, and definitely lacking excellence. It was a book of bleakly petty trials and nasty mares'-tails, a book of lovely episodes and awkward dialogue, good sunsets and cold mornings. There was the Starlite concert in late spring, with DFA79, a brilliant show, best ever. There was Of Montreal's wonderful release around the same time, every song an intricate and ornamental and clockwork waving hand-of-sadness in the water. Moving down to Whyte Ave was all but said and done—then life laughed last and turned the whole thing into a theatre of the absurd (though more so for others than myself). There was a terrible evening in Morinville, and three other people know of this middle-summer evening. There was an old blue car mouldering in the garage, an economic decision to quit playing golf, a heart-stopping letter from university, a pear rotting in the grass. There was the occasional party, the occasional argument, the occasional crisis at work or home. No transportation (as always) divided hours apart from hours. Long warm days became long warm days. Ice-cream cones on Perron Street, and cold lemon sherbert from Block 1912, country music on the radio after midnight, too, and a day or so at Sylvan Lake. Not the worst of things, surely. My debts slowly cleared up, Arcade Fire sang in the autumn, the new Lemony Snicket came out, my girlfriend had a birthday and decided to head back to school. I started borrowing different digital cameras. December was brutal. Long days at work or at school made each day longer than the day before. The Chronicles of Narnia was a brightly coloured picture, Christmas morning was a brighter, C's face the brightest of all, like excellent jewelry or virtues from hardship.

I turned the book over (for it contained all my latest life), and read the newly-glowing numbers on the cover, 2005. "Last year was not all bad," I thought. "Last year had some very good evenings. Next year's book will have better things to report." I threw the book back in the water and looked to the frosty shore. The animals were gone away. Six pale towers remained, instead, long thin ladders up their sides. Only the new year might say what they contained. I picked up the oars and rowed for shore.