Thursday, October 29, 2009

Good riddance.

Well, apparently the National Post is one day away from going tits-up. It's lost money from day one, and since CanWest is on shaky financial ground already, it's time for Izzy Asper's Dream Paper to go the way of the dodo.

Back when I was an undergraduate at UW and the Post was new, they would dump off stacks and stacks of these papers for us to read — and, presumably, once we graduated and got real jobs with real money, we'd subscribe to this newspaper we all got hooked on reading.

The first thing that jumped out at me, though, was the stupefyingly large number of spelling and grammatical mistakes; I figured that if I, a lowly physics student, could pick out grammatical mistakes in an ostensibly professional publication, what kind of quality could the thing be? Mind you, this was before I got interested in politics and the like, and didn't realize that the Post had a rightward slant that would make Ayn Rand blush.

So, in summary, the Post is (was?) a shitty right-wing rag, and I'm not the least bit sad to see it go. Guess you'll have to find a new mouthpiece, Fraser Institute!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Selling out.

I don't use the above epithet too often when describing an artist; after all, if you're a professional artist, isn't it better to sell your work (paintings, music, poetry, sculpture) than to not sell it?

However, when an artist clearly alters what they do for the specific purpose of selling more of their work, that is a clear example of selling out. Consider Nathan Followill, drummer from Kings of Leon, in response to their song "Use Somebody," from their latest (and most commercially-successful) album, Only by the Night, hitting Number One on pop radio:

Some people say we sold out, some people say we're taking the easy road. We don't get caught up in that. We're more interested in gaining new fans.

What an interesting quote: Followill doesn't deny actively changing the band's sound (as opposed to letting it evolve naturally). But hey, when your first album (Youth and Young Manhood) is somewhat critically-acknowledged, and your second album (Aha Shake Heartbreak) gave those same critics boners and sold just enough to give you a little taste of the good life (women, booze, fame)... it's hard not to want to shift into a different gear — now that the critics know who you are and are salivating in anticipation of your next release, you're going to get a lot of press — so why not rake in a lot more bucks by appealing to the masses?

Problem is, they did so by actively changing the type of music they play. Aha was a fantasic record precisely because it didn't buy into all those mainstream verse-chorus-verse conventions; whenever I listen to it, I can't help but be reminded of Songs from Big Pink, which is as offbeat an album as you'd ever get from a group which was within spitting-distance of mainstream success. Their next album, Because of the Times, sounded very different and received an extremely mixed critical reaction: some called it mature, some called it misogynist, and others plain-ol' didn't know what to think. At any rate, it sold a lot of copies, topped three overseas charts, and got them a lot of press for their next album, the aforementioned Only by the Night.

Now, it would be easy to paint me as one of those, "Oh, you only like stuff if it's obscure" music-snobs... and yeah, that's somewhat true, insofar as I like a lot of bands that are a bit, well, out-there. But my CD collection is well-stocked with tons of Beatles, Hendrix, Zeppelin, every David Lee Roth-era Van Halen album, and even a Tragically Hip album (Trouble at the Henhouse), so I hope that shoots a hole in that caricaturization.

But, like Sloan and Treble Charger and doubtless countless others before (and after) them, Kings of Leon changed their art to sell more albums. I liked them before the change, and I don't like them after.

They have sold out, and they are probably never coming back.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

An open letter to my gendermates.


I write to you on behalf of a friend of mine — a chick, a broad, a dame — who has recently been jerked-around by one of us.

Listen up, guys. Let's say you get set-up with a girl, on a surprise double-date of sorts. You chat, you flirt, you touch her arm to show her you're interested — they love that shit, as you know — and, when the first bar you're at closes down, you ask her to accompany you to a second. Then, when you drop her off at the end of the night, ask for her phone number, obtain it, enter it into your d-bag cell phone...


You see, all the stuff I mentioned above gives women the impression you like them romantically. If you actually don't like them romantically, either (a.) don't do all that stuff in the first place or, assuming you don't like them romantically but you kinda like hanging out with them all the same, (b.) man-up, call them fairly soon, get together again, but don't do all the douchey flirty stuff; you may also wish to come out and say, "Hey, I really like hanging out with you, but in a 'pants-on' kind of way." Make a joke out of it, you poor-man's Don Rickles you.

Chicks tend to take this stuff all personal. I know, us guys, we get rejected by a woman, we'll feel kinda crappy about it for little while, but then we'll fire up the goat-porn, crank one out to clear our heads, and go make ourselves a sandwich. Women, though... women are different. Get this through your thick skulls, fellas.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rocking-out with his fiscally- and socially-conservative cock out.

More disturbing than you ever thought possible:

It was bad enough that he butchered a Beatles song... now this?!

Oh, Peter Criss, where are you, now that we need you?

Monday, October 12, 2009

I really thought I'd have my shit together by now.

Occasionally, I have a major crisis in confidence, and today finds me in one of them. I've definitely had them before, so this is nothing new. And, as the comments to that post will attest, I'm not alone — which helps mitigate the overall shittiness/uneasiness I'm feeling at the moment.

On the surface, the major parameters of "someone who's got their shit together" are all in place:
  • Steady job from which it's nearly impossible to get fired: Check.
  • Apartment in a quasi-swanky, yet fairly-boring, part of town: Check.
  • Car which has newly-smuggled-into-the-country tires: Check.
  • No bastard-children floating around, to my knowledge: Check.
  • Financial advisor who owns a sailboat and wears suspenders: Check.
  • Houseplant named Sparky who is between 7 and 8 years old: Check.
When I think about all this, I'm tempted to say to myself, "J, you whiny little bitch, you have the cushiest life in the god damn world. Shut the hell up and grow a pair; you might need them someday, if you can ever figure out how to eventually lure a woman into your lair."

Which is true. (Sadly.)

But, let's face it... I'm not getting any younger, and my general feelings of indecision really aren't going away. What am I going to do with my life? Am I going to be a classroom teacher forever, or move onto something else education-related? Will I ever club a woman and drag her back to my cave to have my babies as I protect her from the sabre-toothed tigers? Hell, is my cave going to remain in the 416, or will I move somewhere else, eventually? And, why does my apartment smell vaguely of cigarette smoke? Has Crazy Cat Lady downstairs just torn into a new carton of Marlboros? And, if so, how the hell is the smoke getting in here?

Ferris Bueller was right. Life does move pretty fast.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I'm a bigger music-nerd than you ever thought possible.

I couldn't persuade anyone I know to come with me, so I'm seeing Steely Dan at Massey Hall solo.

Come to think of it, that might be for the best. Because the Dan is so resolutely unpopular with my friends — some people even show an open and vigorous hatred for Becker and Fagen — I won't have to "drag" someone against their will. It'll just be me and my fellow nerds, nerding-out to the finest nerd-jazz-rock ever made.

A few samples are below. Now, before you go all crazy and say, "Dude, these guys sound like elevator music," I KNOW it sounds like elevator music, at first. I am fully aware of this. But, take a minute and take this music seriously. After the initial shock wears off, you'll realize these guys are absolute geniuses in terms of melody, the way they arrange their various instruments, and even the lyrics are worth a listen because they're not the typical "ooh ooh baby love love love" claptrap that pervades popular music. So, enjoy.

Hey Nineteen
Home At Last
My Old School
Do It Again (excellent live version here)
Razor Boy

And yes, the live version of Do It Again features Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, one of the best guitarists of the late 20th century, on bongos.

Friday, October 09, 2009

I wish this was a joke.

But, it's not a goofy mock-up. It's real.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

This could be the greatest work of art ever created by mankind.

It sure beats the hell out of The Last Supper.

Seriously, go here.

I love the dancing during the solo. Perfect!

Another shameless plug.

Have 20 minutes to spare on Saturday night? Want to hear some kooky/fun/odd music? C'mon out to Everyone's a DJ at Disgraceland (Bloor, just west of Ossington), won't you? I'll be on from midnight to 12:20 am, and will likely be drinking both before and after that. The focus this time will be "fun music," and I can't guarantee that I won't play "Tits On The Radio" by Scissor Sisters, because that song is friggin' awesome.

Also, Matt (the guy who runs EaDJ) has suggested to me that I'm capable of DJing an entire night at a bar somewhere here in this fair burgh. He says it's about four hours, top to bottom... which, at this point in my DJing life, having played only little 20-minute sets in front of people (alright, once I had to do 30 minutes), that seems a little daunting. It'd probably end up going really quickly, though, right?

Anyway, stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The tiebreaker.

In the end, they just weren't good enough.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Dual Detroit Tigers plotlines!

Boy-howdy, it's a busy day for the Detroit Tigers. Consider:

Plotline #1
Tomorrow, owing to the fact that they're tied with the Minnesota Twins atop the American League Central division standings after 162 games — leading by a wide margin with only a month to go, to boot — the Tigers and Twins will play a one-game, winner-gets-into-the-playoffs game. You, Dear and Loyal Reader, know this already, as you doubtless have any new blog posts telegrammed and/or telegraphed to you the very minute they come out, and I broke this breaking story to you yesternight. However, there's another big big story to deal with for the Tabbies.

Plotline #2
This past Friday night, the Tigers and Chicago White Sox played a night game which ended around 10 pm. After this spirited contest, in which the Chicagoans the prevailed, one Mr. Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers' leading hitter, the Tigers' most expensive contract this season, said this to Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press: "Right now, I’m focused on the next game. I’m going to my house right now and go relax."

Only, he didn't. He went out and hoisted more-than-a-few with some buddies of his at a hotel in suburban Detroit. Big deal, right? Mickey Mantle was a notorious boozer; David Wells pitched a perfect game with a vicious hangover; Dock Ellis once dropped acid and proceeded to throw a no-hitter.

Consider the following:
  • Cabrera went to the bar at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham. (I checked the rates here; 300 bones a night.)
  • Who was staying at that hotel? His buddies. On the Chicago White Sox.
Now, while we'd all like to think this was the Good Olde Days and baseball players would cross the street so they wouldn't be forced to look a player on opposing team in the eye, competitors know each other and hang out occasionally.

However, in light of the fact that, at 7 pm on Saturday night, the Tigers were about to play the most important game that season to date, these details seem to make the case for Cabrera not exactly being the shiniest apple in your grocer's produce section:
  • He drank.
  • A lot.
  • Until 5 in the morning.
  • He took a cab home (that responsible guy), and was loud enough coming home that he woke up his 4-year-old kid.
  • His wife, Rosangel, was none too pleased with this, so she started a fight with him.
  • Blows were exchanged; Miguel was seen at Saturday night's game with a vicious cut on his cheek, and Rosangel apparently had a cut on her lower lip. (Charges were not filed by either party, and the police say they were both "aggressors.")
  • Because Rosangel wanted Miguel away for a while, the police were obliged to take him down to the station.
  • At 7 am, he blew a .26 on a Breathalyzer; a .35 at a cop-shop means an instant trip to the hospital, to be on the safe side.
  • This is presumably several hours after he stopped drinking.
  • The morning before the biggest game of the season.
  • And the Tigers' General Manager, Dave Dombrowski, had to pick him up at the police station.
Can you imagine doing that? Let's say it's the morning before your big presentation — if it goes well, just think, you'll finally be able to seal the deal on that lucrative Henderson account — and your boss has to pick you up from the slammer because you got drunk and fought your wife. Hell, you might even still be drunk during the presentation.

All that being said...

Go Tigers.
Beat those Twins.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Bands, baseball and boo for marking.

There are several bands that, given my music nerddom and taste for indie-rock, I feel like I should like, but really don't. A few:
  • Metric (their melodies are empty, and Emily Haines' voice gets on my nerves)
  • Modest Mouse (I've tried with their pre-"Roll On" stuff, but it just doesn't click for me)
  • The Flaming Lips (although this may change; I liked the song they did on the Colbert Report)
  • The Doors (mostly because the same dozen songs are exceedingly overplayed everywhere)
  • U2 (good early work, god-awful for the last 15 years; also, they're corporate whores)
I'm sure there are others, but these come to mind presently. Anyone else have any pet-peeve band they'd like to share? Make a comment.

* * * * * * * *

The Tigers managed to hold on to a 5-3 win today against Chicago, and of course the Twins swept the Royals easily... which means there'll be a one-game playoff for the AL Central title on Tuesday afternoon. I don't get TBS on my cable anymore, which means either (a.) I'll head up the street to the local bar and beg them to put the game on, (b.) I'll listen to the radio broadcast of it over the Internet, or (c.) I'll break into someone's house who I think should have a decent cable package and hope I don't get caught, and possibly help myself to snacks.

* * * * * * * *

It's begun again: my extreme distaste for marking has resulted in a small backlog of stuff for my red pen to attack. Some of this was baseball-related; these days I can't listen to a Tiger game anymore without following along nervously with my fellow fans at Bless You Boys. However, most of it still stems from the fact that it's easily the most tedious part of my job, bar none. I'd rather spend hours mixing up 0.3-molar solutions of hydrochloric acid, attend week-long lab safety workshops at the Board offices, or be trapped on a plane beside Del Griffith when he takes off his socks so he can relax.

"Six bucks and my right nut says we're not landing in Chicago."

Friday, October 02, 2009

Radicals vs. Eccentric Lunatics.

Ron Paul was on the Daily Show earlier this week.

While I vigorously disagree with pretty much Paul says — the Gold Standard seems like a pretty good way to freeze up the markets tighter than Mariah Carey's painted-on jeans — I really do like the guy.

Paul earnestly believes in what he says. Now, while ├╝ber-douche ex-Premier Mike Harris also believed in what he said, and I disagreed with 99.99% of what he said as well, Paul earns my respect because he'll tell you exactly what's on his mind, and why. Harris, on the other hand, was sneaky; he'd piss on your leg and tell you it's TAX CUTS TAX CUTS TAX CUTS.

Not Ron Paul, though. "We need to lower taxes, because the government can't tell anyone what to do." Crazy? Sure, but at least his crazy runs clear. Harris, late 1990s: "We need to lower taxes, because relative to the other provinces, and the future of Ontario depends on having a business environment which blah blah blah privatize everything, blah blah."

(Actually, he never would've said "privatize everything." He'd piss on your leg and tell you it didn't make sense for someone as pushy as the Government of Ontario to, oh, I dunno, oversee the testing of the municipal water supply in Walkerton in 2000. That didn't turn out well, by the way.)

For the record, this Ron Paul Lovefest was inspired by a quote I read on, posted by one "rexslamman," which was on a link I followed from this brilliantly satirical website:

Eccentric lunatics aren't radicals. Radicals use compelling, rational arguments combined with force to push extremist political dogma. Ron Paul is like Tori Amos, but replace rape with taxes and terrible music with libertarianism. Cynthia McKinney, on the other hand, was probably dropped on her head as an infant.

He's blunt, but he's got a point. (Sorry, kellylo, I've never been able to get into Amos' music either.)