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Showing posts from 2005

dubious achievements of the year in public speaking

a lot of us are familiar with the notion that when you open your mouth, you should have something of value to say. but it looks like some people could use some instructions on what exactly "of value" means. here, courtesy of the fine folks at media matters, are the most outrageous quotes from 2005. second biggest surprise? george w. bush didn't make the cut. biggest surprise? bush's mother, barbara, also didn't make it, despite her completely idiotic statement that refugees from hurricane katrina were probably better off crapping in the hallways of the superdome, since they were used to living in poverty.

if something like that doesn't make the list, how bad are the quotes that did?

you've been warned. proceed with caution.

happy new year, baby

happy new year to all of the regulars and passersby here. i look forward to more of more like space in '06, since i'm enjoying the blogging experience thus far.

a very special new year's wish goes out to dave and michelle and tava, their new addition, who arrived safely this morning!

the love that dare not speak its name

movie revieww::brokeback mountain

much like the world of military films (see my review of jarhead), the world of cowboy movies has always been lost on me. being a city girl through and through, looking in on a world that lacks restaurants and toilets that flush holds little appeal. on the other hand, the notion of using one of the most traditionally masculine and conservative settings- the american midwest (played with striking beauty in this film by alberta)- for a gay romance is a perversion of the natural order i simply can’t resist.

this was a film no one wanted to make. jake gyllenhall, one of the leads, was tapped for his role eight years ago, when he was sixteen, at which point he wanted nothing to do with the project. over the years and with the eventual handing off of the film to director ang lee, gyllenhall and others came around. smart move for jake, who, between this performance and his equally excellent turn in jarhead, has established himself as the first standout acto…

the secret of immortality

soleilmoon is taking preorders on "speaker of turkish", the first entirely new album by muslimgauze in almost two years. what's remarkable about this? bryn jones, the sole proprietor behind muslimgauze, has been dead almost seven years now. and he still releases more music than artists who are among the quick.

how does that work?

when he was alive, jones released more music than seemed humanly possible and he hasn't let his metabolically challenged state interfere with that release schedule very much at all.

how does that work? i struggle for weeks to get a single short story written. in that time, this guy would have three albums ready and he's DEAD.

to be fair, muslimgauze music tends to be a little repetitive (multiple versions of the same track on an album) and some of the stuff he was putting out even before his untimely demise sounded unfinished to say the least. but his good stuff- and there is a lot of it- is beautiful and haunting.

how lucky for all of u…

year's best couple

if i have to hear one more thing about jessica simpson and her boy band husband, or about brangelina, or any of those other celebrity couples, i'm going to have a seizure.

so here is my vote for my favourite pair this year: owen and mzee, united through tragedy, they are, unlike most celebrities, still together after a year.

if this story doesn't make you feel warm and fuzzy, you're not even human.

fumbling towards empathy

movie review::munich

you knew it was only a matter of time until movies about the middle east and the history of terrorism started cropping up in hollywood. the subject has been strangely verboten, but this year, it seems that directors are gradually stepping up to give their version of events. jarhead tackled the effects of the first iraq war on the troops who were sent there, syriana tried to give a global perspective on the flow of power and money through the middle east and now munich steps up to look at the violent fallout from a particular historical event.

steven spielberg is not a favourite of mine. other than ron howard, i find him the worst offender for routinely hawking the most overwrought and trite emotional pieces, where good and evil are too neatly defined. munich is a very different sort of a film for him, because those clear definitions are precisely what gets thrown out the window. the result, however, is still seriously flawed.

for starters, since the audience i…

recovery mode

for all those of you who, like me, were contemplating suicide as a viable option to having to sit through another christmas carol (my own personal nadir this season came with the carpenters' version of "have yourself a merry little christmas"), here is a little playlist which, listened to as a collection, will get your humbug working and have you ready to face the world again.

boyd rice\ hatesville:: after having to listen to weeks of phony warmth and maudlin sentimentality, it's nice to give equal time to the opposition. here's someone who wants you to know that it's ok to want to carve up your annoying druncle and serve him for dinner.

foetus\ ramrod:: hell yeah! puts your fists in the air and sing along to the soundtrack to everyone's trapped-among-the-rednecks nightmare. wallow in your own superiority, a completely un-christmaslike thing to do.

xiu xiu\ clowne towne:: what your friends really think of you. a sugar-coated cynanide pill from one of m…

onward and eastward

well i'm off for a few days to head back to halifax for the holidays, where i will hopefully, eventually, be able to enjoy my mother's christmas dinner.

that means no blog and no email until i'm back (i'm scared).

enjoy some down time over the holidays. in a culture completely obsessed with productivity and work, relaxing is one of the most revolutionary things you can do.

worst. diet. ever.

i still can't keep anything except bread and crackers down. even that is questionable at certain times.

just to make things more frustrating, i was lucky enough to be the recipient of a few nice holiday baskets at work. (the place where i used to work wouldn't let us keep our baskets, for fear we'd be corrupted with the cans of candied peanuts and wedges of cheese.) i can't touch the stuff in them, other than the crackers, so i'm spending my work days staring at a mountain of stuff i desperately want, but that will probably kill me. gradually, i'm parceling this stuff out to coworkers, who appreciate it more than i do right now.

one thing i have never understood is why people are compelled to share their own nausea stories when they know you're sick. at the best of times, hearing about how your daughter had diarrhea for a month would qualify as too much information. at this point, it's enough to turn me off my crackers and crackers are all i have right …

love kills

movie review::king kong

peter jackson is remarkable. i’m still puzzling over how the director of trash-cult fare “meet the feebles” and “bad taste”, or the art-house staple “heavenly creatures” managed to convince a studio to give him the equivalent of the GDP of a small country to make a film version of lord of the rings, which most people would have considered an unmanageable proposition. but few would argue that he executed his vision with skill and that the money (from a business perspective) was well-invested.

so it should come as no great surprise that he was happily handed another tonne of money to go remake, king kong, the grand poobah of monster movies, released originally in 1933 and remade (badly) in 1976.

like lotr, this was a labour of love for jackson, who is, as always, deeply respectful of his source material. although the movie is double the length of the original, it incorporates all of the elements fans will remember from it. he even gives little winks to the ori…

unclear channel

tell clear channel to get with the program and allow the campaign for america's future to use the advertising space they paid for without censorship. you can modify the form letter they provide if, like me, you live outside the US but still think wal-mart is a cancer.

while youre at it, don't forget to rent wal-mart: the high cost of low price. i've now seen it and was surprised that, even though following the swath of destruction laid by wal-mart is sort of a hobby of mine, there were still nefarious deeds that i didn't know about.

ALBERT ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!

driving in toronto is the certain path to road rage at the best of times and when it snows, it's like they released the entire population of about seven lunatic asylums and gave them all cars. however, despite the snow and slow progress, i made it home fine, thanks in large part to the fact that i have albert as my intrepid silver steed. (please note, the photograph is not albert, but a reasonable facsimilie.) yeah, i anthropomorphise everything, but sometimes, you just have to form a bond with the machinery in your life.

my spirits are up already

sometimes, you can justify your existence on the planet through one single act. i'm not saying that giving jerry falwell a comeuppance is the only good thing this man has done. but i'm saying that he could have been a complete waste of space for the rest of his life and he still would have been judged a worthy man by his peers.

i only wish that it had been more money involved. might have shut falwell up...

my thermostat is broken

my internal thermostat, i mean. the one that regulates my body temperature.

i normally don't write about things at work, but i'm feverish and i can't help it. i sit in an office that has a door (a useless door that doesn't open, which i'm glad i found out this week as opposed to, say, during a fire) to the outside. the door has a draught coming through it that basically turns my office into the arctic circle. so after a couple of days of cold snap, i went to complain about this.

the response was succinct. "we know, we were wondering when you'd bring that up."

really? while you were wondering about it, did it occur to anyone to take some elementary steps to fix the problem? it's a draughty door frame, it's not like it requires a team of mechanical engineers.

so i got a space heater. the space heater blew out the power for me and my entire department (taking out someone's power while they're working on a presentation that's taken them…

and another thing

i've completely had it with christmas music.

every year, i try to stay out of stores until the need is dire and even then i find it difficult to cope standing in these places listening to the crap they play to try to create a mood. what mood are they going for anyway? the one that makes people show up at malls with automatic weapons?

look, i happen to think that some christmas carols are beautiful, as are many pieces of music written when the composer is high on god. that sort of mind set tends to get the creative juices flowing. similarly, i think that a lot of the pre-christian songs that have gotten sort of lumped in with the carols over time have a lot of merit.


and it isn't bad enough that every year of my miserable life i've been suffocated by these smarmy songs that seem designed to bring about suicidal thoughts in even the best-adjusted people. now you get "modern" ver…

it's going to be one of those weeks

"like a lot of you, i hate. but i hate with style and creativity." -henry rollins

ok, i'm not exactly sure what got me under such a black cloud today, but it's reached these epic proportions. it's like anyone who comes anywhere near me becomes the enemy. be happy you're viewing this over the internet, where i can't get you.

the roots of some of this go back to september. i was on a business trip and this had required me to bring a considerable amount of baggage (the physical, not the emotional kind) in the form of samples, etc. i ended up traveling with three bags that were really heavy. my strongest memory of this trip is me, struggling to get all of these bags off the carousel and onto a cart while the two men i was traveling with stood some distance off, drank coffee and giggled at the spectacle i was creating.

yesterday, i got ot see the flip side of my situation. a woman of my acquaintance, had managed to convince the director of her department to com…

movie review::syriana

just got back from seeing george clooney’s ambitious epic syriana, the latest manifestation of my increasing fascination with the middle east, its oil and the politics of the region.

under the tag line “everything is connected”, the film weaves together the stories of a rogue cia agent (clooney), a smart but na├»ve securities trader (matt damon), the royal family of an unnamed arabian emirate, a young pakistani worker for a major american oil company discovering the meaning of his faith and a morally conflicted lawyer trying to investigate the merger of two oil companies and to negotiate for them. That’s a lot of plot to fit into two hours.

unfortunately, the net result of the elaborate plotting is that the movie is almost incomprehensible at times, with references that never seem to get sorted out. also, the sheer number of characters who have active roles in the movie make it pretty much impossible to get any who are well-rounded and developed. instead, there is a parade of carica…

everybody's doing it

tv ads from a diy chain in germany feature the talents of blixa bargeld. for some reason, this one doesn't bother me as much as the dead kennedys thing (see rant below), perhaps because the ads themselves are just so weird and therefore do actually represent an aspect of the artist in question. i only wish the home depot would pick up this campaign...

on my list to santa claus

dental floss dispenser shaped like a pirhana. having this in the house would make me way more conscientious about the importance of flossing.

thanks to boing boing, again.


ok, it's not designed to tell you how to vote, but the cbc web site has a pretty cool thing that lets you see how your views align with the four major parties running in the current canadian election. no big surprise, i had the most views in common with the ndp. second most was the block quebecois, but i disagreed with their policies on federal-provincial relations and parliamentary reform. (i would argue that if you disagree with the bq on those two things, it doesn't really matter what you agree with them on...)

you knew we were having an election, right? and you're going to vote, right?

and on the other hand...

sometimes, there are stories you hear about bands that are just so ridiculous, you figure it's just something that the band made up to get attention, or an apocryphal story that has little basis in reality. like the one about how the members of the 80s-era experimental occult and murk collective metgumnerbone stopped recording because they were arrested for grave robbing in an attempt to procure instruments.

hey, what do you know? sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction and sometimes, those people you read about are every bit as weird as you could imagine.

the best thing about this article? seeing metgumnerbone refered to as a "weird pop group".

i feel unclean...

fridays are often frustrating and apparently today is no exception. the only reason i’m choosing to write about this particular friday is that one of those little aggravations just got under my skin.

i had to stop at a big, faceless electronics store in order to get ink cartridges for my prima donna printer. this is irritating in itself because a) i don’t understand why the printer refuses to print in black when it’s out of yellow ink and b) going to a big faceless electronics store is kind of like being transported to the third circle of hell as far as i’m concerned. could i get some service here? please? help me???? but i digress.

i had completed my task and was standing in the neverending line-up in the hopes that eventually someone would want to take money from me when i became aware of something that wasn’t quite right. at first, i couldn’t put my finger on it, but suddenly, the atmosphere had become slightly less objectionable. then it occured to me: i was hearing decent music.

pass the popcorn

listing of the 50 greatest independent films films ever. i don't agree 100%: i would have put dead man or mystery train on the list if i were chosing a jim jaramusch film over stranger than paradise. i always thought that sex, lies and videotape, while interesting, is overrated. ditto the passion of the christ and blair witch project.

on the other hand, i think there are also some films that really deserve to be on this kind of list, either because they've been unfairly neglected or because they are just that good.

the importance of culture

"Git yer haggis, right here. Chopped hart n' lungs. Boiled in a wee sheeps' stomach. Taste's as good as it sounds."
- groundskeeper willie

random acts of intimidation

according to the associated press, the miami police will be staging random acts of force to make terrorists aware of their ongoing presence.

call me crazy, but i'm guessing that whatever terrorist cells they have populating miami at the moment have probably been advised by their shadowy higher-ups that there are, in fact, police patrolling miami. they do not need to go swarming old ladies headed into the bank to cash their old age security cheques (while the government is still writing them) in order to show that they are there.

if they want to find real criminals, perhaps they might consider staking out the local republican headquarters.

good hair day

those of you who know me know that i've basically had the same hairstyle for about the last hundred and fifty years, with very few exceptions. a few of you may also be aware that the last time i tried doing something different with my hair, it basically backfired and scared me out of changing it for a long time. well, i went to see sergio today and made a change. he's a hair genius, so i pretty much knew that there wouldn't be any "what have i done?" moments... et voila... kate with bangs...

people have pointed out that i generally like to hide in my hair. now i can do so all the time. and it's even cut so it shows my favoured eyebrow. (yes, i have a favourite one.)

your secret inner self revealed

this site is both an archive of music history (guess that's why it's called "this day in music") and a sort of reverse prophet. on it, you can look up the song that was number one on the music charts on the day you were born, as well as what they call your life's theme song- which is apparently the song that was number one on the charts on the day you turned 18. here are my results.

birthday song (u.s./ u.k.): baby don't get hooked on me- mac davis/ how can i be sure?- david cassidy
life theme song (u.s./ u.k.): can't live without your love and affection- nelson/ show me heaven- maria mckee

as far as i can tell, these songs have one thing in common: i've never heard any of them. apparently, i started out in life ignoring pop music and precious little has changed in the intervening years.

thanks again, bill

in honour of the holiday (one day late) to the south of us, here's william s burrough's thanksgiving prayer, courtesy of reality studio. they also have a video of him reading it, but the site received so many hits in the last two days that it crashed...

Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1986
William S. Burroughs
For John Dillinger
In hope he is still alive

Thanks for the wild turkey and the Passenger Pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts —

thanks for a Continent to despoil and poison —

thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger —

thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin, leaving the carcass to rot —

thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes —

thanks for the AMERICAN DREAM to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through —

thanks for the KKK, for nigger-killing lawmen feeling their notches, for decent church-going women with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces —

thanks for "Kill a Queer for Christ" sticke…

in the right light, he's really adorable

pedigreed chinese crested sam, three times selected as the world's ugliest dog passed away today as a result of heart failure. i would venture to say that a few hearts have failed when they laid eyes on him as well... nonetheless, proof that there's enough love in the world for everybody, even if your beauty is well beyond skin deep.

i'm thankful i don't have to eat it

as if elizabeth hicock's scale model of san francisco cast in jello weren't enough, here's an appetizing (?) thanksgiving non-dinner made from, you guessed it, jello. personally, i find jello creepy at the best of times (i think it has to do with the way it moves... food should not jiggle), and it's a toss-up whether i find it more unnerving as a food-like substance or a sculptural medium.

courtesy of boing boing

bit(torrent) by bit(torrent)

i'm trying to get the hang of bittorrent (with a significant amount of help from dave). all i can say is, for the amount of frustration i'm having appending their little text blah and creating the files, this had better give me access to the controls of the universe.

the ultimate purpose of this is to provide nice little mixes of things for people to listen to and, possibly, to read. now i'm spending quality time trying to make the music files and the text file get along and then trying to get everything else in the sequence to recognise that the files are there and that they have a right to exist.

i've finally found something that makes waiting in the queue at slsk seem like fun.

blast from the past, part 2

went out to see front 242 friday, a stone's throw away from where i'd seen bauhaus two nights earlier. this is another band who were a real influence on me in my younger years. they weren't as dear to my heart as bauhaus, and i had actually seen them before, but they put on a pretty good show. their stuff is still superior to the cookie-cutter ebm (a genre they basically invented) that's put out now.

unfortunately, for the second show in a row, my favourite track got left off the song list, which was a little bit of a disappointment. (to be honest, it was more of a disappointment with bauhaus, since i was kind of expecting lagartija nick and it was one of the only singles they didn't hit in their set. i wasn't really expecting 242 to play rerun time, since it's a) old and b) not very well known.)

as far as electronic shows go, 242 put on a pretty energetic one (it helps when you have two band members unencumbered by keyboards). they're exceptionally ti…

like a fine old world wine

some things really do get better with age. apparently, contrary to what i might have thought, bands can be among them.

i took in the bauhaus show at koolhaus (that's way too close to rhyming for comfort) last night, figuring that at the least, i could say that i'd seen them, rather than pouting over the fact that by the time i'd even heard them for the first time, they'd already broken up. and i figured that at the least, they'd sound like a decent bauhaus cover band.

how very wrong.

if anything, the band has gotten better and tighter with time and their live show, while not what you'd call energetic, was captivating. everything about their preseentation reeked of cool precision, from the perfectly controlled feedback to the monochromatic lights. peter murphy, looking kind of like a cross between lenin and vincent price (but still not bad), is as spot on as his old recordings, even on the trickiest parts of their undead anthem bela lugosi's dead.


recommended viewing

ok, i can't really recommend it, because i haven't seen it yet, but i will venture out on a limb and say that wal-mart: the high cost of low price is probably going to be worth the time it takes to sit down and be utterly horrified at the machinations of the world's largest corporation (yeah, that's right, not merely the largest retailer, but the largest corporation).

there are plenty of sites detailing the ravages of wal-mart on the world. i won't bother to recap them here. have a look around and see what you can turn up for yourself. it'll be far better than anything that i could say anyway.

i will tell you that i have had the joyous experience of working for a supplier of wal-mart and will be happy to go through the rest of my life never repeating the experience. it's a very hard game to win. once you start down the slippery wal-mart slope, you are locked into a cycle of providing them with "more for the same or the same for less" every year. t…

in memoriam

jhonn balance 16 february 1962-13 november 2004

note to self

i will not let the hand washing pile up.
i will not let the hand washing pile up.
i will not let the hand washing pile up.
i will not let the hand washing pile up.
i will not let the hand washing pile up.
i will not let the hand washing pile up.
i will not let the hand washing pile up.
i will not let the hand washing pile up.
i will not let the hand washing pile up.
i will not let the hand washing pile up.
i will not let the hand washing pile up.
i will not let the hand washing pile up.
i will not let the hand washing pile up.
i will not let the hand washing pile up.
i will not let the hand washing pile up.
i will not let the hand washing pile up.

better left unsaid?

walter benjamin wrote that before we had the capability to create copies en masse, that an original work of art maintained an aura because of its status as the unique and singular piece and that the ability to reproduce art and distribuute it eroded the status of the original.

i mention this because i went to see a book launch for canadian artist floria sigismondi and i'm convinced that you could develop a parallel theory about artists. sigismondi's work, even the pop music videos she's produced, has a dark and dusturbing quality to it, without being overt, that appeals to me. seeing her speak, however, seems to undermine this.

for starters, her speaking voice, both in tone and inflection, is almost a dead ringer for madonna's. it's a comparison i couldn't get out of my head the entire time i was listening to her. i kept thinking she was going to start plugging her new album...

secondly, her answers, while honest, are strikingly ordinary. which is probabaly t…

sale of rare religious artifact

all proceeds go to charity.

say your prayers every night before bed

Our spaghetti
Who art in the colander
Hallowed be thy sauce
Thy serving come
Thy strands be wrung
On forks as they are on spoons
Give us this day our daily meatball
And forgive us our starchiness
As we forgive those who are starchy against us
And lead us not into Kraft parmessan
But deliver us from Chef Boy Ardee
For thine is the garlic
And the onion and the bay leaves
For ever and ever.

thanks to james for that one

**for those of you who are unaware, last night's round of elections dealt a serious blow to the campaign to teach the theories of the flying spaghetti monster's creation of the world in american public schools. voters in pittsburgh defeated their school board, who wanted to force teachers to include the theory of intelligent design as an option equivalent to evolution and replaced them with candidates who do not favour its inclusion in school curriculum.

if george says it, it must be true

the more i read the words that come out of his mouth, the more i become convinced that george w bush might be losing his mind. i've passed a certain threshold, because it's no longer even the incoherent, inadvertently hilarious stuff that catches my attention. what concerns me now is what i think he really is saying, where he's not making mistakes.

the cbc today ran a piece on his comments in reaction to a story that the cia is running secret military prisons and refusing to give highly suspect organisations like the red cross access to them, so that the public can rest assured that there is nothing shameful taking place.

you can read the whole story, but i thought that i would treat you to my favourite line (inserts mine):

"Anything we do to that end [protecting the american people from terrorists] in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture."

there is no evidence given, no attempt at even a modest amount of openness, we're ju…

the only way to commit suicide

according to the helpful folks at energy fiend, it would take a little over 60 cups of coffee to kill me. unfortunately, it doesn't specify over how long a period of time and i am not really at a point where i'm ready to play around until i get it right.

of course, given my usual intake, 60 cups doesn't even seem like too great a stretch. a stretch, yes, but not an impossibility.

i feel like i should be up to the challenge, given that i apparently once drank what should have been a lethal dose of verveine tea without realising what i was doing. (as a testimony to exactly how anxious i was, the tea didn't even put me to sleep. come to think of it, it was probably my massive regular intake of coffee that saved my life.)

believe the hype

Go see Jarhead.

Go see it at the next available opportunity, don’t waste time thinking about it. That’s an order.

I didn’t actually go out with the intention of seeing jarhead tonight. I had meant to go see Good Night and Good Luck, which I still intend on doing. As it happens, I made a typically lazy decision. Good Night wasn’t playing at a theatre convenient to where I was at that specific moment in time, so I opted to go see the other movie I was interested in, Sam Mendes’ Jarhead. It wasn’t really a close second, because I tend to find movies about being in the army a little alienating. It’s like watching a room full of the people I used to hate in high school from the safe side of one-way glass. Kind of entertaining, but the people inside still seem vaguely dangerous to someone like me.

I guess this change in plans is what one would call providence, because Jarhead is one of the best movies I’ve seen in years. I am going to have to see it again, because I’m still marveling at…

the sky is falling the sky is falling

most of you kow that i'm not what you'd call a fan of microsoft corporation, but what can i say? they're finally (belatedly) trying to use their power for some good.

so, while there's more work to be done, good on ya, microsoft, for (belatedly) getting the proverbial ball rolling.

i feel unclean even typing that.

you did a heck of a job, indeed

if former fema director michael brown wasn't acting like such a pompous ass, i think i would be starting to feel sorry for him.

today new orleans congressional representative charlie melancon published a number of emails sent by brown during the crisis following hurricane katrina in order to illustrate exactly how much of a tool the guy is. the emails are stupid and boorish, with him asking questions about the appropriate attire for his television appearances and how he could "tweak" his organisation's disastrous response.

the emails are very effective in proving that brown was tragically wrong for the position, although they hardly do a better job of discrediting him than he's done himself. here's the issue that i have with publishing them, though: most of us occasionally say and do things that are inappropriate. if we're smart, we keep these comments off email, but even spoken comments can be overheard. i like to think for myself, and for others, that w…

i think i might have caught the work ethic

either that or i just went through a very extended dry spell before now. i just realised that in the last year(ish) i have finished 8 short stories (should be nine by the end of the week and another one on the way) and a novella (plus several shorter nonfiction pieces i'm not sure what to do with). maybe other people do more (i'm sure they do), but that makes this the most prolific year of my life.

i'll regret this when i'm older

a lot of coffee, a fair amount of alcohol and not much sleep. all in all, a good weekend. martin came up to visit, which meant that i probably did more shopping than i should have, but i'll try to behave for the next little while. i will take the opportunity to congratulate myself on not buying more shoes.

went out with m and genevieve last night to panic, the monthly retro-ish party at funhaus, which was a lot better than the last time i went. spent several hours dancing in my much-loved grand nationals. this was great for the first three hours, but the last hour and a half were like some kind of fiendish torture. note to self: five inch heels with no back support require dr. scholl's assistance when you plan on dancing all night.

now i'm going to get a few hours serious relaxation time in before i really start to feel my age.

Most overlooked albums #1

Laibach:: Nova Akropola (1986, Cherry Red)

Sometimes, a band can be their own worst enemy. No one is a better example of this than Laibach. Yes, they’re a joke now. Yes, they’ve made an international name for themselves doing soulless covers of equally soulless pop music. Yes, it’s been twenty years since they were really on their game. But let me say a few words in their defense (and I have been inclined to defend them since I saw them live in 1998 and they butchered a couple of their own classics):

- the origins of their fixation with cover songs came from a desire to point out the possibility of latent totalitarian messages that was both amusing and thought-provoking, so it wasn’t always so vapid.
- Their attempts to link their music with the (questionably) larger New Slovenian Art (NSK) movement represented a brave attempt to reattach music to its artistic roots that was both intriguing and brave.
- Nova Akropola is a masterpiece.

There are a lot of fans of the Cold Meat Indu…

it's who's for dinner

closet cannibals rejoice! hufu has arrived! hufu is a soy product painstakingly designed to mimic the texture and flavour of human flesh. originally designed to target anthropology students who were "hungry for the experience of cannibalism but deterred by the legal and logistical obstacles", hufu is available in the united states only for the time being, but you can order through their web site (they ship outside the country).

the company is looking at producing other cannibal alternatives in the near future. i guess i don't have to tell everyone what's going to be served at my next formal event.

Most overlooked albums ever #2

Dive:: First Album (1992, Minus Habens)

Living in Toronto, I’ve been somewhat impressed at how local DJs will occasionally go out on a limb and pack the dance floor by playing a track from the Ant-Zen label, or, even more daring, from Hands. Wow. Before Ant-Zen, who would have imagined this kind of a sound- danceable rhythms with layers of harsh noise and guttural vocals over the top? Dirk Ivens, that’s who.

Ivens was part of the seminal electronic band The Klinik (who might also have a place on a list like this, under different circumstances) until their demise in 1988. He had always been the vocalist for the band rather than the musical component, so it might have come as a surprise for many that Dirk was the one who embarked first on a solo career. It might also have come as a surprise what shape that solo career took.

Instead of approximating the clean electro sounds of The Klinik, Dive (Ivens’ name for his new project) produced what was probably the harshest rhythmic music ava…

Most overlooked albums ever #3

Clock DVA:: Buried Dreams (WaxTrax, 1990)

There was a rumour going around for a while that this album was on the stereo when the police raided Jeffrey Dahmer’s home. I’ve always doubted this, because, even if it was on the stereo, who would have known what it was? Nonetheless, there’s a reason why that rumour started: because there is no album in recorded history that would have more appropriately captured the mix of the erotic, the macabre and the deviant that was Dahmer’s mind.

Clock DVA had started as an interesting but not particularly exceptional electronic band in the eighties, but had lain dormant for a few years prior to releasing this album on Chicago’s WaxTrax label. In the interim, their membership had changed (which it would again in their later career) and their sound had become moodier, darker, unsettling.

While most bands were using their newly purchased samplers to snag catchy spots from televangelists, Clock DVA turned their attention to assembling collages ripe wi…

old enough to drive

i don't know if i'll be letting him take albert out for a spin any time soon, but please join me in wishing a very happy 16th birthday to morgan.

and when i die, i want to be buried with them

ok, i have a problem. i own a lot of shoes and boots. in particular, i have a john fluevog problem. for some reason, every pair of shoes i find there seem designed to fit my foot perfectly. of course, given the amount that i've spent there, it's entirely possible that they are designing their size sixes around me... yes, i know it's irresponsible, given that i could probably have a down payment on a house if the bank would accept shoes as collateral. it's my vice.

Most overlooked albums ever- #4

Von Magnet:: Computador (Hypnobeat, 1991)

Long before Novy Svet made a hybrid of electronics and drunken Mediterranean romanticism, Von Magnet pointed the way with this gem. Normally lumped in with the early nineties European ebm (in its original sense) scene, the band’s horizons were considerably broader than those of the artists with whom they were compared.

In addition to recording albums, the band also wrote scores for performances by Spanish theatrical dance troops and soundtracks for independent films.

On the other hand, much of their music, and a track or two on Computador, did tend towards the more commercial, club-friendly sounds that were so popular at the time.

The different personalities of the band meet in near-perfect harmony on this album, running the gamut from electro to flamenco, combining elements that left the few people who noticed them scratching their heads. And that left people like me cheering for more.

This album should be the one that the more self-cons…

Most overlooked albums ever- #5

Tie- In typical Libra fashion, I have difficulty making up my mind, even about things like this. So we’ll start the countdown with a tie for fifth place…

Jouissance- Sunlight Penetrates the Crown (1991, Minus Habens)

I thought long and hard about whether or not to include this one. The thinking had chiefly to do with my aim to have only recordings that were influential beyond what they are given credit for and Sunlight Penetrates really can’t claim to have been an influence, even in the realm of obscuria.

For a brief period in the early 1990s, Michael Sefton, the genius behind Jouissance, looked like he was going to carve a niche for himself in the music underground. He had his new album Sunlight Penetrates out on the highly respeated Minus Habens label, he was appearing on compilations, he had word of mouth from the most reputable part of the independent music press. So what happened?

Well, nothing happened. Very precisely nothing, because shortly after launching his career, Micha…

i don't know if there's that much room for jello

courtesy once again of boing boing: elizabeth hicock has made a scale model of the city of sanfrancisco injello. i'm not going to ask what possessed her to do this, but i will insist that you exit this page now and go and look at the photos. it's eerie how you can recognise particular buildings.

equally fascinating is the video of the whole sity shaking. ironically, given the area's propensity for earthquakes, this is probably kind of like how it feels to live there...

top 5 most overlooked albums of all time

A lot of people will ask you what your favourite albums of all time are. For most of us, this is a nebulous list that changes depending on our mood, or what we’ve been listening to lately, or what associations we have with certain pieces of music. You also see the variation of this question that runs something like: What albums would you keep with you if you were stranded on a desert island? I’m particularly fond of this one because of the implicit assumption that the desert island would have electricity and a functioning sound system. (At any rate, my answer has always been a fairly simple one: I would want any album that gave me clear and detailed instructions on how to get off a desert island.)

My point is that picking favourites, especially when you’re as much of a music buff as I am, is difficult. I am much more comfortable making lists with fixed parameters, so that I can focus my attention a little more clearly.

One of the frustrations of being a music buff, especially when yo…

when i own the church

the eerie and beautiful artwork of philadelphia artist judith schaecter will adorn the windows.

i've always loved stained glass and it's wonderful to see someone breaking new ground (no pun intended) with the medium.


as an aspiring (soon to be published!) writer myself, i am really flummoxed by the flap over google's plan to scan books and make them available for free.

yesterday, the american association of publishers officially filed a lawsuit against google to stop it from making books available for free. making books available for free is an admirable goal, because everyone should read, but not everyone can afford to buy a lot of books. it also helps authors rather than hurts them, because it allows books to be seen by a wider audience.

this is one of these cases where people seem to get in an incredible uproar over something because there's technology involved and for no other reason.

for all those of you who might be tempted to say that the publishers taking google to court are motivated by trying to protect the rights of the authors whose works they distribute, let me ask you this: how would you feel if they started trying to shut down libraries? aren't they doing the same thing?…

go team!

unesco, the branch of the united nations that deals with arts and culture (among other things) voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution that would allow artistic and cultural products to be treated as distinctive for the purposes of international trade. the motion was spearheaded by canada and france and, predictably, opposed in the strongest terms by the united states.

the motion, which must now be ratified by 30 countries, acknowledges what most people would take to be self-evident: that cultural products have a value and a meaning which goes beyond their value as a commodity. the united states' opposition to this motion is in their own financial interests as the world's largest exporter of cultural products.

i hate the clever ones

in my time on earth, i've learned that the ideas that tend to make people the most money are the ones that, if someone described them to you, would seem almost too simple to be believed.

here is a really good example. this guy is selling space on his web site in $100 blocks. you can own a little piece of his virtual wall with your logo or picture or whatever linked to your site.

while you're busy laughing yourself sick over the idea that people would pay $100 to have a tiny little logo displayed on a page alongside thousands of other tiny little logos, perhaps you'd like to count the number that are there and do the math as to how much this guy has actually brought in. (Or, if you want to make it simple, just check the stats on his site)... now how smart are you?

the power of panaphonics can be yours!

most people who know me know that i reference the simpsons way too much. i realise the show slid and no longer even approaches the spectacular (craptacular?) heights it did in its peak, but i still have my fond memories. one of the most ingenious gags of the show involved the invention of an easily understandable parallel language, words that never existed, but really should have. now wikipedia has compilied a dictionary of classic simpsons terms, so that we can all get caught up on our linguistic skills. double bacon geniusburgers for all!

thanks to the always wonderful boing boing for the reference!

you only thought they messed up

i wouldn't have believed it if i hadn't found it myself. following up on a tip from the daily show, i checked out the FEMA web site and found this diagram of how their organisation is supposed to work. look carefully at where it begins and where it ends. this is how their own people say that they are supposed to function...

so, you see, they were really doing their job after hurricane katrina... the rest of us were just misled as to what their job actually was.

homes sweet homes part two...

ever have the excruciating experience of seeing an ex and haivng them look completely beautiful, especially in comparison to the person you're with now? apparently, the same thing can happen with cities.

damn, montreal, you are looking hot. have you been working out or something? oh, this is toronto, who i left you for... but, i mean, those things change... are you seeing anyone right now?

adopt a useless blob!

my last shreds of what most would refer to as "common sense" or "restraint" keep me from adopting more cats, but i couldn't resist this little guy, especially since i can keep him here and i don't have to feed him or clean his droppings.

and he's much easier to deal with than the other useless blobs i've had in my life.

this can't end well

the members of the european union have opened talks to allow turkey to join its ranks. austria, the lone remaining opposition to the proposed talks, gave way under pretty intense pressure, particularly from the uk, to drop its objections. in reality, austria's objections (chief among them a feared increase in immigration) were pretty specious, but that doesn't mean that someone with a level head shouldn't be trying to dissuade eu members from welcoming turkey into the fold.

the government of turkey is a brutal dictatorship with an appalling human rights record, particularly with regards to its native kurdish population. although the current government has made statements to the effect that it will not tolerate the widespread torture and brutality of previous regimes, all indicators are that these practices are still common.

as recently as last week, the turkish government was threatening to shut down a group that defended gay rights, on the grounds that the existence of …

back in the big bad city

back in toronto, after a weekend in halifax. got to see dave for the first time in a dog's age and got to meet michelle (and tava, sort of...). as i was flying back into toronto, i felt absolutely nothing. there is something about this city that simply prevents it from feeling like home. it's also probably influenced by everything else i've had on my mind lately-

which is a lot.

which is another story.

which is why i'm ending the post here.

homes sweet homes?

i've now lived in three cities and one of my favourite experiences is going back to visit the places i've lived before. i find it's almost always a positive thing- you remember the parts that you really liked about each location. (this can be a dangerous endeavour as well, since it can lead down the slippery slope of depressing nostalgia.)

when i leave toronto, which i know i will eventually will, i wonder what i'll miss about it the way i miss things in halifax and montreal?

isn live in montreal

no idea who set this up, but seminal swedish "death-industrial" act in slughter natives will be playing at cafe chaos in montreal on monday november 7th, along with label mates desderi marginis and sephiroth. isn came out of retirement/ hibernation earlier this year to release their (his) sixth album, the superlative resurrection (available from either cold meant industry or malignant. isn are about the last band doing anything that actually sounds interesting in this genre- should be a great show.