Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fake Onion Headlines

1) Arcade Fire Just Played a Secret Show at Your House

Sources close to Montreal indie rockers Arcade Fire confirmed that the band has just finished playing a secret 50 minute set at your house as part of a stealth promotional tour for their upcoming third album, The Suburbs (scheduled for release on August 10th). The show at your house is the most recent of a string of impromptu small-scale performances by the band in cities across the world, and was not publicized in advance on their website or on MySpace. The attendants included 5 neighbours who were passing by and became concerned about the noise, 10 music bloggers including a videographer for the influential music website Pitchfork.com, and your cat. Audience reactions ranged from rapturous awe to mild confusion. Despite their frequently volatile live performances, none of your objects in the living room where the show took place were damaged. "It's great playing in these kinds of spaces," front-man Win Butler said, while glancing at a bass amp stationed on your coffee table; "we could really feel our sonics reflecting off [your] stuff." Richard Reed Perry, Arcade Fire's multi-instrumentalist, commented favourably on the rider available for the band, mentioning that when you return home later today, you should restock your refrigerator with beer and oranges. As well, you should "buy some more of those vegan cupcakes because they're really awesome," Perry added. Arcade Fire expressed willingness to return to your house for another show, possibly when you're out for groceries tomorrow.

2) Scope of Gulf Oil Spill Almost as Grand and Tragic as HBO's The Wire, Obama States

At a press conference on the south lawn of the White House today, President Barack Obama discussed at length the devastating impact of the BP Mexican Gulf oil spill by comparing it to the critically acclaimed HBO show The Wire. "Just as the people of Baltimore were devastated at all levels of society by bureacracy and indifference, from the police force in season 1, to inner city schools in Season 4, to the blue-collar dockworkers in Season 2, the environment in the gulf area was devastated by the impact of the oil spill." Obama continued, "and yet, we must march on in our pursuit to clean up this unprecedented environmental catastrophe, much like the dogged pursuit with which Jimmy McNulty tried to capture the drug organization of Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell by tracking their telephone use on the police wire." Not wishing to divulge any spoilers to the intricately plotted show, Obama concluded his address by stating "Where's Wallace, BP? Where's Wallace?" repeatedly. Neither Wire creator David Simon, nor the Mayor of Baltimore could be reached for comments.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Everytime I Sit Around I Find That I'm Shocked

This post was totally going to be about dilettantism and the Leeds indie pop band This Many Boyfriends (<3).

The last time I saw the Halifax band The Grass was three years ago. They were very country-rock, with a few Beach Boys-esque psych pop flourishes that were much better than their sub-standard 'we're not really from the South but we really get fiddles and hoe-downs' tunes. I was mostly impressed by how many pretty teenage girls were wearing their stylized t-shirts. I was 20 or so, it was almost okay.

Earlier today, someone told me The [new] Grass were performing in Ottawa again. They were apparently 'math-rock' oriented and much harder. Laughable. Fuck them, as if a bunch of dudes from Halifax who last tried to really get the chord progression of 1,000 Dollar Wedding down could nail the intensity and intricacy of interplaying interlocking guitars bass drums and melodies and play hard. It was safe. It was going to be empty. And that's the kind of music I like, because I'm empty. I was there.

As Chuck Klosterman famously said, rock music (even Rock Music, or ROCK MUSIC) will not save your life. It will definitely not cure cancer. It might not even have an impact on AIDS. What he unfamously didn't mention is that it doesn't need to do that. Rock Music, no, ROCK MUSIC [and really, MUSIC, BOOKS, FILMS, ARTWORKS], do one thing and one thing only. They make you forget that your life needs saving in the firstplace. I haven't thought about you until now, and that's only because I really want to always always remember. It usually doesn't work that way and it's an accomplishment that cannot be belittled. You [and I and everyone else I know] will not die, not tonight and not in my head [can you tell that I've been watching too much Doctor Who recently?].

Here are a few more words: Nova Scotia, loudness, intensity, the grass, rhythm, clicking, losing control, The Grass, progrock FFFW, regaining a notion of control that is not controlled, chugging beers half jumping on the stage, peanut butter, explosions, too tight to register consciously, loud loud loud fast fast loud fast, A A B B up B A, lockdown, heart, THE GRASS. Do you seriously want more?

For the record, I bought a t-shirt tonight.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Breathing In

After having a bit of a tumultuous March, I've entered a period of zen, punctuated by periods of extreme intoxication [maybe they're the same, who knows?], punctuated by visits to Canada's biggest city that also has my favourite ball team. It's pretty much OK. They're hitting some timely clutch home runs.

There's this website called The Book Depository that is kind of like Amazon only it's based in Britain, is slightly less sinister and slightly cheaper, and it has a free worldwide shipping policy on any item you purchase. It's no independent corner bookstore, but you can find lots of good stuff there.

This site also has this weird option that allows you to see exactly what people all over the world are purchasing at any given moment, in real time. It's pretty amazing, addictive, and transfixing, in a very zen way. I can (and do) watch it for hours. It makes me inappropriately happy seeing someone in New Zealand purchase a book called There Are Cats in This Book. It's also totally worth following for the times the map randomly flashes and drags you somewhere else. Though most of the purchases are from the U.S, Canada, Western Europe, Australia and NZ (I guess free shipping really does its magic there), every once in a while you get a complete outlier. Someone in Iceland purchasing the first volume of All-Star Batman and Robin; someone in South Korea buying a copy of Treasure Island; someone in Cyprus buying a the first book of the Chronicles of the Necromancer - Dark Ladys Chosen; someone in Oman buying a book on SQL. Anyways, you get my point, I hope.

Oh, and listen to this, it helps:



Breathing Out.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

a room full of vacuum and a room full of air look the same


So I've got plans. Big plans. But that's still over a year in the future. What about the now? If I really dislike my life here enough to leave forever in a year and a bit for the sunny orange-y embrace of SoCal and whatever U.S. coast I end up on afterward, the time in between, even with a solid exit strategy in mind, could stretch forever in an anxious quagmire.

Good question, imagination. We need some short term strategic planning, drop our prices while the competition is intense and demand is plentiful. So here's the mildly self defeating plan I came up with: unilateral secession from the Ottawa scene. Hey, it worked for the south.

No more intimate acoustic shows or punk rawkouts. No more disco dance nights. It's all the same people anyways, or at most people who are around the same people. Ottawa is never about walking in a straight line, but always circling around (the same drain). It's exhausting, in that NASCAR way. I'm tired of being cripplingly anxious every time I go out. I hate always anticipating being unhappy and looking over my shoulder. So no more movie nights at the theatre [how the hell do the trailers for Greenberg make a movie that's apparently a uniquely grim and uncompromising existential black comedy look like such a generic film?] and no more trips to the Black Sheep Inn at Wakefield. No more nothing. It will be a sad blow to my poor exercises in concert photography, as well as to my chances to see my beloved Fucked Corpse (or even Caribou). But whatever, there's a fucking pillar in front of every single stage in Ottawa. You can't see shit. It's enough to drive one mad.

So fuck off live music, club nights, and big screen movies in Ottawa. Fuck off scene. You never took me anywhere, and you never once bought me a drink.

I'm going to focus inwards and settle into my comfort zone. Control what and who I experience. Spend some quality alone time with books and drinks and movies on my own. I can read every single issue of Spin magazine online now, and find out about new shit in the outside world that way. I probably hate too much stuff. Besides, couples do it all the time - they settle into a zone where they don't go out much, kind of get used to living/being with each other, and sometimes invite other couples and unfortunate singleton friends for dressy dinner parties. Why can't I do this solo? Well, I can and I will. Also, Bon Iver. Just saying.

Bonus urban fantasy short story idea:

Reincarnation exists. But you're always reincarnated as the same person and experience roughly the same events over and over and over again. There's still lots of room for individual agency and free will and that sort of junk - you can be a Wall Street shark in one life and a hippie communist in another - but people mostly don't exercise it. Mostly, they do the same things and make the same mistakes over and over and over again. But sometimes they don't. Sometimes they actually make good choices and come out happier and 'better' at the end. The other thing that exists are supernatural beings (kind of angels but not really) who watch over people and guide them from one round to the next. They think that the idea is that at the end people should achieve a nirvana like state and just be good and then disappear or be one with the cosmos or whatever, but so far it hasn't happened (as far as the protagonists of the story, two of these beings, are aware) and after watching the same people for pretty much forever they're kind of skeptical that it ever will. In the meantime, watching people do the same shit over and over for millenia and literally make the same mistakes over and over and over again is fucking boring. So boring that most 'angels' have resorted to gambling on the outcomes of every minute event in people's reincarnations - whether Joe Blow will fully butter his toast, or only do half of it, on a specific morning; whether Jane Doe put change in her right pocket or left pocket at the bar at her 30th birthday party at a bar, that kind of stuff. The 'angels' have pretty good recall, so they're aware of the various probabilities at stake. There should be an actual plot and stuff, but I haven't thought of one yet. So yeah, endless near identical reincarnations and gambling addicted angels. Someone must have done it before, but if not - copyrighted here motherfucker!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

air

I am becoming increasingly disenchanted with the internet. You let me down, you know? I thought I could love at least a small part of you, but who the fuck doesn't like The Rock?

I'm tired of pictures of cats and Norwegian supermodels, and people who don't talk seriously or think about anything (you bring out the worst in me), and people who intellectualize everything (you bring out the worst in me), and having money (you bring out the worst in me), and having annoyingly persistent pains on the right side of my body, and not caring enough about new music anymore. It's stupid that I'm 24 and the album that speaks to me the most at the moment is something I should have listened to and internalized years ago. But the XX are still shit - listening to them is like listening to music that doesn't exist. Why did this not sell out? I sound angrier than I intended.

Let me restart: My biggest and most persistent fear is that somewhere in the universe, a random encounter will cause matter and anti-matter to touch, and everything will end instantly without anyone even being aware of what happened. Something, nothing.

What I'm trying to say is that this is the point where we need bold plans (diagrams included) and rousing halftime speeches and sudden illuminating theoretical insights and ninth inning upside-down-inside-out rally caps.

So here's one:

1 - enroll in a Marketing doctoral program on the Best Coast.

2 - focus on some bullshit topic like "internet economy and social networks."

3 - obtain a series of bullshit jobs consulting web 12.0 companies in a medium-to-large U.S. metropolis about stuff like digital commercialization and consumer behaviour.

I am selling out and never looking back.

I really should have thought of this a couple of months ago before Sept. 2010 admissions closed, but even though I won't be doing this for the next little while, it's something to look forward and prepare to. Let me go out on a gurney.

Drugs are boring,* Romance is boring.


--------------------
* Side note - in the spirit of turning lemons into lemonade and all, here is an idea for a young-adult syfy book series: there are tiny particles that comprise the particles that comprise everything in the universe. these particles are so small (even in relation to atoms) that they do not necessarily follow the laws of physics on their own. more specifically, they can freely travel in all four dimensions. normally, they don't make extreme moves in time because it takes a ridiculous amount of energy, but it is possible. since these particles are embedded in everything, including human beings, in some cases (possibly under serious duress?) people can produce flare-ups in these particles that push them forward and backward in time for micro-seconds. this is how deja-vu is created. however, with the proper training and/or technology, some people are actually able to actively use these properties and push and pull themselves through time. of course, they are still unable to go stay there beyond a few seconds, but it's enough for these individuals to gain some very valuable information about the future. oh and an additional thing is that even with these powers, it's kind of unreliable because the future is unstable - so the future you see is the future as it exists right now with your current intentions and the current circumstances, but you could change things all the time and produce very different outcomes. so the idea for the actual book series is that the main character is a young protagonist (male or female, or maybe both in alternating chapters a la The Subtle Knife) who learns that he/she has these powers and then learns to control them and overcome some sort of a large obstacle in a way that is not at all reminiscent of Harry Potter. the clever thing is that the book series will also discuss lots of concepts about physics, the nature of time and space and quantum mechanics, giving it an educational angle of sorts not unlike old Asimov books or LOST. the concept right now is still a bit messy, but i like it. it's almost as good as my idea for a sci-fi TV movie where a descendant of time-travelling Hitler (long story) meets and tries to kill the biblical Abraham and Sarah but ends up falling in love with Sarah.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Razed by Wolves - An Anti-Valentine's Day Mix


You'd think that after a full year, I'd be slightly better adjusted, less volatile, more hopeful, less given to falling asleep on public lampposts, couches and floors, and less prone to sharing my inane yet embarrassingly revealing personal thoughts. Not so. As a direct consequence (and evidence) of my lack of personal growth, here's the second annual edition of my Anti-Valentine's Day Mix:


Track by track run-through [if it gets tedious, you can just listen to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours instead. The idea is roughly the same, I think.]:

1. Slow Club - It's Christmas and You're Boring Me

Let's start at the beginning. A simple and stately falling out of love song without historionics. Sometimes nothing turns out to be better than something.

2. Ace Bushy Striptease - Iluvya (Hate Version)

The two vocalists singing/talking over each other on this song really grab me. Relationships - two people attempting to come together and reconcile their disparate personalities and idiosyncrasies - rarely take the form of organized discussions and negotiations. More often it's jumbled argumentative cross-talk that belies cross-purposes. Oftentimes, you don't even care what the other says and overlook blemishes and canyons of incompatibility. And then someone always wins at the end.

3. The Field Mice - Canada

It's hard to understand the full extent of your deficiencies as a person until you've been soundly rejected. And by soundly, I mean when you've pretty much decided that this (they) is it, and they didn't (see song #1). Double this when it comes to being rejected for someone else. It literally means that another person (who you've been building up as something incredible) considered you for a while, thought about all of your qualities, and said "not for me, I'll take that instead." Crushing would be the word to describe this, I suppose. For a while it seems pretty ridiculous and almost impossible as well. So in a completely contradictory fashion, however, it also makes you feel totally superior to everyone else - to the person who rejected you (for rejecting everything you have to offer for something less), to the person he/she rejected you for (for being so obviously inferior to you), and to everyone else (for not seeing the extent of the tragedy of the situation).

4. The Exlovers - You Forget So Easily

More than any current working band (and possibly more than any band with the exception of the aforementioned Fleetwood Mac) the Exlovers ARE Anti-Valentine's Day. [To paraphrase Nathan Rabin's description of the emotional impact of the upcoming film Blue Valentine] Every single line/second in this song is designed with precision to unearth and bring forward the most painful romantic memories you've always wanted to forget. Forgetting easily, yeah right.

5. Matt and Kim - Lessons Learned

A song so upbeat, it's almost possible to miss that it's actually pretty bleak. "Thinking about tomorrow won't change how I feel today."

6. Blue Roses - I am Leaving

I always want to leave. I always think that everywhere I'm not is better and I could be happier there. [Leaving also has a particular interest for me right now. There's a measure of discomfort I feel in Ottawa that I can't seem to overcome. It follows me.] I guess you could call me an optimist.

7. Jens Lekman - I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You

Jens always sings about women leaving him / not loving him, so it feels like he's finally getting his due at first by telling the same thing to his significant other. But then you start thinking about how the girl/woman he's involved with actually likes him and how he's [you're] a terrible person for stringing her along for a while and then leaving her (but still talking about kissing her) and it turns out to be a not so empowering downer after all. It's the endless romantic cycle of misery. Everyone is a shit to everyone else who is not their ideal match.

8. New Order - Love Less

This song is a pretty fascinating and unsettling combination of accusatory and defensive tones and weird stalker-y undertones. Yet, it still manages to be affecting because for all of its confusion, the one overriding emotion here is clear and damn near universal: needy desperation. We've all been there, and we all keep coming back for more.

9. Jay Walk Snail - The Boy Gets Lonely

The boundaries between friendships and relationships are thin and porous and leak at the most inopportune moments and eventually break down under the pressure and flood the chambers and lead the boat to sink like a rock to the bottom of the ocean. How's that for a confused and mixed metaphor?

10. The Walkmen - The Rat

This is the Deer Hunter (film, not band) of romantic PTSD. Empty Empty Empty. I don't think that there's anything I can say about this one that will say any more than the actual song does. Let's just go with the visceral reaction then: this song makes me want to pound my head against the wall until I see stars I can walk on. It's the drums, right?

11. Coeur de Pirate - Corbeau

The best part about listening to a foreign song (or even a song that's hard to understand) is that you can kind of gauge its mood and then make up your own lyrics that kind of make sense as you go along. Seriously, try it, it's amazing. The trouble is that when you're in a particular mood, pretty much every song you hear and don't quite understand sounds like it's about breaking up or being alone. Anyways, I'm 80% sure this is a break up song (c'est fini avec toi?). If not, this is the saddest song about any other subject ever.

12. The National - Wasps Nest

For the record, I really hate it when people love a song because "it totally talks about what happened to me and it's like it's written about me!" But some songs can't help but bring back a very particular person when you listen to them. More than any other National song, this is all about being stuck. It perfectly reproduces the conflicting desire to run away and towards something and someone. Bright lights for moths.

13. Gigi - No, My Heart Will Go On

Time doesn't heal, as much as it kills.

14. No Age - My Life's Alright Without You

I love love love how this song seems to be taking breaths between invectives. And then it ends in this massive cathartic ranting explosion. Seems like an apt conclusion.