Monday, January 30, 2006

Reconnecting with the Divine

Dear God:

I'm entirely sure why I've been calling you up with an almost scary regularity over the last few weeks. Mostly, I've been fine to struggle through this thing called life on my own, with the faith that you'd just kind of dump whatever wisdom was necessary on me, if I looked for it deeply enough.

And that's always been a big thing for me. Wisdom and understanding. I've long felt for awhile that one of the big reasons that we're all here is to ultimately learn something -- and to hopefully learn something profound. And so, given that there's no way of knowing which things are there to teach us something, and which things are just kind of there, I tend to look for meaning in everything that crosses my path. Because if there isn't someone actively trying to push a lesson down your throat, I don't think there's any harm in learning a lesson anyway.

But things are different right now. I feel like there's some sort of massive message being pushed my way, and I'm desperate to get it, but so far I haven't managed to piecfe it together. I'm not sure if it's because I'm too thick-headed, or because I've spent so much time trying to figure these things out on my own that I wouldn't recognize a divine message if it bit me on the arse, but I definitely feel like I need some guidance and direction right now. I want to know the point of all of this. I want to know what it is that I'm supposed to learn. I want to know what I'm supposed to take away from all this.

As disconnected as I've become from the divine, I'm still of the opinion that you're not the sort of God who gets surprised. You're not one to say, "Oh, hey, wow, I hadn't thought of that," or "Wow, didn't see that one coming!" so none of this should shock you. So, you dumped this stuff (or,depending on how you look at it, allowed this stuff to be dumped) on my lap, knowing exactly how I'd react to it. And while I don't necessarily think that it's always about me, while I'm open to the possibility that the point here is about someone else, I also have complete faith that after many, many millions of years of steering things on this planet towards some unknown ultimate fate, you wouldn't create a situation where only one person is learning something.

So, what am I supposed to get out of this?

What's the lesson?

What am I learning?

Because this is a big one. And I don't want to walk away from this without some kind of lesson.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Random 10, sneaking in not quite under the radar. Crap.

I’m probably too tired to be doing this, and while it’s technically Saturday, my brain has always figured that it doesn’t become the next day until you go to bed and then wake up the next morning. Which makes it kind of weird for those days that I can’t fall asleep. I end up with one long 48-hour day, and one day that just doesn’t exist at all.

  1. Nine Inch Nails – Right Where It Belongs – I’m actually a pretty big NIN fan, and love dragging out some of Reznor’s slower, softer stuff to play for people who’ve never heard him before. There’s always a “That’s Nine Inch Nails!?” kind of moment that’s fun. This is probably the best track off the “With Teeth” album which, while good, didn’t quite resonate with me as much as some of his earlier stuff (I still consider “The Fragile” his best work).

  2. Nine Inch Nails – We’re in This Together – And speaking of “The Fragile”…here’s a nice, angry love song from it. And one of my favourite Nine Inch Nails tracks (my mind might be playing tricks on me at this hour, but a part of me thinks that I have a soft, almost ballad-like version of this song somewhere).

  3. Enigma – Traces (Light and Weight) – I had kind of a thing for Enigma when they (him?) first appeared in the early nineties. They had this weird kind of hybrid music, mixing Gregorian chanting with synthesized bass and drum stuff, that I’d never heard anywhere before. I love listening to musical experiments, whether they work out for the best or not (although I definitely prefer the ones that work) and Enigma’s work might have been the first experience I had with an experimental sort-of musical hybrid. Having said all that, this song sounds like it was from one of their later albums that I downloaded but never listened to, because it doesn’t sound familiar.

  4. Pink Floyd – Nobody Home – Ah, after a few weeks of getting overrated Pink Floyd stuff, here’s a nice little piece about self-alienation. Have I mentioned here that I saw Roger Waters in concert at The Gorge in Washington in 2000? Fan-fucking-tastic show. I don’t care how much Gilmour, Mason and Wright have tried to maintain the band since Waters’ departure, Rog really was Pink Floyd. And couldn’t begin to tell you what I would have given to see the band reunited for Live Aid (I heard some MP3s from the show, and literally got shivers). This particular version is from this very weird “Every Brick In The Wall” version of the album that mixes together stuff from the original album, from the movie, and from the live release “Is There Anybody Out There?” into some kind of massive, all-things-to-all-people version. I don’t know if it’s an improvement over the original, but it’s certainly an interesting musical experiment.

  5. Depeche Mode – Black Celebration – I think I’m suffering from literary elephantitis tonight, so I’ll restrict my comments on this song to mentioning that the first time I heard it – at a concert – I thought it was a “Grand Celebration” they were singing about.

  6. Depeche Mode – Dangerous (Hazchemix) – This was a B-side to one of the singles off the “Violator” album, if memory serves. A pretty good song. Not a classic, exactly, but hardly dreadful. Though listening to this remix of the song, I can’t remember if it ever had any lyrics beyond the repetition of the word “Dangerous”…

  7. Milla Jovovich – You Did It All Before – I can’t even remember, for the life of me, why I downloaded this. But I have a recollection of reading somewhere that it was actually surprisingly good, for an album from a supermodel / actress – something more than just a vanity project. Don’t think I’ve ever listened to it before. And you know what? It’s actually not bad…

  8. Mark Morgan – Vault 13 – I actually had to look at the songs that were next to it on my playlist to even know what this was from, and then it struck me – Fallout! Video game soundtrack stuff is great, because you reminisce about the feelings created by the game. And in this case, it was your first bits of wandering around, exploring your nuclear holocaust bunker, before wandering out into the desert wasteland to begin your adventure. The music from Fallout couldn’t really be called music, exactly – it was more ambient, mood-setting, musical textures. But what fantastic ambient, mood-setting, musical textures they were.

  9. Erasure – Take a Chance On Me – Cheesy 80s techno-band takes on cheesy 70s Scandinavian fluff band. Abba was Scandinavian, right?

  10. Depeche Mode – Route 66 (Beatmasters Mix) – The Depeche Modes? Two Nine Inch Nails? Wow, this playlist didn’t stray far in the musica obscura, did it? I always like Depeche Mode’s take on “Route 66” (though my favourite is the one they smushed up with “Behind the Wheel”) so it’s kind of cool to hear this again. Even if this particular mix is kind of annoying.

  11. The Clash – Should I Stay or Should I Go – I actually know where this one is from – a CD titled something like “The Best Pub Jukebox Ever” which consists of two CDs. Some of the tunes from it I have heard more than just a time or two at a few pubs. Others, like this, I have yet to hear at a fine drinking establishment. Not to say that it doesn’t belong there. Just that I have yet to experience the joys of it in the pub environment.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Cranky pants.

Man, it looks like I was in a bitchy mood last night. Guess I didn't take my meds or something.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ask your doctor about casual indifference.

"Killing time."

I've always hated that phrase. But not because it isn't accurate. Rather, I've hated it for the exact opposite reason -- because it is tragically accurate. Because the things we do to kill time do exactly that -- they actively destroy portions of our life that we will never get back. The two hours you spent watching that terrible movie, they're gone forever. The hour you spent on that crappy television show, it's behind you. The four hours you spent in front of that video game, lost forever.

And yet we use those words so innocently, forgetting what they really mean.

"Hey man, what're you doing?"

"Oh, you know, killing time."

And without a thought to aftermath of the murder. Without a thought to the real victim -- you. You, who are now one hour, one day, one week, one month, one year older. And having done what?

Conspiracy theorists would argue that *this is the point*. That you aren't supposed to ask questions, that you aren't supposed to wonder why, that you aren't supposed to ask philosophical questions, that you aren't intended to ponder the validity of God. That you are intended to simply sit back and accept the "truth" as fed to you by network television, by newspaper moguls, by a Hollywood intent on anything but education.

And you know, I'm almost inclined to think those conspiracy theorists are on to something.

I've felt overwhelemed lately by the amount of pharmaceutical advertising I've seen during the rare bits of television I watch (and only on a couple of channels, to boot). Overwhelemed because the point appears to be that, as a culture, we are not looking for the best remedy or the healthiest alternative or, for lack of a better word, the truth. We are a culture looking for band-aids. We're a culture looking for something that will take the pain away. And there are corporations more than willing to help us accomplish that less-than-noble goal.

"Ask your doctor about 'Drug X'."

You know what? I don't want to ask my doctor about 'Drug X' because I'm very aware that you don't actually care about my health and welfare, and are actually interested only in placating me and my medical concerns, while you line your pocket-book with money made from selling me a product I don't actually need, and is likely terribly bad for me, all because you need to meet the demands of your shareholders.

Thanks, but no thanks.

What you're really hoping for is a culture, a society, that stops asking questions, that no longer searches for truth and meaning, and instead simply consumes whatever it is that is placed in front of them by the media. What you want is a culture of sheep, desperate for a shepherd, who will cling to whatever half-truth is offered to them, not because there's anything to it, but because it makes them feel better.

Already we're overmedicated and overentertained. Why draw the line anywhere at all. Ask your doctor about casual indifference. Ask your doctor how to stop caring about your fellow man. Ask your doctor how to isolate yourself from all the things that you don't want to think about. Ask your doctor how to become numb.

Monday, January 23, 2006

What a wonderful world...

Today I made an appearance downtown
I am an expert witness because I say I am
And I said gentlemen, and I use that world loosely
I will testify for you, I’m a gun for hire,I’m a saint, I’m a liar
Because there are no facts, there is no truth
Just data to be manipulated
I can get you any result you like
What’s it worth to you?
Because there is no wrong, there is no right
And I sleep very well at night
No shame, no solution, no remorse, no retribution
Just people selling t-shirts
Just opportunity to participate in the pathetic little circus
And winning, winning, winning

It was pretty big year for predators
The marketplace was on a roll
And the land of opportunity
Spawned a whole new breed of men without souls
This year notoriety got all confused with fame
And the devil is downhearted babe, cause
There’s nothing left for him to claim

- Don Henley
Garden of Allah

Listening to some Don Henley tonight, for no reason other than it's where my mouse drifted, but I took the volume up a few notches when this song came on. I still think it's one of the best depictions of the collapse of western society.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A day late and a dollar...yeah, I know, we've been through this crap already

Oh, let’s just get this stupid ball rolling.

  1. Mike Oldfield – Platinum – I think I’ve used this as my zero song before, and probably within the last few weeks. Can’t really explain it, except to say that I’ve been on a Mike Oldfield kick for, well, like, a few weeks now. It really does seem like I can’t get enough of his stuff. It kind of sucks that he’s seems to be slowing down his album publishing routine. *cries*

  2. Van Morrison – Till We Get The Healing Done – I went through a Van Morrison binge-downloading period about the same time that someone on Usenet went through a Van Morrison posting binge, so I’ve got plenty of songs that I’ve never heard before. Like this one.

  3. Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2) – What is it with overrated Pink Floyd stuff coming up in my random playlists? First “Comfortably Numb” and now this one. It’s a fine song, but far, far too passionately loved out of context. And I always preferred Part 1 and Part 3 of the “Another Brick in the Wall” series over this one. Curse you, random playlist generator!

  4. Alanis Morissette – Right Through You – Um…please, God, give me a song on which I have something valid and meaningful to say. Please?

  5. Mike Oldfield – Crises – Apparently my Oldfield binging continues into my Random 10. Which is kind of cool, actually.

  6. Booker T & The MG’s – Time is Tight – From the “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” soundtrack. Damn, that was a good movie. And a damn fine novel as well. Cheers to you, Dr. Thompson. May you rest easy, and may the Chivas flow like a river.

  7. Chris Isaak – Dancin’ – You know, I’ve never heard this before this moment, but I think I’m pretty much a Chris Isaak fan, regardless of what’s coming from him. He’s got a great kind of country / blues sensibility that makes me feel just a little run down. Which music should do from time to time.

  8. Twin Peaks – The Nightingale – Julie Cruise sang this beautiful song on the Twin Peaks soundtrack. And if memory serves me correctly, David Lynch wrote the lyrics. Has there been a finer show on television since the demise of this one? I think not. “That’s damn good coffee! And hot!”

  9. Depeche Mode – Little 15 – Definitely one of my favourite DM songs, and probably one of my favourite songs of all time. II can’t tell you how good this song makes this Random 10 feel.

  10. Radiohead – Wonderwall (Acoustic Version) – This recording kind of bites, so let’s just move along to the last song of the night.

  11. The Beatles – Come Together – Hippy-esque. I’m tired.


The coolest thing I've seen in, like, well, weeks, probably.

Okay, so, like, there’s a web page where you drop in your age, and it tells you what other famous people accomplished when they were your age. I think it’s supposed to be some kind of kick in the ass to motivate you to get out and do something really cool with your life, but in most cases I think it probably just makes people feel sad and insignificant.

Anyway, I found this site courtesy of “Stumble Upon” for Firefox and found this wonderfully moving accomplishment under the age of 32:

“Penniless and unemployed, Buckminster Fuller decided against suicide, resolving instead to live out the rest of his life as an experiment to see what one person could do to help humanity.”

And I just…wow.


I don’t think there’s words for what I’m feeling right now. Except that I find myself wishing that Buckminster Fuller were the patron saint of people who really, really wanted to give up their jaded, meaningless lives and try to do something to help humanity. Not that I’m Catholic or anything. Just…patron saints are cool.

Courtesy of the “Things other people accomplished while they were your age” site.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Random Boingo Random 10

Random Random time again.

We finished the read-through of “Welcome to the Monkey House” earlier tonight, and my brain is buzzing with the prospects for the play. We don’t, as of this moment, have a complete cast, but I think I figured out how to pull the last few strings together and get the show ready to roll. I’m going to let the idea sit in my head overnight and decide tomorrow if it’ll work, but I’m actually feeling kind of good about it.

Tonight’s Random Random is from the Oingo Boingo archive. Enjoy.

  1. My Life – “Hey, yeah, my life has come unraveled again…like so many threads; Hey, yeah, my life has begun unfolding, into so many pieces…” For such a depressing notion, it’s a pretty upbeat song. And a wonderful first track for the Random Random, as it pretty much describes how I’ve felt about the casting process of the play, thus far.

  2. Wild Sex (In the Working Class) – Not sure why, but this Boingo track has never done much for me. The particular version I’m listening to is from the live “Farewell” album, if anyone cares.

  3. Sweat – Damn. After starting off strong, we drift into a couple of songs that I’m less fond of. Okay, I know, the point of the Random 10 is not to necessarily listen to what you want to listen to but, you know, random stuff. Still…let’s get some good stuff. Please? Wait, hang on…”Without friction, there’s no heat; without heat, there can’t be fire, without fire there’s no desire…” Yeah, okay, those are good lines. And there’s a pretty cool saxophone solo. Okay, maybe this song ain’t so bad after all.

  4. Clowns of Death – Ah, now we’re into the gooooood stuff again. Sadly, this song never made it onto a studio album, and the only official recording is from the previously mentioned “Farewell” live album. Still, we take what we can get. “The clowns of death are marching on their hideous parade; Their glaring eyes are filled with hate, but I am not afraid; Their painted faces cracked with age, their makeup old and worn; With tattered wings and toothy grins to amplify their scorn.” How can you go wrong with lyrics like that?

  5. Dead Man’s Party – And this, I think, is what it’s all about. If there is an Oingo Boingo musical archetype, this is it. “I was struck by lightning walking down the street; I was hit by something last night in my sleep; It’s a dead man’s party, who could ask for more? Everybody’s coming, leave your body at the door.” I’m still not sure how Halloween has survived without them…*sob*

  6. Gratitude (Extended Dance Version) – Another of my favourites, though I’m not sure if the extended dance version is an improvement or not. “Now, is that gratitude?” Well, is it?

  7. No Spill Blood – And here we drift back into the less than favourites. Not a bad song, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s just…well, never done much for me.

  8. Long Breakdown – Boingo’s last two albums, for whatever reason, kind of stick out funny compared to their previous. This track is from their second-to-final album “Dark at the End of the Tunnel” which was, I think, the first Boingo album I ever heard (through a co-worker many, many years ago) and so it will always have a warm spot in my heart, even if the album seems kind of weird compared to their earlier efforts.

  9. Nothing to Fear (But Fear Itself) – “Hey neighbor let me give you some advice, the russians are about to pulverize us In our sleep tonight; That is if the crazy arabs or the riots don’t get us first; and the fire will rain down from the sky, the fire will rain down from the sky.” Need I say more?

  10. Helpless – And we end on a strong – but ultimately kind of sad – note. Still, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt exactly like this. “Countless long nightsWhile i stare at the wall, I ask myself over again... How did I end up in this little hell? How - did it ever begin?

And that’s it for another exciting adventures in Random Randoms. When can you expect to see this again? Only the shadow knows…

Saturday, January 14, 2006

A day late and a crapload short

Late by a day, which is becoming the norm. I won’t even bother making excuses, because I’m sure you’re tired of hearing them, and I’m just as tired of giving them.

  1. A3 – The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness – Not the song I was thinking there might be a home for in Monkeyhouse, but somehow it’s the one that’s been stuck in my head for a few days now. Have I mentioned yet how amazing these guys are? “Exile On Coldharbour Lane” is an absolute must-buy of an album. Seriously. Or download it, I guess. Just, you know, get your damn hands on it.

  2. Depeche Mode – Personal Jesus (Pump Mix) – Depeche Mode’s “Violator” album was one of my favourites around Grade 11 or 12, and this was easily one of the best tracks from the album (though I actually preferred “Enjoy the Silence” by just a wee bit). I’m not sure exactly where my current copy of this remix is from, but I know I had a copy of it somewhere at the time, when DM’s dark and brooding words spoke to my tormented, angst-ridden soul. God, I’m glad I’m not a teenager anymore. Still, the song remains catchy.

  3. Evanescence – Forgive Me – Seems to be from one of the many bootleg albums that flooded the Internet after the popularity of “Fallen.” You just about couldn’t shake a stick without bumping into something related to Evanescence. I wonder if they’re ever going to get around to releasing a second album (and no, their live album release doesn’t count)?

  4. Nine Inch Nails – I Do Not Want This – One of my favourites off “The Downward Spiral” and one that, at one time, I pictured as opening credit music for a film I wanted to write. A nice blend of quiet and somber sadness that drifts into a frustrated rage. The final, repeated series of lines “I want to know everything, I want to be everywhere, I want to fuck everyone in the world, I want to do something that matters,” always kind of reminded me of the frustration felt in Tyler Durden’s lost hope speech from Fight Club: “We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.”

  5. Sheryl Crow – A Change Will Do You Good – I kind of go warm and cold on Sheryl Crow. Some days I like her, some days she seems…I don’t know, kind of boring and obvious. I think I’m leaning towards an off day today.

  6. They Might Be Giants – Number Three – Ah, my favourite of TMBG’s classic somgs. “There’s only songs in me, and just wrote the third; Don’t know where I got the inspiration, or how I wrote the words.” Love it!

  7. Alanis Morissette – Joining You – Sounds like it’s from an Unplugged recording of some kind. I don’t seem to recognize the song, which isn’t surprising, as I don’t know much of her stuff, beyond the songs that tend to hit the radio. I don’t mind Alanis most of the time, but every once and awhile her stuff feels a bit too much like prefab-alternative to really ring true. But maybe that’s just me.

  8. Donna Summer – Hot Stuff – And this one…God, I don’t even know where it came from. Moving right along.

  9. Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb – From the “Under Construction” album (an early-on-in-development demo version of the Wall, which is absolutely fascinating to listen to). Unfortunately, even the novelty of this early version – completely with alternate lyrics – can’t change the fact that I have, for years, found this song ridiculously overplayed. And this coming from a massive Pink Floyd fan. I’m just sick of everyone and their dog falling all over themselves over this song, when they have dozens of other songs – just as good – that most people have never heard before.

  10. Roger Waters – Going to Live in LA – I’m not sure where – if anywhere – this song originally appeared. I’ve got it as part of a fan-created extended version of “Radio KAOS” called “Project KAOS” which adds about three or four songs to the album. Some good, some kind of just okay. This one definitely on the kind-of-just-okay side, though “Towers of Faith” is a great tune.

  11. Machines of Loving Grace – Golgotha Tenement Blues – From the Crow soundtrack. That’s a movie I haven’t seen in far, far too long.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Random TMBG Random 10

I’ve been threatening to do this for awhile, and tonight seemed like kind of the right day to do it, because I had kind of an off day, and I kind of need something to make me smile. And nothing makes me smile quite like They Might Be Giants. I mean, not to say that they make me smile more or better than other things, because that’s not entirely true, but they have an ability to make me smile in a unique way, a way that nothing else can quite accomplish.

Heck, it was them and their stupid decision to start podcasting that finally convinced me to download iTunes, in spite of that ranting, anti-podcast column I wrote a few weeks back. And that says a lot right there.

Now, this is not to imply that this going to become a regular Tuesday event, because it’s not. It’s going to be a completely random, whenever the heck I feel like it event (and I’m thinking next time, depending on my mood, I may tackle Oingo Boingo or Pink Floyd, another couple of bands I’m quite fond, and therefore have more than just a few albums to choose from).

For the record, there are 356 tracks in my TMBG playlist, including 34 albums. Random useless trivia for the win.

  1. Cage & Aquarium – This song always makes me laugh because the melody of the chorus seems to be drawn almost completely from the song “Age of Aquarius.” And how can you not love a lyric like “This is the spawning of the cage and aquarium”?

  2. Mainstream USA – Hahahahahahaha! I don’t know this song at all! 356 tracks to choose from in my random playlist, and this thing that I’ve never heard before comes up? Does that make any sense? “Mainstream USA, I flipped that guy the bird…” Hm, doesn’t sound too bad.

  3. Narrow Your Eyes – This seems to be a TMBG love-ish song, but it seems more about the end of a love than anything else. They do, actually, have a few songs that seems like honest-to-goodness love songs, and I usually cringe a little when I hear them, because for whatever reason they just seem so sappy coming from them. “Now let’s toast the sad, cold fact – our love’s never coming back; so let’s race to the bottom of a glass…” Yeah, that’s pretty much an end of love song, methinks.

  4. We’re the Replacements – Apparently a dig at the band “The Replacements” which, I must confess, I don’t actually get, because I haven’t heard the band. A song that is, on the surface, about a, you know, replacement band. But apparently done in the style of “The Replacements” – wow, so, so meta.

  5. Snail Dust – This is the Dust Brother’s remix of the song “Snail Shell” which is kinda funky. I spent months trying to figure out what the song “Snail Shell” was a metaphor for before I finally just gave in and accepted that it was a song about a snail. That’s what I love about these guys – you can spend an eternity trying to analyze their stuff, and still end up back where you started. With the weirdest idea you could imagine.

  6. They’ll Need a Crane – I have little to contribute about this song, except this quote, with which the song starts: “Love sees love’s happiness, but happiness can see that love is sad.” Yeah, take that.

  7. She’s Actual Size – A live version, which has what could be the finest drum solo of all time, in which the TMBG drummer mocks the style of almost a dozen other drummers. It’s like drum set karaoke or something. I’m not sure how that works, but it does.

  8. Pencil Rain – Another song that defies analysis, I think, but damn it’s catchy. Near as I can tell, it’s about the day it rained pencils, and a lot of people were killed. “And none who have witnessed all, can think of a nobler cause than perishing in the pencil rain.”

  9. Museum of Idiots – One of my favourites of their more recent songs. “They built this whole neighbourhood out of wood, out of wood. I guess I’ll still be around when they burn, burn it down.” I can’t even begin to explain why those lines appeal to me so much, but they do. Great, they’ll probably be stuck in my head for the next few days now.

  10. Boat of Car – And this one is just plain weird, including a sample of Johnny Cash singing “Dadday sang bass…” which seems staggeringly out of place. Actually, just about everything in this song seems staggeringly out of place.

And thus ends the Random TMBG Random 10, which will happen again randomly, unless it doesn’t, because it might not. You just can’t tell with random things, now can you.

Too Sick to Pray

Don't call the doctor, I'm gonna get better
Don't run for the priest, I'm gonna find some faith
Just because I burned my bible baby
It don't mean, I'm too sick to pray

- Alabama 3
Too Sick to Pray

A nice little quote pulled from the newly discovered (at least for me) band Alabama 3 (also known as A3 in North America, following a lawsuit from the country band named, yup, Alabama).

The chorus of this song – appropriately titled “Too Sick to Pray” – his been stuck in my head most of the day, I think, because it seems to just about match the kind of “cautiously optimistic” feeling that seems to pervade just about every corner of my life lately. It paints a lovely picture of a man who, in spite of having hit bottom, isn’t quite ready to give up hope yet.

And I really can’t think of anything lovelier than that. But then, I sometimes think I’m kind of weird that way.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

'It tastes like burning!'

Man, I’ve got a burning desire to write something, but nothing that is actually demanding my attention. I opened up “Pornographer’s Blues” and stared at it for about five minutes, but I was too sleepy for that much of a writing commitment, even though I’ve had the next few pages playing out in my head for the last few weeks, and have no doubt about where this chapter is going.

I also didn’t start a story that’s been on my mind about a couple of people who are trying to burn down a building, only to realize that neither of them has matches or a lighter. And I also didn’t do anything on an old, old story idea that I was somewhat randomly reminded of the other night, but that was mostly because upon further consideration, it’s not really much of a story, just kind of a gimmick with nowhere particularly interesting to go.

After being a fan of the tune “Woke Up This Morning” by A3 (the piece is used as the opening theme to The Sopranos) I finally got my hand on a few the band’s albums, and…well, I’m not sure if indescribable would really do it justice. What does “techno-country-gospel-acid-jazz” make you think of? The phrase kind of makes my head hurt a little bit, but the music is amazing. How come these guys aren’t bigger than they are? And how did I miss out on them for so many years?

I am inclined to agree, though, that their second album – La Peste – is a little weaker than their first – Exile on Coldharbour Lane. Which is not to say that it’s bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but “Exile” just seems to click a little bit better, somehow.

It’s on, I think, the third playthrough of the day. It made me smile like a goofy little kid when I first cued it up, because I just couldn’t believe how weird and wonderful and how right this bizarre combination of sound seemed.

In other news, I found my mind wandering a bit this afternoon, thinking about adolescence and how, sometimes, it seems as if we spend years fighting, clawing and biting, struggling to get away from all the things that we were as teens. And as we change, as we grow, are we really changing and growing – are we really improving? Or are we simply diluting the purity of who we were when we were younger, less jaded, less burned by the world and by the people in it? Every step I’ve taken in my life that has carried me away from the values and beliefs I cherished in my younger days made me feel a little bit more like a sell-out, even as it made me feel a little bit more capable of surviving in the world. But which of those two is more important? Survival, or staying true to yourself?

Of course, as is the norm, there are no answers to questions like this, only the questions themselves, which is fine. Because more often than not, it is the journey, and not the destination, that is the most fun, right? Who cares exactly what the truth turns out to be. It is the question for that truth that will ultimately be the most rewarding thing.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Random 10 and the word "crap" for no good reason

Just for the record, this *isn’t* a late Random 10, because I did technically begin at 11:22, which was still Friday. It was just unfortunate that I started with an album-long composition (or an album full of smaller compositions that, for some reason, exists on my hard drive as a single MP3 file) and then had to work my way through the actual “Random 10”.

  1. Mike Oldfield – Platinum – I’m not sure what the individual tracks on this album are, because for some weird reason my version of it is one long MP3. Which kind of works, because most of Oldfield’s stuff is best played that way anyway. I’ve been working my way through his catalog lately, realizing there’s some of his stuff that I haven’t heard much before. After a single listen, I think this album is now among my favourites of his, and I’ve been playing it near religiously for a few days. I’m particularly fond of the way the whole thing wraps up with Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” (which, yes, I had to Google before I realized that it was a Gershwin piece – sue me).

  2. Madonna – I’ll Remember – Why is it that the few times Madonna comes up on my random playlist, it’s never one of the two or three songs that I actually kind of enjoy? Speaking of which, I need to track down a decent copy of Tori Amos performing “Live to Tell” which is, in fact, one of those Madonna songs that I actually kind of enjoy. I’m sure it can only be improved a thousand-fold in the hands of Ms. Amos.

  3. Jewel – Don’t – I’m not sure where this comes from, but I have the weirdest sense that listening to Jewel is some kind of bizarre cardinal sin, or something. Or mortal sin. Or…what’s that other kind. Vestigal sin? No, Vestigial. Thanks Google! Anyway, sin or not, this isn’t even among the few Jewel songs I like. Which…come to think of it, that’s two for two, isn’t it? Hm. Hope this doesn’t turn into a trend.

  4. The Beatles – Come Together – Ah, at last a good’un. I’m actually a pretty big fan of The Beatles, but prefer their more hippy-esque period, as opposed to their earlier, more-pop stuff. Of course, I think deep down I’m a bit of a hippy myself. I’ve always thought if there was any period in time that’d be amazing to have been a part of, the peace movement of the 60s and 70s would have been it for me. I simply find it indescribably moving that an entire generation managed to hold the unwavering belief that they really could make the world a better place. I suppose that’s why I enjoyed so much of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter Thompson, which reads to me, in some ways, like a requiem to that hope and optimism of the peace movement.

  5. The Beatles – Octopus’s Garden – More Beatles fun. Is this the first time I’ve had two tracks from the same artist appear right after the other? My memory is fuzzy about such trivial details, which is too bad, because trivia is so much fun. For the record, I really wouldn’t like to be under the sea. I’m not much of a swimmer, really.

  6. The Offspring – Lightning Rod – I heard a lot of The Offspring earlier in the week, while cleaning out some of MP3 files. I had a bunch of random, unsorted, unfiled stuff that was ultimately duplicated in my non-random, properly sorted and filed stuff, but had to double check it all to make sure I wasn’t actually deleting something I didn’t have a copy of somewhere. God, My MP3s are a mess. I need some kind of hyper-intelligent computer program to go in and clean them up for me.

  7. Elton John – Bennie and the Jets – A live version. This is usually a fun one to hear him perform live (and see him perform live too, apparently, based on some TV footage I’ve seen) because he tends to get a little weird on the piano solo. Not that Elton’s ever been accused of *not* getting a little weird from time to time. Or a lot weird. Or so incredibly weird that parts of your brain explode.

  8. Leonard Cohen – Undertow – Wow, I’ve downloaded a ton of Cohen stuff I’ve never listened to before, and I’m pretty sure this is among that stuff. You know, you just can’t go wrong with this man’s voice to capture a poignantly sad kind of mood. Which is a funny thing to point out, because it seems that he doesn’t do much in the way of singing on this particular song…

  9. John Lennon – It’s Real – Wow, two from the Beatles, and a Lennon. My hippy-esque nature is now in full bloom. I feel like hosting a peace march. Wow, and now it’s over already. John Lennon whistling, accompanied by an acoustic guitar. Well, that was interesting.

  10. Ani DiFranco – Face Up and Sing – Not my favourite of hers, but not a bad one by any stretch of the imagination. Hm, DiFranco and Jewel means there’s a certain portion of this week’s Random 10 going to Nouveaux Folk. Does count as mildly hippy-ish?

  11. The Smashing Pumpkins – Farewell and Goodnight – and with a title like that, could there possibly be a better song to close another round of the Random 10 with? Nope, I didn’t think so.

And so, on that note…farewell, and goodnight.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Try to believe

If we listen to the voices that were silent for so long
If you thought they went away, well you couldn't be more wrong
If I tell you there is something that we've lost but can
If I tell you there is hope, if we try to believe
You remember there's a dream that we long since put aside
With the toys that we discarded
And the tears we never cried
We could have had it once again, if we try baby try.
-- Oingo Boingo
Try to Believe

I've had these lines stuck in my head for the last few days. God knows why.

Rights and wrongs

Okay, so it's bad if you're in the wrong place at the right time, right? And it's also bad if you're in the right place at the wrong time. But, what happens if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time? Does that become some new form of good? Do double negatives exist in the realm of fate?