Friday, December 17, 2010

Solstice Eclipsis

Holy fuck, how did I not hear about this?

On Monday 20th / Tuesday 21st there will be a total lunar eclipse. It will be the first to occur on the Winter Solstice since 1638!!

I fly out East early morning of the 20th, so for me it will be visible between 12:30 and 1:30 am Tuesday morning. Gonna need a lot of coffee to make it to this one....

Monday, November 29, 2010

El Capitan

I don't often write about celebrity deaths here because generally they don't affect me in any deep way, even if the person in question had some kind of influence on me. Once in awhile though, someone will pass on out there and I get unexpectedly emotional.

Late last night I read about the death of actor Leslie Nielsen, who was originally from the Northwest Territories and made his name in the classic comedies Airplane! and the Naked Gun series (which was spawned from Police Squad, although I never saw any of those). Around the time I was 10 or 12, I probably thought this was the funniest man on the planet.

Anyways, as it was Sunday night and I was already sitting around trying to think of a movie to watch, I decided to pay tribute to Mr. Nielsen. Looking into his acting career, I was amazed to see that he'd been in almost 300 movies and shows. Even more interesting was the fact that until he made Airplane!, at which point he was already in his 50's, he was a dramatic actor. So I downloaded two of his old serious movies. Last night was Forbidden Planet, tonight will be the original Poseidon Adventure. In both movies he plays 'The Captain'.

R.I.P. Shirley.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Crosley, Score

Did I mention I've been collecting records again? I had a pretty decent vinyl collection going in high school, but I left it behind after moving West and it was all lost that first winter, when the parents' place was flooded and my basement room got destroyed. The only one to survive was Primus' Tales From The Punchbowl, which I later brought back with me to Vancouver, although I have no idea what happened to it.

Regardless, I've been building up a collection all through 2010, since my current house has a player in the living room. When that started to crap out recently, I began looking around for a new player for my bedroom.

I became enamored with a particular retro suitcase model built by Crosley, a company out of Kentucky. Despite hunting all weekend and asking on MetaFilter, I couldn't find anywhere in the city still selling them. Late last night I thought to check Sears' website, without much hope, and was pleasantly surprised - they don't carry the suitcase model, but did have the Archiver, and it even turned out to be on sale, saving me 50$. Fantastic piece of hardware - turntable, built-in speakers, tape deck, cd player, radio, and even a usb-port for ripping my vinyl to the comp.

Since I went on a record purchase frenzy in the past couple weeks, I'm now catching up on my listening. Seven albums in the past seven days:

-Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime
-Insect Trust, self-titled
-Insect Trust, Hoboken Saturday Night
-Beck, Stereopathetic Soul Manure
-Daniel Lanois, Shine
-Mice Parade, What It Means To Be Left Handed
-Do Make Say Think, Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn

Monday, November 1, 2010

Let There Be Light

At ten months, Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day just became the longest read of my life. As I've been saying all this year, I started the book on Boxing Day and have been fighting it ever since. Appropriately enough, the t.k.o. came this morning, the Day of the Dead.

It was a bumpy ride, with two extended hiatuses and several trips for the book itself, which has now been to Powell River, Toronto and Black Rock City. Along the way I discovered this fantastic concept album from Montreal's Land of Kush, first as a download and then, last week, a beautiful 180-gram vinyl pressing, fortuitously timed for the home stretch run I made over the Halloween weekend.

I'll take the time to copy out my personal favorite passage below, as I feel that this one page comes the closest to summing up the center of gravity of one of the strangest, wildest, most confusing storylines/themes I've ever attempted to pursue (or was it pursuing me?).

"I want to know light," Roswell was confessing, "I want to reach inside light and find its heart, touch its soul, take some in my hands whatever it turns out to be, and bring it back, like the Gold Rush only more at stake, maybe, 'cause it's easier to go crazy from, there's danger in every direction, deadlier than snakes or fever or claim jumpers--"
"And what steps are you taking," Merle inquired, "to make sure you don't end up wandering around the badlands of our fair republic raving about lost mines and so forth?"
"I'm heading for California," replied Roswell.
"That ought to help some," said Merle.
"I'm serious. It's where the future of light is, in particular the moving pictures. The public loves those movies, can't get enough of 'em, maybe that's another disease of the mind, but as long as nobody finds a cure for it, the Sheriff will have to keep settling for traildust in my case."
"There sure is projectionist work everyplace you look," Merle said, "but the machinery itself, it's dangerous, and somehow, I'm not sure why, but - more complicated than it needs to be."
"Yes, it continues to puzzle me," Roswell agreed, "this irrational worship of the Geneva movement, and the whole idea of a movie projector being built like a clock - as if there could be no other way. Watches and clocks are fine, don't mistake my meaning, but they are a sort of acknowledgement of failure, they're there to glorify and celebrate one particular sort of time, the tickwise passage of time in one direction only and no going back. Only kind of movies we'd ever get to see on a machine like that'd be clock movies, elapsing from the beginning of the reel to the end, one frame at a time.
"One problem the early watchmakers had was that the weight of the moving parts would affect the way the watch ran. Time was vulnerable to the force of gravity. So Breguet came up with the tourbillon, which isolated the balance wheel and escapement off on a little platform of their own, geared to the third wheel, rotating about once a minute, assuming in the course of the day most positions in 3-D space relative to the gravity of the Earth, so the errors would cancel out and make time impervious to gravity. But now suppose you wanted to turn that around."
"Make gravity impervious to time? Why"
Roswell shrugged. "It's that one-way business again. They're both forces that act in one direction only. Gravity pulls along the third dimension, up to down, time pulls along the fourth, birth to death."
"Rotate something through space-time so it assumes all positions relative to the one-way vector 'time.'"
"There you go."
"Wonder what you'd get."

--A.T.D., p.456-457

edited to add, this review is probably the most succinct I've come across.
Choice quote:
"Having finally finished, I felt like an exhausted swimmer crawling onto the far shore of a body of water that turned out to be even wider than it looked."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who the fuck is Mister Glasses?

I just don't even know ...

....any more. Yea, you think for me. Much better.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mr. Bungle MonSunday!!!

A couple of weeks back I made a post to Metafilter about the now defunct Mr. Bungle, one of my all-time favorite bands. The gist of it was several videos I stumbled across on youtube recently, fanmade clips for tracks off their 3rd and final album California:

Now, excellent (if I may say so myself...) posting is only one-half of the metamagic. The comment thread always tends to bring out the best in jokes, debates, anecdotes and extensive bonus linkage.

Several new pieces of info I picked up in the resulting thread include:

-for the first time since the California tour, the core Bungle members played together on-stage, as part of a John Zorn performance in San Fran (low-key, but Patton, Spruance, Winant and Dunn are all in there)
-Quote Unquote was not the only music video they made; it appears that they also had a series of live clips spliced together to make a video for My Ass Is On Fire (likely as a fuck-you to Warner Bros./MTV)
-California was the only one of their three albums never released on vinyl ... until recently, that is. As of October 4th it is available in the very bestest of best formats, and, as of today, I own a copy!
-saving the best for last: an absolute oddity of a scene from soap opera All My Children in which a couple of characters debate the legacy of Mike Patton. I'm not shitting you, check this out:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

May Be

Used to piss Negin off so much always answering 'maybe' to more or less every question.

This is a nice little parable I pulled of a post on the ePlaya, BM's forums:

There is a story of a farmer whose horse ran away. That evening the neighbors gathered to commiserate with him since this was such bad luck. He said, "May be."

The next day the horse returned, but brought with it six wild horses, and the neighbors came exclaiming at his good fortune. He said, "May be."

And then, the following day, his son tried to saddle and ride one of the wild horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. Again the neighbors came to offer their sympathy for the misfortune. He said, "May be."

The day after that, conscription officers came to the village to seize young men for the army, but because of the broken leg the farmer's son was rejected. When the neighbors came to say how fortunately everything had turned out, he said, "May be."

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Will Always Negates Defeat

Based on a recommendation from my step-bro back in July, I went to see the Flaming Lips last night at the Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. Despite the apprehension I felt upon arrival - it's been a cold+rainy enough September already and the ground was pure mud in front of the stage - it turned out to be one of the best concerts I've ever seen.

Singer Wayne Coyne came out 5 minutes before they started and warned everyone that they had defied logic and set up very close to the edge of the stage, also giving the heads up that should it start to rain, they'd need to shut things down and move everything back. But already the night had that special feel, where we could just collectively will the bad weather away. Sure, why not - it worked. Their stage show was absolutely breathtaking, filled with confetti, streamers, giant balloons floating around through the crowd, and Wayne's signature 'space bubble' run across the crowd's heads. Won't even attempt to explain the various visuals depicted on the giant round screen, but suffice to say that the band members make their stage entrance by emerging out of a vagina.

Uh ... anyways, this song was the highlight for me:

Despite having seen them once before (a midnight Bonnaroo set 7 years ago, which I believe was the first time they decided to do Dark Side of the Moon, their most recent recorded output) I really didn't know much about them, so having Colter there with me helped in identifying songs I particularly liked - not that there was a single one I didn't like..

So anyways, coming home I was motivated to go back through my concert stub collection and put together my top 10, as I knew this would certainly be up there. It wound up making #3.

10. Dave Matthews Band w/Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - April 20th 2002,Corel Centre, Ottawa, ON
Although I've lost interest in DMB since then, the treat of seeing them come out for the encore with all 10 members of both bands, and play a 35min. version of #41 will always stay special memory-wise.

9. Secret Chiefs 3 w/ Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - January 8th 2006, Richard's On Richards, Vancouver, BC
One of those rare occasions where an opening band upstages the main act ... and, I mean, Secret Chiefs were still really, really good. But Sleepytime was just that much better. ("Wake Up!")

8. Radiohead - December 12th 1995, Warehouse, Toronto, ON
First concert so it has to make the list, but to have the chance to see The Bends performed in entirety, plus roughly half of Pablo Honey - it's just not something that will ever happen again I bet. Bonus points for my first crowd surfing experience coming at the hands of the opening band's singer.

7. Gogol Bordello - November 2008, Abandoned Air Base, Koln, DE
The only one I don't have a concert stub from so I can't come up with the exact date or location but ... seeing Gogol in an old German aircraft hangar was such a surreal experience, yet so apt!

6. Daniel Lanois w/ Tortoise - October 17th 2005, Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC
Tortoise would probably be my all-time favorite live band, so to get to see them first open with their own set, then come back and act as the backing band for a living Canadian legend, all culminating in the legendary (literally - don't think it was ever recorded) original composition 'Illinois', speaks for itself.

5. Pearl Jam - August 22nd 1998, Molson Park, Barrie, ON
PJ knew what they had to do to rescue me from the combination of a giant blunt and a shitty opening set from Cheap Trick: they had to come out and play a 3.5hr set that stretched over all their albums. So they did. And they encored with Yellowledbetter!

4. Dillinger Escape Plan w/ Hella - November 15th 2005, Red Room, Vancouver, BC
Like the Bungle show at #1, this one had the feel of something that could go off the rails and get dangerous. Hella damn near upstaged the main act, but Dillinger came out and pulverized the crowd. Red Room is a basement venue and it wall-to-wall packed, so the singer would climb into the rafters and disappear, then swing down with the mic screaming and land in the crowd kicking and punching. It was, mmm, chaotic. And they played When Good Dogs Do Bad Things! Sans Patton, unfortunately.

3. Flaming Lips - September 26th 2010, Malkin Bowl, Vancouver, BC
See above, lazy ass.

2. Rage Against the Machine w/ GangStarr - November 29th 1999, Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, ON
And they thought they could keep us in our seats ... as the lights went down and Rage got ready to take the stage, a crowd of about 60 or 80 people assembled in a face-off with the general admission floor guards. Myself and two friends joined. I remember going over the head of a security guard who was picking up a guy bigger than me ... as I ran into the crowd I looked back and saw the guy get thrown like a sack of potatoes back into the seating area. It was worth it to be in the pit though .. I still remember during the encore, as they played Killing in the Name, looking up as they turned on all the houselights and everyone in the entire stadium was standing, shaking fists and ready to change the world. Hopefully some moms at least got yelled at later that night.

1. Mr. Bungle - July 30th 1999, Guvernment, Toronto, ON
We arrived at the venue to be told doors would be delayed 2 hours since the band had been held up at the border. Ok, we said, and proceeded to set up shop under a highway overpass and consume way too much hash.
We head back to the venue (the Government/used to be RPM I believe, next to what was then the Warehouse and last I checked is called KoolHaus) and get inside to find it has been totally oversold. The place was packed to the point where you could hardly move, and it's July in Toronto ... not nice. Took about 3 hours before Bungle finally came out on stage, as I guess the border delay was worse than expected. The whole time, the venue is playing that little 5 second intro clip from California, the hawaiian music, on a loop ... and man, people started to lose it, screaming for them to change the music, eventually throwing bottles at the stage and any staff who would show their faces. It was pretty scary.
The worst part was that they only let MB play for 45 minutes before they were booted because the venue had the longest running Friday night clubnight in the city. Still though, only six songs (Sweet Charity, Retrovertigo, Air Conditioned Nightmare, & Vanity Fair from California, Quote Unquote from the self-titled debut, and Ma Meeshka Mow Sqwaz off Disco) and yet ... here it is @#1.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

They Live

Continuing on my fascination quest with the city of Detroit, today I found an interesting 3-part mini-documentary on the new directions the city is moving in. Narrated by Johnny Knoxville (of Jackass fame) and hosted on the Palladium Blog (whatever that is, they apparently have other exploration videos I'll have to take a look at) there's some inspiring stuff within. I particularly enjoyed parts one and three; part two, which focuses heavily on the city's legendary musical output over the years, is bogged down by one of the two co-hosts, a rather annoying guitarist from some band.

My personal highlights are Larry Mongo, the dude in the pink shirt in part one ("About 5 years ago, I saw white women runnin' down the road. Used to be, you saw white women runnin', you wondered 'Who's chasin' 'em?' But then I realized, they joggin'...") and the art houses in part three.

And consider yourself warned, hipsters abound.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cinqo de Mayo's on Tuesday, in September

In April of 2007, I went to see a movie called Grindhouse in the theatre. It was actually a double feature, two films done by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, a sort-of homage to 80's style slasher/gore flicks complete with fake trailers between the two features.

It was, to this day, the single best movie-going experience I've ever had. The theatre in question, the Van East Cinema, is owned by a local Asian family who - appropriate for such a film - don't give a shit what you do so long as they get their cash. It was epic. People were passing around joints in the line, I walked in with a twelve pack under my arm, and as the lights went down my friend Frankie opened his trenchcoat and removed a bottle of rye, saying, in an Irish-Italian mafioso voice, "Perhaps we could strike up some kinda deal!?"

Amongst the fake trailers at the 'intermission' were Hobo With A Shotgun, Zombie Werewolves of the SS, and Machete. And guess what? Robert Rodriguez has gone ahead with his promise to make Machete into a full-length feature. Trailer is available here, and an excellent interview with star Danny Trejo ('Tortuga' on Breaking Bad) is available here.

Choice excerpt:

AVC: How are you able to be so prolific?

DT: I love doing it. Let me tell you something. When I was young, I was an armed robber. I did robberies. And there’s no adrenaline rush like that. When you’re using drugs and doing robberies, it’s hard to distinguish whether you’re doing robberies to support your drug habit, or doing drugs to support your robbery habit. Those guys that flip on motorcycles—it’s like the same kind of adrenaline. It’s unreal. The only time I ever felt that was when I heard Andrey Konchalovskiy yell, “Action!” And then I was like, “Wow. Here we are again. This whole adrenaline—” But this time I didn’t have a gun. I was like, “Wow. This is awesome.” I just totally got hooked. I found my calling. And then when I got my check, I said, “Fuck.” [Laughs.] “Wait a minute. For the first half of my life, I went to prison for being a bad guy. Now they’re paying me to be a bad guy.”

AVC: Did you take acting classes?

DT: In 1985 it was a little different. I would just go with the extras and the director would see me. I was always Inmate No. 1, and I always had one line like, “Kill ’em all.” [Laughs.] It was like, “I can do this.” I remember a director handed me a shotgun and he said, “Kick in this door and take control.” There was a poker game going inside, and the director said there would be a couple of stunt people inside. He said to improvise. So I kick in the door, somebody jumps up, I bash them with the shotgun, and I ask this guy, “Oh, you wanna die, huh?” This lady starts screaming, and I put this gun right in her face. So the director yells, “Cut! Cut! God, Danny, where did you study?” I said, “Let me see. Von’s. Safeway. Thrifty Mart.” [Laughs.] So all this stuff I was doing, I just knew. You’ve got to remember, I was Inmate No. 1 for the first five years of my career. So shit, I know how to be an inmate.

Scheduled for release on September 3rd and featuring a cast of - I find this hard to even comprehend - Robert de Niro, Steven Seagal, Lindsey Lohan, Michelle Rodriguez and Cheech Marin, not to mention Trejo, well, guess I know where I'll be.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Killing Time with Craigslist

I'm sitting here with my bags already packed and a couple hours to kill before my flight to Toronto. Already having exhausted my regular internet distractions, I've turned to the Best of Craigslist to fill the time.

So, just to share a few that literally had me laughing my ass off and spewing beer all over the keyboard:

Trading High 5's For Musical Instruments

Apologies, From A Pervert To A MILF

Free Toilet

I Stomped On Your Fire, You Choked On A Biscuit

Large Boat For Sale

Thanks For Shitting Your Pants

...but, for all the funny and probably-not-real ones, you find the odd post that seems totally sincere and intelligent, like this one from a middle-age guy asking for style advice to win back the respect of his wife.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ready? Ready? Ready? Breathe!

In the realm of sample-based music, I didn't think I would ever hear anything weirder than Matmos' A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure (well not really, in fact I own at least one weirder sample album, an indie disc I picked up years ago in Eugene, Oregon that's mostly built out of recordings of bathtubs draining). But anyways, forget all that noise, because .... wait for it ....

Nine Inch Niles' The Seattleward Spiral has arrived! because I know you've been waiting for-evarr for this one

I won't even attempt to explain it. Listen to it if you dare, I estimate the average human being will lose 10 brain cells per minute, and don't blame me if your head explodes at some point. It's actually almost a form of aural torture.
I will say though, even if the end product is pretty damned rough around the edges, the api script used to create it is really something else, and could eventually lead to some nifty applications.

On the other end of the spectrum (and if you need a quick q-tipping to wash that noise out of your ears), this seems like a fantastic excuse to revisit Kutiman's ThruYou project - possibly the best website I came across in all of 2009. I was - still am - ecstatic to see that it is preserved online.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Stranger Than ... Nothing

Via the Projects section on Metafilter comes one of the greatest website ideas in years: Fictopedia!

From the FAQ:
"One of the guiding principles of the Fictopedia experiment is to see if people can learn to live with a little inconsistency. We're so used to treating our legends and fictions as if they were academically researched, factual histories, that we forget that stories don't have to add up, as long as they are GOOD. Thus, if someone writes an article about a character and then 3 people incorporate that character in other articles in ways that are totally inconsistent (in one article he's a knight in a fantasy world, in one he's space captain, in a third, he's a private in WWII), its nothing to worry about. Its just 3 creative reinterpretations of the same character"

The possibilities are endless. For example, although this is creative fiction, the article creators don't retain any copyright control over it, so what's to stop someone from reading an article on Norwegian slam poet Arnis Radis and deciding to 'become' that person, perhaps making a few viral videos and pushing them out onto the 'Net.

For a glimpse into how the project was conceived and fleshed out, here is the original Projects thread. Watch for my article on the Bantalorean Vocal Encoder to appear soon, as I've slowly been developing it throughout my recent treeplanting days.

edit 22/06: my article has already been added to!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

buzzin buddy

Google's answer to Facebook finally appeared in the form of Buzz. Not sure how I feel about it but I'll roll with it for a bit.

Some of the doubts expressed by posters in the Metafilter thread centred around not knowing where and to whom updates would go. Like, if you are on Facebook (I'm not) and post something, you know that anyone you have as a contact will see it, and that's it. But with Buzz, it's already tied in to your email and other sites linked through a typical Google Account. So as a test run, I linked my blogger account - I'm pretty sure nobody reads this other than random Couchsurfing people, as I link to it through my info page - wrote this post to see if it shows up. Anyone else catchin my buzz?

Friday, January 1, 2010


Last year (by a day) I wrote about the Detroit man who froze to death and had a game of hockey played around his protruding legs. For a tertiary look at it, I'd like to recommend a viewing of Detroit 2009, The Movie - a 25 min. news montage. Its a bit slow, though interesting, in the early stages before getting to a somewhat heartbreaking clip with Johnny Redding's brother, a bizarre political inquiry / improvised musical number worthy of David Lynch, and some delightfully wacky interviews with city residents, including one guy who is building a flying saucer in his backyard, and another guy who serves raccoon barbecue buffets.
Enjoy and welcome to 2010!