Wednesday, April 21, 2004


Wilco's latest, A Ghost is Born, is freely listenable on the jukebox over at wilcoworld.net

Pop philosopher Mark Kingwell is playing Cupid over at the ROM

Gehry v. Koolhaas in Seattle: first the EMP, now the SPL [looks like it might be difficult to find a cozy corner to read in: too many sharp corners and edges]

Dave Eggers recommends The Tenants of Moonbloom by Edward Lewis Wallant [not sure why, but Eggers' description brings Alasdair Gray's Something Leather to mind... but the copy I read didn't have this racy cover]

Favourite bawdy & blasphemous paragraph of the day:

"More arresting still is Auden's "Chorale", a Berlin-period poem in German that celebrates the cock and balls and blow-jobs of his tough German boyfriend Gert Meyer in slangy Berlin street-demotic to the tune of the Lutheran hymn that forms the chorale in Bach's St Matthew Passion." [Source: Guardian Review]

Sunday, April 18, 2004


WAKING... late, a bit hungover
BREWING... a bodum of strong coffee
THINKING... about Siegmund, Sieglinde, Wotan, and Brünnhilde, and their deepest of sorrowful woes
THANKING... ArT for sharing the epic experience
READING... the latest offering of social unrealism from Martin Amis
LISTENING... to Kate Bush sing about angels encircling her in a ring of fire [a recurring theme, it would seem]
LOOKING UP... definitions of words that I don't know [catamite, tocsin, rebarbative, jocose, bowdlerize]
OPENING... another bottle of wine, though I really have no business doing so on a Sunday night. Do I have a problem?
DREADING... the next fork in the road, which points west and takes me down its path bright and early on Monday morning [tomorrow!]. Right, on to the wine, then...

Friday, April 16, 2004


This quote from Alasdair Gray's 1982, Janine struck me as being particularly timely:

"I am certainly alcoholic, but not a drunkard. I never stagger or stammer, self-control is perfect, the work is not affected. It's well-paid work, I needed an education to get it, but now I can do what is needed and even answer questions without thinking. Most work today can be done like that. If you lobotomised half the nation it would carry on as usual. The politicians do our thinking for us. No they don't."

Yes, that's right, no, they don't. Major politicians, especially. They have a whole staff of lobotomised individuals working under them. And when they're not close at hand, all the politician has to do is wear a goofy smile and repeatedly utter the same response to a host of different pointed questions.

The question to that answer is, obviously, 'What is staying the course?'


Been reading Phil Goulding's A Ticket to the Opera in preparation for tomorrow night's COC performance of Wagner's Die Walküre. He offers up a number of tips on how Wagner neophytes might approach wrapping their heads around the mythology of Der Ring des Nibelungen. There are seven available options, including The Spineless Option [do nothing], The Easy Option [listen in advance but don't analyze], The Flawed Option [attend a performance or listen to a recording with no advance preparation], The Leitmotif Detective Option [study in advance the at least 140 leitmotifs present in the Ring], The Couch Option [try to figure out what Wagner 'is really saying'], and The Little Engine That Could Option [read, study, and listen until you think you get it, and then do it all over again, because it's likely that you don't really get it]. Of all of these, I think my approach, sadly, will be The Easy Option, though I will try to get in some studying in tonight. I think I can, I think I can...

Thursday, April 15, 2004


With regard to all this talk of a literary divide, Thomas Frank's essay in the April issue of Harper's sheds some light on the topic [or perhaps it's the geo-political map of the US that he refers to that sheds the light]: blue-staters [Democrats], it would seem, read literature, while red-staters [Republicans] don't. What do red-staters read, if anything? According to The New Republic, it's pulp. While TNR fully admits that pulp has no literary warrant, it does have cultural warrant. But not enough cultural warrant to warrant having this new feature [appropriately called Pulps] run in the hard copy of the magazine. Anthropologically, this lack of physicality might pose a problem down the line, but perhaps I'm missing the point. Perhaps it's just an amusing little online-only feature for the plebes that don't want to shell out the coin required for access to full online content.

Friday, April 02, 2004


Russell Smith is trying a new genre: the ever-popular post-colonial comedy. The sheer aplomb of Smith and his unsubtle self-promotion, not to mention his shameless penchant for namedropping, is rather off-putting [...and then there was the moment when I forgot that it wasn't Leah McLaren's article that I was reading...].

I guess he's worried that the new book will suffer the same fate as the last one: a slow and painful death on the remainders table at Indigo.

What upsets me the most, however, is the comparison drawn between Smith's latest and Martin Amis's The Information. I suspect that Smith himself wrote this blurb, only because he drops Amis's name in his Globe & Mail article too. This is no co-incidence. If he fancies himself a scribe in the Amisian tradition, let him do so. But alas, he will never be Martin Amis.


Or should I say, things I love about driving in sprawl at night after a particularly heinous shift in a corner of the city diametrically opposite to my own [in many more ways than just one], when rush hour has ended and traffic is moving and I absolutely own the road... I can't say it any better than the Mekons do in Enter the Lists:

(Coming over the brow, swooping down onto the city. The traffic is well spaced and moving at a smooth pace. The city is spread before Me, white and pink in the winter sun. I shall enter this beautiful city and grasp its center like My lover's corded veins and tendons. Later, at night, the city lies glittering. Thrown over the river valley, breathless, as I bear down on it. This is My city and I pass into it with the rush of wind and the sound of quiet thunder. A bar, a cube of light, throb gently as I park My car and , triggering the electronic locks and alarm, I move across the shining tarmac to the noise and warmth. My breath is pluming in the bitter cold then the heat of the bar enfolds Me ardently as I push through the throng to My table. I am there and I know it will be good tonight. My list is endless.)

That about sums it up. And co-incidentally, my list is endless too.

a lower-case kind of guy

Have spent the morning re-discovering the marvellous hayden. Perfect music to match the rainy gray April weather. Overtly sad lyrics, yet strangely uplifting all the same. He's about to follow up 2002's skyscraper national park with elk-lake serenade, which is being released domestically on May 11 under the Hardwood Records label. He's also touring with Sarah Harmer [who incidentally makes a really brief cameo in the delightful carried away video], set to appear at the Winter Garden Theatre on April 26 & 27.

Hayden also has a Hollywood connection: he recorded the title track for the 1996 film, Tree's Lounge, and co-directed the video with Steve Buscemi. That's just one year after lamenting that "things are as bad as they seem" [perhaps still my favourite hayden song]:

What do I do this for?
Got to get out some more
Go down to the grocery store
Meet someone I'll adore

And on that note, I think I will go down to the grocery store.


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