danestewart

life in the keys
of D, A & E


@danestewart
20101202 2324




Don't I know you?
Parable for the Disabled
OK, so let me get this straight. It's not a musical instrument?  For the last time, no! That part is made of plastic and will not chime, no matter what you hit it with.

What about a tuning fork?

 Good point, although I would still be correct in saying that the Triangle itself wouldn't be making the sound. You'd get nothing more than a dull click from that.

Hmm.

 Maybe you're getting confused by the current configuration, as it's not in a usable state. Imagine, if you will, that the Triangle is not hanging on the metal rod but is simply attached by the nylon strap that you see there.

Why do we need this connection?

 For support, basically. It's all there to ensure that the Triangle offers an adequate amount of support. What's your name anyway?

Professor Poppycock, at your service. And whom might you be?

 You can call me Al.

And you designed this?

 Not at all. Although it seems that I understand the object completely, and for whatever reason, you do not.

There is no reason to take that snide tone with me, young man. I didn't ask to be here.

 Fair enough. We are both staring up from the deck of the same boat, drifting aimlessly at sea.

So it would be attached to the mast?

 At the risk of descending further into utter farce, let me tell you more about the Triangle. Notice the divots that are equally spaced on the one side? Before you ask, I am sure that you could run a drumstick along them to make some sort of percussive sound.

Like the Fish?

 I don't know what that has to do with anything here.

The Fish is a favourite of mine, at least in my youth. It's traditionally used in music from South America. Or Mexico. Or both. I'm unsure of its origins, but I've played one before. It's a wooden, hollow Instrument with two finger holes underneath. You slide a small stick against the ridges of the sides, which signify the ribs, then finish with a thwack to the head or tail, depending on where you started. The Fish is merely an Instrument for those who can't make sense of anything else. It allows people to join in, to be a part of something. It's fun to play along.

 Actually, this is not at all like that. Those divots are finger grips.

Like the Fish.

 I thought you said that it had finger holes?

Yes, but you grip the holes using your thumb and index finger. The Fish has to resonate, or it's useless.

 I see.

No, I don't believe that you do. Please allow me to draw a simple diagram to explain the construction.

 I can't see any pen or paper here. To be honest, I don't even see you.

That's a relief. I figured that I was going mad. What did I tell you my name was again?

 Professor Poppycock.

I'm afraid that I haven't been completely honest with you.

 I figured. You don't seem the professor type, and Poppycock is an absolutely rubbish attempt at a name. It sounds like a bad Dickens character or a murder mystery guest.

If you must know, I do not think that well on my feet, especially when already in a state of confusion, but I can assure you that I am indeed a professor. Of Divinity. Puddledub.

 Professor Puddledub?

You seem surprised.

 Less Dickens, more Rowling.

Although I cannot draw upon your particular reference, you must understand that Puddledub is a very respectable Scottish surname from the Kingdom of Fife.

 So you teach theology and music?

Neither. Divinity, not theology.

 What's the difference?

First, I would like for you to tell me more about the finger grips on the Triangle.

 Well, as I explained, they are equally spaced and on the upper half of the bottom side. A person could grasp with either a left or right hand, or both. The shape is perfect for this.

Ingenious.

 I guess you could say that it's fit for purpose.

And what exactly would that be?

 To hold onto. To allow you to lift yourself up.

Why would one need to do something like that?

 All kinds of reasons, I guess. Too many to mention, but typically when you lack a certain strength or are in pain. To put yourself in a better, more comfortable position.

I believe that everything has become perfectly clear.

 So, what does a professor of Divinity teach?

20101202 ^up
 
Externally fixated, for a change
Postcard from Berlin

Ich bin ein Berliner.

Translation: I am a doughnut.




20101202 ^up
 
Wrinkles on the interface
Input/Output
When it comes to keeping in contact with people, the longer you leave it, the harder it is to re-establish a connection. As far as I'm concerned, we struggle to climb over the self-imposed Hurdle of Unwarranted Apology, which requires an introductory paragraph that is the literary equivalent of cautiously walking up to someone, head bowed in shame, with your tail between your legs.

"Please don't hate me. You've been on my mind. I just didn't know what to say."

To be honest, I'd say that people keep their distance until the time is right. Otherwise, it's not sincere. To everything there is a season... and some semblance of un-understandable reason. Turn, turn, fucking turn.

Generally, I find that the "unwarranted" part of the apology presents itself when you realise that the other party has either a) been just as bad as you about communication and are just as apologetic, or they have b) been completely oblivious to the fact that you are connected to them in an interesting enough way that would cause worry and/or concern.

We've surely been on both sides of this equation, which most often utilises > or < instead of =.

There are a vast number of people who come into our lives, over the years, for better or for worse. In sickness and in health. There are usually no vows involved, but the connection itself, however fleeting or tenuous, has a bigger impact than we expect. All of us live in a world of intersecting Venn diagrams, and it's crucial to understand that they intersect for a reason, even if we don't understand everything at the time. Work, sex, vice, convenience. These intersections occur because we were "there" at the same moment in our separately-lived lives.

It's an opportunity to share. To question. To disagree. To adapt.

I'd be lying if I said that I hadn't considered humanity in the same light as bacteria or viruses or cells or atoms. Or computer software. We all have interfaces for which we define the rules of connectivity. Sometimes it's easier to build up a resistance to external forces than to allow blind assimilation. Sometimes we let people in. Sometimes for the wrong reasons. Sometimes we don't care.

Sometimes we really, truly, do.

This hurdle-induced introductory paragraph has taken longer than expected.

20100515 ^up
 
Skull.  Eyeball.  Heart.
The Beatles - Long, Long, Long
Although I wouldn't say that George was my favourite Beatle, he managed to create the song of theirs that I love the most. That's quite a statement, for a band that wrote some of the best pop music of all time, but I stand by it.

It's been a long, long, long time. How could I ever have lost you when I loved you?

Today when I was watching Bloomberg, there was a quick news story about the latest versions of the Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchises, which are due to be released shortly (and in direct competition with one another). If you haven't already heard, Rock Band brings us The Beatles, which coincides with the release of their remastered back catalog. Guitar Hero 5 brings us "85 songs by 83 artists", including Johnny Cash, Nirvana, Queen, Sublime, T. Rex and Elliott Smith.

Anything about that roster seem odd? I'll give you a hint: dead guys. This normally wouldn't cause too much alarm, until I saw the ghastly computer-generated Kurt Cobain avatar singing along to "Smells Like Teen Spirit".

Woah.

It took a long, long, long time. Now I'm so happy I found you. How I love you.

At that moment, the 200 or so years since the introduction of the daguerreotype literally flashed before my eyes, as well as the future of both persons and personality. And I got scared. Let me explain. If we consider cave drawings all the way up to sculpture and portrait painting, this can be grouped into "interpretations", yet with the ability to capture a realistic image, we move into completely different territory. All of a sudden, we have true information at our disposal, and this is fundamental to the introduction of avatars that are more and more life-like, as long as there is enough data and adequate computational power.

Now I can see you, be you.

The best thing about science fiction is that is does a very good job of presenting us with the science fact of tomorrow. If we can think it, we can make it so. As much as I don't really want to fight Cobain's corner, I can't help but understand his viewpoint whilst alive. In a lot of ways, I think that he saw himself as a pop culture puppet once the fame of Nevermind properly set in. This is surely apparent from the artwork that he created for the cover of their low-key release of older/unheard songs, Incesticide. Maybe he wouldn't give a shit about becoming a cartoonish video game avatar these days, as he saw it coming anyway, but you must understand that this is not where it ends.

How can I ever misplace you? How I want you. How I love you. Your know that I need you. Oh, I love you.

Ben Folds wrote a very interesting song a few years ago called Jesusland, which points out that people use the idea of Jesus for their own benefit, even though he would surely have a lot to say about things said or done in his name. When someone is dead and gone, we are able to interpret their entire personalities. What they thought. What they wanted and would like to do.

Once a person has reached a level of awareness within the public psyche, that's it. There's a good chance that they'll live forever, but it won't be with their own mind, oh no. We have progressed deep into the realms of myth and storytelling, where anything goes. Although this idea has been around for generations, our technology is pushing it into new, fucked-up directions.

Within 20 years, maybe less, the concept of an avatar will progress to the point of complete immersion in our world, and the popular dead will once again be more or less "living" amongst us. You'll see.

So many tears I was searching, so many tears, I was wasting. Oh!

Just think about the Hollywood stars already being resurrected and manipulated by computers in order to sell us stuff. "The original, updated." Indeed.

Now I can see you, be you.

Being John Malkovich. Being Kurt Cobain. Being George Harrison.

A new definition for human being?

20090908 ^up
 
Sexually-charged home furnishings?
Dreaming In Yellow and Blue
Although it's surely an easy target that warrants only the most brief of non-complimentary commentary, I need to say a few words about the four-letter Swedish export that has surpassed A-B-B-A in the global pervasiveness stakes: IKEA.

Sure, we love/hate to hate/love it, but the very essence of the chain and its vast range of products now seem to have taken on a new life of their own, namely ours. The symbiosis is so complete that it's hard to imagine a world without a Billy bookcase. (Granted, everyone likes to pick on Billy, but it's simply because he's the only name that we can remember. Tjusig, anyone? I didn't think so.)

The sinister beauty, or the alluring but deadly siren-song, of IKEA is its ability to draw us into the comfortable labyrinth of home lifestyle possibility. Try-before-you-buy was never this good. It's cheap, it's easy, and it looks... well, acceptable enough. Have you ever tried to walk through the showroom maze by starting at the end? Not possible! Salmon returning to their spawing grounds are not welcome here! They will be policed by the other shoppers who know that traffic is only allowed to go one way, the correct one. You must always empty out into the food court, ready to feast on Swede-influenced cafeteria foodstuffs before gorging your trolley on the actual items for sale downstairs. And everyone knows that after you've made your final purchases, the salty, satisfying taste of completion comes from a mouthful of hotdog just before you walk out the door.

Anyway, I was there at the weekend, and truth be told, I had been looking forward to the trip. If nothing else, I hoped to find a decently priced mortar and pestle so that I could finally make a proper Thai green curry paste without resorting to the rather useless bowl/glass bottle combo. Lemongrass is some difficult shit to crush when you lack the proper tools.

Certain areas of the showroom present layout and furnishing ideas for 50 square meters or floor space, or 30 or probably even 5. One such setup definitely stood out from the others. On the outside wall was the image of a 30-something Oriental couple in black and white, smiling and embracing one another as if their lives depended on it. Apparently, this was their humble abode. The first thing I noticed, as I sat down on the livingroom sofa (a leather Hamra corner combination in mjuk dark brown), was that I was looking straight into the bathroom, which didn't seem to necessitate either a door or a wall. Heck, I was staring directly at the toilet, which would probably be awkward for most people, other than exibitionists, voyeurs and/or fecalphiliacs.

The next curiosity that drew my attention was that the toilet wasn't connected to any sort of plumbing. "Like, duh, why would it?", you may be asking. Things here are as they should be, since this is merely a genuine faux home, like the ones created in the middle of deserts for nuclear bomb detonation testing back in the '40s.

It suddenly dawned on me that most of my dreams seem to take place in an IKEA-esque, unplumbed world. My mind has created a rather useful defense mechanism to prevent me from emptying my bladder whilst sleeping. I swear, although the subconscious is fully aware of the need for relief, I always find myself dreaming about being stuck in rooms with unusable toilets. I frantically run back and forth between them, trying to find one that actually works, never with any luck. When the panic properly sets in, it triggers a physical response in my body that does indeed wake me up before I go-go.

I should point out that the couple's living quarters didn't include a kitchen, which might explain why there would be no need to expel any waste. Fair enough. Come to think of it, I can't recall ever eating or drinking in my dreams. And, surprisingly enough, I never, ever buy anything.

Maybe I'm simply content with browsing around upstairs in the fake life showroom, attempting to go with the flow...

Or conveniently stopping it, when necessary.

20090901 ^up
 
Putting the 'or' in 'story'
Passion Pit - To Kingdom Come
I bought a Bible last month, even though I wanted nothing more than to phone home and ask for my personal copy of the King James Version to be sent over. This copy, God only knows where it may be, was given to me during my first communion. I must have been about 7 years-old, but memory, as always, fails me. It's leather-bound, with my full name in gold gilt on the bottom right corner of the front cover. Roman numerals (II) and everything. If you turned to the back pages, you'd find a dictionary of relevant terms and places. A couple of pen-traced paper Roman coins would probably fall out, as that was what interested me at the time, other than reading Revelation over and over. It's always been the most rock & roll book of the Bible, completely entertaining to a young mind. Or one that reads too much into blatant symbolism and allegory.

That's a frosty way to speak, to tell me how to live next to your potpourri. All this talking pulls my teeth. I believed in you so you'd believe in me.

When The Beatles released their self-titled White Album in 1968, the song Revolution 9 compelled a young go-getter named Charles Manson to refer to the Bible and the ninth book of Revelation, leading him to believe that Liverpool's Finest were locusts preceding the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. So... Manson went on a killing spree. It must have made sense to him at the time. Let's cross-reference the scripture, as he did, starting at verse 8:

Women's hair? Check! Breastplates of iron? (What, you mean guitars?) Check! Sound of their wings like thunder? Well, they played music, if that's what you mean. I guess that's a check! Tails and stings like scorpions? Ummm... the guitars have leads that connect to amps. The amps can get pretty loud, almost painful. Scorpion-esque? Yes! Another check!

Don't get me started on how misinterpretations of the "Good Book" have caused countless misery across the world. It's too easy a target. I'm here to talk about why the Bible is the best self-help guide ever written and why it has more than a valid place in this world.

Seriously? Yes.

I cried out, "God!" You dared me in the dark. I felt a hush fall quietly from my spark, so now I hide in piles of princely orange peels. It feels the way you told me how it'd always feel.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote to an old friend of mine who is going through a very difficult time. When I knew her, as a teenager, she wasn't exactly the devoutly religious sort, but things have apparently changed. I wanted to know why she had embraced Christianity, and I questioned if this was due to the fact that she thought she was going to die. This was a completely serious question, and I didn't want it to be taken the wrong way. I've been questioning my faith since I was a child, as growing up in the Bible Belt has a significant influence on one's mindset, believe me.

My friend never responded to the email. I don't blame her. I probably came across as crass and insensitive, but that was not the intention.

As much as I want to believe in something, I can't help but turn against my upbringing and the Bible itself, particularly the Old Testament. It's full of absolute fairy tales. The story that makes me the most angry is the Tower of Babel, which tells us that people attempted to build a tower that reached heaven. When God wanted to put an end to it, he made it so that no one could communicate with one another, hence the reason why we have so many languages in the world today. What?! Are you fucking serious? It bothers me to the n-th degree that children are still taught that shit. It's pathetically naive.

Once I had a name to claim. I scraped on all the walls like an orthodox saint. I wish for the same old things that turned me inside out, keeling in such pain. It's all a game!

Granted, vast elements of the Old Testament are shared among Christians, Jews and Muslims. Christianity only comes into its own with the New Testament, stating that Jesus was indeed the one-and-only Son of God, brought unto the Earth to save us from our sins. Islamic scripture still sees him as a prophet, but that's about it. My forefathers chose him as our saviour, and I really want to understand why, with the hope that it isn't merely due to societal norms and the status quo. Jesus does seem like a pretty cool dude, you have to admit.

Me, I cried out, "God!" You dared me in the dark. I felt a hush fall quietly from my spark, so now I hide in piles of princely orange peels. It feels the way you told me how it'd always feel.

Here recently, other than reading the Gospel, I've been obsessed with the writings of Flannery O'Connor, a woman who grew up in the Deep South almost 100 years ago. Savannah, Georgia, to be exact. Although she has been grouped into the "Southern Gothic" style, I feel as though she was a maverick, an outsider stuck in the middle of it all. Her characters tell us a lot about how she thought, in response to the inbred religious conditioning surrounding her. As much as she might come across as a heretic to some, I'd like to think that I understand where she's coming from, and the basis of her social commentary is actually rooted in Biblical notions. In her first novel, Wise Blood, the main character (Hazel Motes) is a young man coming to terms with his Christian upbringing, going so far as to start the Church Without Christ, throwing away the concept of salvation, as well as Jesus himself. Yet he becomes a quasi-preacher and then a self-appointed blind saint in the process, literally dying in a ditch in order to make his peace with God. Makes absolute sense to me.

Never have I ever been clutching at your hair, to cure you of some sin, but that's the kind of state I'm in. Swimming in a pool of godly medicine.

Although I am loathe to embrace the Bible from a purely fundamentalist interpretation, I can't help but see the positive influence it has on other people in the world, and I refuse to take that away from those who need it.

In many ways, I might be considered jealous. Fair enough.

Come, come hear it calling me, yelling like if ever there was someone who could make things heavenly again! Feel alright!

Maybe it's just that I can't help but think that "God" wants to be queried, if nothing else but to ensure that we really, truly understand our lives.

Isn't that why we're here?

20090816
^up
 
Is there a 'meal problem'?
Solutions, etc.
If there's one word in the English language that illicits the most negative response in my mind, it has to be solution. Granted, it's an innocuous term, one that possesses the inherent connotation of positivity, and I don't blame the word itself. Oh no. It has a place, most definitely. My issue lies in its blatantly unnecessary over-usage in the business world.

The notion makes sense: If there is a problem, one can offer a solution. Fair enough.

Maybe I am more aware of the word because it has been rampant in the Information Techonology sphere for quite some time. As a software developer, I'm presented with problems, and I provide solutions. It's all in a day's work for a Data Monkey.

From a chemistry standpoint, a solution is a homogeneous mixture composed of two or more substances. A solute is dissolved in a solvent. In mathematics, a solution is nothing more than the value of variables. A solution is resolved in a logical representation.

Most people would admit that the term is overused these days, no doubt. Hell, I worked for a company with 'Solutions' in the title, and after that, for a firm in their 'Solution Delivery' team. On the road I've seen trucks and vans advertising everything from 'Fresh Produce Solutions' to 'Safe Height Solutions'.

Walking down the aisles in Tesco, the UK's largest supermarket chain, I came across a sign for, get this: Meal Solutions.

What the fucking fuck?!

At that point, I knew that things were absolutely out of control.

Then it hit me. We all have 'problems'. We're all looking for 'solutions'. The quicker the better. There's a good reason why the word has exploded in usage over the last several years.

We asked for it.

And we answered.

Although we might laugh at the stupidity of the past, it must be understood that people merely offered the best solution that was available and accepted at the time. And we're doing the same now. There is no final solution for X, as everything is in a constant state of flux. All that we can do/expect is simply 'good enough'. How can we blame the next generations for having short attention spans? Change is happening at a truly exponential rate. Tomorrow is a new world, and it overwrites today, just as Orwell predicted.

There are infinite solutions to these ever-changing variables. There are infinite substances being mixed together.

We're simply progressing. Or branching. Or increasing entropy.

There is no right answer because we don't fully understand the question.

Not yet.

20090723 ^up
 
See it like you mean it!
Reverse Abstraction
I've been thinking a lot about charicatures recently, in that their extreme exaggerations offer a very good indicator of how a person views the world around them. Most people might consider charicature to exist only as political cartoons within the opinion pages or possibly the less-than-flattering portraits that can be drawn by "artists" on the streets of any major holiday destination.

Do you have any particular physical qualities or abnormalities? Prepare to have them blown out of proportion for comedic effect! You're getting the chance to see how the world views you, albeit amplified. It's a humbling experience, without a doubt, as your innermost fears are most definitely realised.

Are my ears really that big? My head resembles a turnip! How can anyone love me when I look like this?

Here's the killer bit: We all create charicatures of everyone we know in our heads. It's not done out of malice, only necessity. This process merely assists us in interpreting and storing relevant information.

A few years ago, I started writing about an idea that I refer to as reverse abstraction, which can be defined as the method of breaking down an abstract concept into its constituents, in order to gain a better understanding of both the subject and the way in which the viewer's brain categorises data.

Consider a block of information, with a defined label, such as "chair". In my mind, a chair is a chair, in its most basic form. I understand this term when I see it on paper and hear it in language, although it tends to suffer from single-cube rationality unless there are additional descriptive adjectives that can break down this cube and provide interpretive texture that offsets the inherently simplified single-cube self-misrepresentation.

In effect, we are all programmed to take abstraction to its logical conclusion, for our general benefit. Could you imagine how difficult it would be to make sense of the world when a dining room chair and a desk chair were considered completely different objects, due mainly to how they look, feel, and work, as well as our understanding of their uses? We need the lowest common denominator. For sanity.

When I was a kid, I remember staring at a cereal box for so long that it began to look completely different, although none of its physical properties had changed. Suddenly, I could see the colour of the box, the font used in the product's name, the photograph of a sugar-coated, corn-based foodstuff suspended in a bowl of liquid that was no doubt white glue (which is a known trick of the trade).

I was never able to look at the box again the same way because I had broken it in my mind, into representative pieces. This was my first understanding of reverse abstraction, although it took me twenty years and numerous experiences to finally give it a name.

There is a form of relationship therapy that involves having a couple sit down and stare into each others' eyes for several minutes, in order to break down previous notions and provide a means of seeing the person as they truly are, internally as well as externally. From what I understand, this is actually a very effective method of intervention, and I can see why.

Charicatures are merely lazy, compact depictions.

If a total stranger on the street can do it to you, couldn't everyone?

Be careful.

You might not like how you "look" to others.

20090515 ^up
 
Children are not edible.
Growth
There was a time in the recent past when I would tell you that I didn't have any hobbies, but I guess things have changed. Nowadays, I apparently embrace horticulture, albeit on a small scale. I've been growing various herbs for a few weeks and have recently branched out to some vegetables. If you're anything like me, you're used to buying your greens wrapped in plastic. They're nothing more than cheap commodities, for my consumption. In a global marketplace, there is no such thing as "seasonal veg", and all of a sudden places like Israel and even Thailand don't seem that far away.

The Northern and Southern hemispheres do a good job of being the reversable yin and yang of seasons. Flights only take a few hours, right? The concepts of winter and summer merely depend on your latitude at any given time.

When I had land at my disposal, I didn't give a fucking shit. Now that I consider soil in terms of inches on my windowsill rather than acres, I've turned down the volume and started listening. Now that I consider planting with the intention of reaping...

I've been doing a lot of reconsidering.

Any plant than intends to reach the flowering stage needs to ensure that there is enough room for the vast network of roots that will be necessary.

The thing about plants that really gets me is that they all look the same at the point shortly after germination. We could say the same about animals, with regards to the embryo, which is in just as much need of disambiguation. In the early stages, there's not much of a visible difference between a piglet and a baby human.

Of course it makes sense.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Remember me to one who lives there. She once was a true love of mine.

After germination comes the seedling. The embryonic leaves of dicotyledons, as their name implies, start out with two distinct leaves on a single plant.

And often they look a lot like two hearts.

Of course it makes sense.

20090512 ^up
 
Faith in Humanity?
Postcard from Budapest
I would say that at least 50% of my time here had typically been spent submerged in hot, smelly, sulfur-infused water of the numerous thermal baths scattered around the city centre. This was the main reason I had come to visit, and I definitely took advantage of what was on offer.

(I'd recommend that others do the same. The Hungarian forint is fucked at the moment, around 324 to the pound, so get in there, pronto.)

Nevertheless, I had decided to go out and visit the sites that didn't cause my fingertips to go pruney. Checking through my "Top 10 Budapest" guidebook (the only ones I tend to buy these days, as they're small and have lots of photos and maps, rather than the Lonely Planet guides that have too many words for me to even consider taking the time to read), I knew that I had to visit St. Stephen's Basicilica. I had already walked the length of Vaci Utca, having lunch at the very Westerinised Burger King, chosen simply because it was cheap and cheerful, not to mention what I knew and enjoyed. My evenings were spent paying far too much for Eastern European cuisine in the expensive Buda side of town, near my hotel, so I didn't mind slumming it at lunchtime.

There's something odd about visiting a church as part of a crowd that is taking photographs and talking incessantly only about architecture. In this age, we can separate design and workmanship from the grandioseness-inspired, jaw-dropping notion that was surely the original intention of what we are presented with. Glory to God, in the highest! Sure.

"The neoclassical style is so similar to St Paul's Cathedral in London, don't you think?"

"Stand there. I'll take a photo upwards to get that nice dome in the background. Smile!"

"The light in here sucks. Hold on. I need to turn on the flash."

As I eventually found myself near the main altar, containing a life-sized marble statue of St. Stephen, I noticed an older man and woman sitting on the frontmost seats, heads bowed. I took solace in their reverence, amidst the distasteful hustle and bustle all around us. As I gingerly sat down beside them, the foot of my chair squeaked loudly against the stone floor, and I couldn't help but wince in complete embarrassment, my facial expression almost as if in physical pain. I tilted my head downwards and attempted to say a prayer, as it felt like the right thing to do at the time.

Although it wasn't my intention, I couldn't help but overhear the conversation between the devoutly religious couple beside me.

"That's nice."

"Oh no, your eyes are closed."

"We should take that one again, earlier in the day."

The couple weren't bowed in prayer. They were looking through their holiday snaps via the little screen on the back of their digital camera.

I got up and walked away.

Honestly, I think I've been walking ever since.

20090406 ^up
 
Sex Bible?  Riiight.
ballboy - I don't have time to stand here with you fighting about the size of my dick
Sex is natural. Sex is good. Not everybody does it, but everybody should. Sex is natural. Sex is fun. Sex is best when it's one on one...

Forget the hippies from the Summer of Love, my generation was the first to be constantly bombarded from a young age by in-your-face sexual references that went beyond high-brow, harmless, Benny Hill-esque innuendo and double entendres into completely unknown territories. I consider myself to have been sexualised since at least 5 years-old (I can give proper reference to this), and things merely picked up momentum from there. Although I put this early development down to an enhanced intellect and a holistic understanding of the world around me (of course), I was witness to the period when the floodgates truly opened to the idea that "sex sells".

I don't have time to stand here with you, fighting about the size of my dick. I've got a meeting to get to and a gun to pick up first.

Pornography has a lot to answer for, which is why Channel 4 here in the UK has commissioned a television programme that seeks to educate teenagers about the reality of sex and male/female bodies. I dread to think what kids these days think, thanks to the all-pervasive internet. Fake tits and giant cocks and Brazillian waxes all around! The premise is simple: accept that teenagers have been blinkered by internet porn so try to present real people and real bodies to them in order to alleviate personal fears and achieve some form of actual education on the matter, for the better.

This would never, EVER happen in America. Full-frontal nudity on network television?! Egads! We'd rather show someone being blown to pieces by an AK-47 in the Friday night edited (for verbal profanity) 9 o'clock war film than to present humanity in its naked state. Were we to do the latter, it would be against God's will! Adam, cover yourself with that fig leaf, now! There is no penis. There is no vagina. However, there is a grenade. And a dollar bill. And an apple pie!

And I don't have time to stand in the rain, fighting about all the same things again. If I don't leave now, then I'll be too late to ever get back. And in 24 hours, I've lived a hundred lives. I've shot one man dead and watched another two die. And it's touch and go if I should run or hide. And it's touch and go if I can live through the night.

I commend this programme, not only for its frank and open discussion about important issues but also for the fact that it even exists. Great Britain has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Western Europe.

And is second only, in the world, to the United States of America.

Where education is truly lacking.

Because no one wants to say a fucking word.

Literally.

Well I've got the money, and I've got the truck, but it's too close to call whether I've got the luck, but I'm too far in to even dream of getting back out.

In the course of writing this article, I don't know if I am more upset about the general lack of "real" sex education in schools or the fact that the vast majority of internet pornography (and Western, capitalistic society in general) is presenting an idealised, plasticised idea of sex. Moreso the latter, to be perfectly honest. Traditonal schools are dead and/or dying. The internet is now the new informant. I wouldn't dare use the word "teacher", as this idea has lost all meaning. The Information Age will have a considerable and unforeseen impact on the current and subsequent generations, and there is nothing that can be done to stop this from happening.

And I wish all the fighting had taken less time. I could have been in and out. We could have laughed through the night, but sometimes days can be seconds and seconds can be your whole life.

Don't get me wrong, I have embraced pornography on the interweb since its inception, even when I was involved in 2400-baud-modem-dial-up bullentin boards when I was a pre-teen in the early 90's, when the graphics were neither VGA quality nor even resembling photo-realism is any sense. Now THAT is desperate. ANSI character porn. However, I did seek it out. And what I found then was still idealised, at best.

It's not the bullet that causes the pain. It's the hole that it leaves when it comes out again. And the blood in the sunshine disappears just like the rain.

The best thing about interweb porn these days is that it's completely open to personal tastes, which to me moves back towards a truly human ideology, rather than the plasticised, Playboy, Sun Page 3 fake-bodied concept presented in magazines and television. Granted, I do not accept any form of pornography that is immoral, illegal or degrades another human being. However, I am open to the idea that there are countless people in the world, most of which are different from one another in one way or another.

And I'm dying for breathing. I'm blind in one eye, but here's what I choose to take me into the night:

The best thing that is going to happen from the new generation is to put everyone on a level playing field, as pre-perceived "deviance" will be downgraded to a non-conceptualised acceptance of reality. I am completely open to the idea that people will follow their inner instinct, from which everyone will benefit. Maybe I'm being overly-Romanticised, but I think that there is a person for everyone in this world, and all one needs to do is find their perfect partner.

You beautiful and drunk and singing softly to yourself.

I never said it was going to be easy, but it will happen.

You beautiful and drunk and singing softly to yourself.

I hope that Gordon doesn't mind me stealing his song like this. Besides, he's a teacher.

20090401 ^up
 
In no way associated with Xtina.
Beirut - Elephant Gun
I was in Fopp the other day, on Byres Road, with the intention of picking up the latest Beirut album. I realised that I didn't have their first release, Gulag Orkestar, so I bought that instead. As luck would have it, the Lon Gisland EP is now included as a bonus disc, so this pleased me to no end. Sometimes I'm a bit late to catch the train that constantly departs to The Land of Good Music, and this is yet another such occasion.

But... what the heck?! Has convenient compact disc packaging presented me with my current favourite song? Why, yes. Yes it has.

I don't know about you, but I've always had a fear of "world music" for as long as I can remember. It's in-built. No one ever told me that it was a deplorable musical genre, but for some reason I just knew it. The worst perpetrator is surely Paul Simon. One day he's writing great pop/folk songs and mere decades later, BAM!, he's discovered African music and wants to shove a rock-hard pop cock right up it. No thanks. There's also talk that Sting tried to go down this route, but I'd say that he simply went limp and decided to make middle-of-the-road-soft-rock-radio fodder. Fuck you, Sting. Tantric style.

So, you can understand my disinterest in anything flying under this banner, outside of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Don't get me wrong. Their shit is tight. And everyone knows it. David Byrne was probably the only decent cross-over artist to pull it off, but he can usually do no wrong. Plus, he hated the use of the term and wrote an editorial in The New York Times entitled I Hate World Music. It's been a catch-all for all non-Western music for quite some time, which is surely misrepresentative.

If I was young, I'd flee this town. I'd bury my dreams underground. As did I, we drink to die, we drink tonight.

Enter Zach Condon, some white, middle class, American kid from New Mexico. Through his travels, he picks up on the vibe of traditional European folk music and emulates it, to maximum benefit. All of a sudden, world music doesn't seem so bad. To the contrary, it feels right.

Far from home, elephant guns. Let's take them down, one by one. We'll lay it down. It's not been found, it's not around.

Let's go back in time about 150 years or so to rich aristocrats on holiday in far-flung lands, mixing things up by wanting to witness and embrace the unfamiliar, although bringing their conveniences with them. The unknown mercenaries have been sent in advance, clearing the way, setting the scene for the inescapable hegemony that was yet to come. But the trophies are to be claimed. First and foremost.

When I was a kid, I used to stand at the bathroom sink and mix isopropyl alcohol with peroxide, just to watch them fight. Eventually, the solution would reach homeostatis, so I'd just drain the sink and start again. Like Caesar sending out a new batch of gladiators for his amusement. Kill or be killed. Or just fuse into one. A single state. Truly united.

At the end of the day, when you mix all of the colours in the rainbow, you simply end up with brown.

Let the seasons begin! It rolls right on! Let the seasons begin! Take the big king down!

The first time I watched this video, I got chills. It is probably the best representation of what it means to be human that I've come across in a very long time. It's a celebration of life. Both a wedding dance and a funeral dirge. The ecstasy and the tragedy, both of which are fleeting and ephemeral, although horribly pungent and remembered in full up until our dying day. It's a song for the world, using the music of the world. If you don't believe me, check out the YouTube comments in various languages from all the people in love with the song because it struck the right chord.

And it rips through the silence of our camp, at night. And it rips through the night.

There is a long alley perpendicular to Gordon Street in Glasgow, just beside the Somerfield. The alley leads only to a dingy dead end. However, some guerilla horticulturists have planted flowers in the exposed dirt and chained a shopping trolley filled with soil and grass to a drain pipe.

And it rips through the silence. All that is left is all that I hide.

Rather than being greeted with a wall of nothing at the end, there's a sign stating You Are Beautiful.

I'd like to think that's what life's about.

For all of us.

20090316 ^up
 
I misspell, therefore I am.
Bright Eyes - The City Has Sex
OK, I'll put my hands up. Conor Oberst is the best lyricist of this generation. Whenever I feel the need to write something, not only do I consider the song for its relevance, I also analyse and critique the lyrics. Moreso. It's easy enough to extrapolate from a song title and the general feel of a song, but fuck me, the lyrics make the song. Mr Oberst does it better than anyone. Anyone. On this planet. Right now.

The city has sex with itself, I suppose, as the concrete collides, while the scenery grows. And the lonely, once bandaged, lay fully exposed, having undressed their wounds for each other.

I often think that most people are too aware of our surroundings to actually feel the need to comment. This merely stems from the disillusion that occurs when we are too busy expecting it to question what 'it' is. The present can change so quickly that we find ourselves accepting before we truly understand what's going on.

We're simply too busy separating ourselves from those who don't get it.

There is a small walkway/subway in the west of Edinburgh, in between Fountainbridge and Dalry Road. The cement walls contain various forms of graffiti, some of which follow the accepted forms of English spelling and grammar. Some don't. Although I'd like to think that there is someone out there clever enough to misspell on purpose, to make a point, it's not that simple. People are idiots, and I just need to accept it. That doesn't mean that I can't appreciate stupidity, as it's nothing but a mirror.

And there's a boy in a basement with a four-track machine. He's been strumming and screaming all night, down there. The tape hiss will cover the words that he sings. They say it's better to bury your sadness in a graveyard or garden that waits for the spring to awake from its sleep and burst into green.

Although I didn't have a basement, I had a closet where I would record songs on my four-track, many moons ago. Instead of a pop filter, I typically used a pair of boxer shorts in front of the microphone. They always kept the hard P's at bay. Damn them. Screaming at underwear isn't as mad as it sounds. Isn't it better to soften the blow?

Well I've cried, and you'd think I'd be better for it, but the sadness just sleeps, and it stays in my spine for the rest of my life.

Maybe this says a bit too much about my fears, but the first time I heard this song, I automatically thought about the herpes virus and how it lies dormant in the spine. There's a good chance that this was intended.

And I've learned, and you'd think I'd be something more now, but it just goes to show it is not what you know, it is what you were thinking at the time.

What kills me about Mr Oberst is that he was incredibly young when he wrote this particular song. That level of observation is unwarranted at that age (18 years old); an appreciation of sex and intimacy and, especially, better judgement.

This feeling's familiar, I've been here before. In a kitchen this quiet I waited for a sign or just something that might reassure me of anything close to meaning or motion (with a reason to move).

A reason to move. Yes, therein lies this issue. Laziness is rampant and self-continuous. From an outside perspective, when do we know when we're just flailing? Appropriating the position of a drawn-out swan song?

I need something I want to be close to. And I scream, but I still don't know why I do it, because the sound never stays, it just swells and decays, so what is the point? Why try to fight what is now so certain?

Not only is it coming, it is already here! The fight cannot begin, much less persist, without a note of reckoning, but it all depends on the accepting recipient. One cannot accept that without being aware of their equal levels of transience and trancendence.

The truth is all that I am is a passing event that will be forgotten.

I need to get out of here for a while, in order to gain some form of perspective. C'est bon. Je sais plus de le monde comprende.

20090309 ^up
 
A face in the crowd.
Bright Eyes & Britt Daniel - Southern State
So, yeah. I've had a lot of spare time on my hands so far in 2009. For once in my life, I can honestly say that I now suffer from insomnia, which is significant for someone who is more accustomed to expressing a mild form of narcolepsy, falling asleep at any given stationary opportunity. It's a welcome change, albeit an equally annoying one.

They say that idle hands are the Devil's tools, but if that's the case, I've yet to carry out anything of note. Maybe his tools are meant to be rusty and useless. Maybe therein lies the tragedy. And the comedy.

Well, the songs you sung spiralled and hung round like echoes or ripples on a pond. So you circled the globe. Spent a year on the road, without ever going home more than a couple of days, then you leave right away. Run to a girl you barely know, but you like how she sings, and you can't help but think that there's something that she knows and could teach you.

Without a constant barrage of necessity, in the business sense, sitting in front of a computer, shifting ones and zeroes, my mind is free to wander as it sees fit. When the act of creation dissipates, the yearning for learning takes hold. I've learned a little something from everyone I've met, but my brain works like a sponge. It soaks up enough until it's full, then I can't help but wring it dry and start all over again. Right now, I'm urgently craving new input, much the same as Johnny 5 from Short Circuit.

"No disassemble!" Not yet, at least. I still need to dance with Ally Sheedy.

Well, you're sleeping in that Southern state where the bars are filled with people you can't hate, but try as you try, you still can't relate to them. You drink that whiskey down as they ask you, "Are you who you say you are?"

Trying to recreate oneself is more difficult than I first considered. The thirst for input is unquenchable. I've been buying books and reading internet-sourced information on various subjects, learning just enough to know that I don't want to learn any more of a given topic. So I jump and jump and jump. Fiction. Non-fiction. The lines are getting blurry. There's a bit of both in each.

"The fact that we can't tell makes us like you even more."

They also say that a jack of all trades is a master of none. Fair enough. But what if I don't want to be a specialist in one given area? What if I don't fit into the Henry Ford assembly line, part of the Division of Labour that made such sense to Adam Smith back in 1776 as he wrote The Wealth of Nations?

What should a cog do when it recognises its function? Downplay? Differentiate? Accept?

So you're trying again or just visiting friends, one had just had his heart broke. For the first time in his life he realized there are times when you can't make it alone.

Maybe the cog should understand that it is in good company, as the world is full of nothing but cogs, all turning one machine or another. Some cogs are lucky enough to be a part of numerous clockworks, all pushing time forward. The cycle is understood and necessary. Sponge and spring. Alpha and Omega. All at the same time, forever.

But now you're giving advice, as if you had the right to use a word like "love". No, no, it's a negotiable term. What gets said's not what's heard. So it's different then for everyone.

Sometimes I do wish I lived the simple life, on a farm "back home" in South Carolina, but I'd just be running away from the life I know now. My concept of time would change from days to seasons, associating phases of the moon with crops and the breeding of cows. With less distraction, the years would probably pass much quicker than expected, but the nights would last longer, and I would definitely self-medicate with alcohol, out of boredom. I'd end up just like my forefathers, drunk, letting time slip by. Then again, maybe I don't necessarily need to move back for that.

But you've been hanging around that college town with your new life, your new lover you found, and you're keeping her up at night, bringing her down. She'll watch you drink yourself to death but won't ask you, "Is this really what you want?"

No, it's not. Honest.

Or are you just sticking with it now 'cause it's all you got?

Right now, maybe, but this too will pass. I'm getting a bit bored of this boredom, believe me. Sometime very soon, I'm sure you'll hear me proudly state:

Number 5 is ALIVE!

God, I hope so.

20090217 ^up
 
Time to get constant!
The Second Hand Marching Band - Don't
There is something you should know. Don't go outside in the rain and the snow. There is no reward. We try to get somewhere that we cannot. Don't go outside in the rain and the snow.

Precipitation is an interesting thing. It follows a well-defined cycle, from source back to source, through various means. It all depends on the presence of heat.

Water is a constant.

Uisge beatha.

You're lost and feeling the pinch of the frost.

Once again, Glasgow is coated in a soft blanket of snow, and baby, it's cold outside. I'm sitting here watching the latest episode of Lost, comtemplating the taut string that is time. I used to consider the same thing without the need of Hollywood's influence, but we all forget the basics from time to time.

Don't feel afraid of the things you have found.

A few years ago, through one of the numerous mathematical texts I've acquired, I read about the Aymara people from the Andes, a society that differentiates themselves from us by seeing the past as physically in front of them, with the future to their backs. This makes a lot of sense to me, as we only really know the past from our own perspective, from what we've seen and learned. The future is an unknown.

Imagine that you lived your life with a pole extruding from your chest, on which you were balanced. As time passed, the pole grew in length. The recent past was in sight and could be easily recalled from memory, although the distant past was, well, distant. Out of sight. Lacking definition. You can't see the future, although your vision in the present is likely to allow up to 180 degrees, so you have a good idea of where you're heading. But you're effectively still blind.

I always believed the time was right, but I had no confirmation. Would you care, too? What'd you say to me? We are both alone, without.

If the pole was attached to my back, then I could face and foresee the future. I would simply wait to embrace it.

Which ideology is more appropriate?

I guess it depends on how well you think you can manipulate the future.

There is something you should know. Don't go outside in the rain and the snow. There is no reward. We try to get somewhere that we cannot. Don't go outside in the rain and the snow.

Without going into too much detail, organic life is not possible without the presence of water. It has a polar nature, to our benefit. It is a main constituent of our bodies.

It has more than one useful form.

No matter what your ideology, I'd like to think that the aforementioned pole is made of water. Of course I'm speaking in purely metaphysicial sense, but I would like to draw together two of the constants of nature as we know it.

Water is a conduit, like time. It don't give a fuck.

But I do, and I sure as hell want to take advantage of the 180 degrees of perception at my disposal.

Fifty percent is surely more than enough to get by.

20090209 ^up
 
Beach Animals or Animal Boys?
Animal Collective - Lion in a Coma
For whatever reason, I have refrained from listening to the seminal album by the Beach Boys, Pet Sounds, all of my life. For a number of years, I have always considered this to be the Holy Grail of pop music, and I've never thought I was "ready" to embrace the album in all of its glory. C'mon, this is the album that Brian Wilson went crazy making, after the Beatles brought out Rubber Soul and blew his mind. From what I understand, the release of Revolver pushed him over the edge, as he couldn't match it, and he was never the same again.

Respect.

This wilderness up in my head, this wilderness up in my head, this wilderness needs to get right out of my clothes and get into my bedroom!

I finally bought Pet Sounds about a month ago, and you know what? It don't impress me much. Don't get me wrong, it's a masterpiece, but the Cup o' Christ it ain't. Without a doubt, I should be listening with the ears of someone who lived in 1966, as it was truly remarkable for the time. However, I just can't do it. Yes, it was other-worldly way back when, but music has been so incredibly transformed since then that I can't even begin to rate it 40+ years in retrospect.

So, what if the Beach Boys existed in 2009? They'd sound a helluva lot like Animal Collective. Their new album, Merriweather Post Pavillion is truly amazing. I can't recall the last time that I heard music that was so beautifully disturbing and relevant.

Is there no reason it can be the way it was musically? My three best friends so casually just letting go so joyfully, and if I let my spirit thrive, I'll always be happy or down. Is it just trying to divide? It makes me think my dearest things are not what they're supposed to be. I trick myself when it gets hard. I've got to keep up, oh my god, and hope that I will not be wrong and keep my faith in sound and song.

I am entertained. I am challenged. I am unaware of the time signature... and this pleases me.

Sometimes the sun will shine. Yes, I am just feelin' fine. Sometimes I'm not aware where I am or what I care. Sometimes I'm well-to-do, but I don't know what to do. Sometimes I don't agree with my thoughts on being free.

Here lately, I've been listening to this album whilst falling asleep, as I appreciate the soothing unfamiliarity. It tickles my brain.

Please don't leave me, things that feel good! I've been lucky trying to feel good!

Indeed.

By the way, My Girls gets my vote as song of the year.

Sorry, Mr Wilson. You've been usurped.

Although it took a considerable amount of time.

20090204 ^up
 
All aboard the citizenship!
of Montreal - For Our Elegant Caste
"This is the price and the promise of citizenship."

So... what is the price? Apparently, just 33 pounds and 28 pence!

Something tells me that this wasn't exactly what President Obama meant in his inaugural address. (Side note: As much as I really do like the guy and have a surprising amount of blind faith in him and what he can do for America, I still have trouble saying/writing "President Obama". Maybe this says a bit too much about how my mind was twisted at a young age, but the only word that sounds correct after President is Reagan. I digress.)

Two weeks ago, I finally took the Life in the UK test, which is now a pre-requisite when applying for British nationalisation. As I'm entering my 12th year here, I figured it was a good idea to finally get this sorted. After all this time, I'm surely leaning more towards feeling Scottish than American. Or am I?

Where do my loyalties lie? With whom do I most identify? Where is home?

We can do it softcore, if you want, but you should know I take it both ways.

I guess I'm stuck within the intersection of two sets in a Venn diagram, rather happily, to be honest. Which way do the scales tip? Maybe I prefer to attempt striking a perfect balance, shifting back and forth, jumping in and out, as I see fit, when it best suits the occasion. Wax on. Wax off. Crane technique.

We can do it softcore, if you want, but you should know that I go both ways.

The only problem with not choosing sides is, well, not choosing sides. People can sense indecision, and there is definitely a deep-rooted "with us or against us" mentality that is difficult is shake. No one really likes those who ride the fence, particularly when decisions need to be made or alliances need to be understood. Besides, riding a fence isn't exactly comfortable, from my experience. Especially when it's barbed wire.

If you stand in the middle of the road, you're surely going to get hit by an oncoming car, unless the road is actually two lanes going in opposite directions. That gives you the opportunity to walk safely between the streams of traffic for as long as you want, watching and waiting for just the right moment to choose which side will be the one to run you down.

Then I was wrapped in discourse with the magazine reader. The mutual conclusion was I'm not worth knowing because I'm probably dead. So I'm exposed, but no solution. Lalalalalala! Lalalalalala!

Wait a minute, I don't think I'm talking about citizenship anymore.

20090129 ^up
 
Music for the masses.
The Apples In Stereo - Energy
Congratulations. We've made it to another year. What will 2009 bring us? Better yet, what will we bring to 2009?

And the world is made of energy. And the world is electricity. And the world is made of energy. And there's a light inside of you. And there's a light inside of me.

I got an email from The Apples In Stereo this week. They wanted to tell me that this song was now being used in a new Pepsi ad campaign.

Was I pleased? Yes. And no. They surely made some money out of it, but I felt a bit... dirty about the whole thing.

This isn't too bad at all for a throwaway pop song. Kudos. However, for a severely clever band who create songs of a non-Pythagorean nature and KNOW what this means, I can't help but sit on the fence.

Maybe I'm just worried about how quickly anyone would sell their soul for a quick buck. Then again, the band were signed by Elijah Wood, which surely opened a lot of doors. Hell, he even directed this video.

I like this band, I like Elijah, and fuck me, I like Pepsi. I even like that they like each other! As much as the staunch anti-establishment ethos runs through my veins, all of this is acceptable and, dare I say, welcome. It's surely a means to an end. I hope.

This is the new year, and, once again... I don't feel any different.

It's gonna be alright!

We're gonna see sunlight!

Ah huh, yeah!


20090103 ^up
 
People buy this shit.
Doug Martsch - Cracked and Crazed
I try to be graceful, you only want more. I try to be peaceful, you only want war. I try to be calm, but you stir up such hate. I offer my palm, but you've closed all the gates.

There's a relatively recent "old saying" that for every success story there are 100/1000/1000000/n failures. As we live in a celebrity-obsessed culture, it gives the false impression that everyone can be famous, if only for the fifteen minutes that Warhol envisaged over 40 years ago. The masses are fickle. The masses are spoon-fed a perpetual present, and they forget to remember.

I try to stand up, you're pushing me down. I fill up the cup, you throw it to the ground. I'm trying to live, to act for your sake. I'm trying to give, but you only take.

Although I used to believe that the biggest problem with Western society was its laziness, I have come to realise that this merely stems from a fear of failure. Is to be complacent to be comfortable? Or accepting one's lot in life? Or just one step closer to dead?

Oh! Take my days, my months, my years. Take my blood, my sweat, my tears. But not my heart.

Whilst searching for Built to Spill/Doug Martsch-related material on the interweb, I happened across this rather beautiful-sounding pop song. From what I can gather, a man by the name of Devon Reed was producing a film entitled The Bigtop, and although it has never come to fruition, a soundtrack was released last year.

I've seen leaves in a gust and torches combust, jackles and wolves in the raw. Waves breaking fierce and daggers that pierce; I've stood and I've faced them all. I've seen gears that could crush and guysers that gush, life you could buy with the bones. Soldiers that march and deserts that parch, with them all I have taken my chance.

So, what happened to the film? I can't find any other information, and it's not listed on IMDB, which surely means that it's been shelved indefinitely. Apparently, The Bigtop was meant to be a musical, and Devon Reed wrote all of the songs, although they were performed by a strange mixture of no-names and indie-rock elite, such as Damien Jurado, Matthew Sweet and Doug Martsch. WTF?!

But you, you're the only one who beat me down. Yes you, you're the only one who stole my crown. So you, you're the only one I set to free. And you, you're the only one who made me weep.

There is no current web presence for Mr. Reed, and all that remains is a blog that hasn't been updated in over a year and a half. (With that said, I would recommend that people read his Defcon 5 short story from the bottom up.) What happened? Is he dead? Did he fail as a film-maker, have a nervous breakdown and then decide to drop off the face of the Earth? Who knows. I'm scared shitless of failing at the smallest of things, so I can't even imagine what it must feel like to put my heart, soul and money into something that falls apart on a grand scale. Not everyone can be Orson Welles or Vincent Gallo in their first outing, although I can more than appreciate the drive and determination required to even attempt such a thing.

You have left me cracked and crazed, and you did it with love. (Oh, that's right!) Oh, you did it with love. (One more time!) Oh, you did it with love.

If we were honest with ourselves, we only really do things in life that we love, although 'love' does have many guises. Devon Reed, if you're out there, please do get in touch via the address above.

I'd like for us to go for a pint sometime. You can tell me how it is.

Hey, at least you tried.

20081228 ^up
 
Crouching Tingle, Hidden Agenda
Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland
Still single at 35, Tingle sets off on a search for happiness!

Believe it or not, what you see above is the tagline for this Nintendo DS game, as written in soft pastel-coloured letters on the back of the box. Seriously.

Let me break this down: Your character is a depressed middle-aged man, unable to find true love and happiness via the sanctity of marriage/children, who has opted to embrace a life of fantasy and monetary endeavours in order to provide some form of excitement and self-fulfillment. Your money is, literally, your life(meter). AND you become a green-clothed fairy with a prominent case of rhinophyma, a major sign of prolonged alcoholism.

So, is Tingle an innocent children's character or a miserable, super-capitalistic, hard-drinking, homosexual stereotype?

You decide!

I happened upon this gem a couple of weeks ago and stood in disbelief for about 20 minutes. Picking it up. Putting it down. Picking it up again. I was both tickled and horrified, yet considerably intrigued. In the end, I decided that a mere photograph would suffice. I was wrong. Oh so wrong.

Last weekend, I went back to the shop to lay claim on Tingle. Alas, he was gone.

The most disturbing thing of all is that on Christmas morning, a child will awaken somewhere in Glasgow to find this menacing creature waiting for them, ready to pounce on their unsuspecting, young mind. Never before has a game warranted an 18+ rating as much as this surely does.

I need to play it.

20081222 ^up
 
It is finished?
Fallout 3
I like shooting zombies.

As much as I detest wasting my life playing stupid video games, I have spent quite a few hours fucking about with Resident Evil 4 during the last year. Truth be told, I enjoyed it. I still do.

Two weeks ago, I picked up Fallout 3, which puts me in the position of a guy who has basically crawled out of a hole in the ground, where I've spent my entire life in a protective shell of friends/family, to find the surface world completely destroyed. Toxic. Deadly. Unknown.

The best thing about this game is that, although there is an "end", some form of achievement, you can be any type of person you want to reach that end. You can kill every moving thing in your sight. You can sneak around and completely avoid contact. You can communicate with people and try to make the best of a bad situation. You can also use people for your own means.

It's basically... life as we know it.

I'm rubbish at video games. Seriously. I think things through far too much. And I die. Repeatedly. In order to try out various scenarios. I save the game before bad things are likely to happen... because I want to try again when things turn for the worse. There's surely some element of perfectionism in there somewhere, but you have to admit, it's incredibly logical.

Wouldn't you?

Aren't you?

Granted, I'm not shooting zombies now, but I am more accepting to the idea of dehumanising those people I do not understand. Consider the current scene in Iraq or Afghantistan. Is there a military answer? If I were placed in either situation, would I kill and ask questions later? Probably. My life is more important than anyone's, isn't it? Can you appreciate that notion?

Of course I'm studying the current budget figures, in terms of dropping VAT to 15%, and I spend far too much time watching Bloomberg Television. It's just one of those things. Why not obsess about money? It makes the world go 'round. Some people say the same thing about love, and they're right. Both are right.

All of this makes me want to grow a beard. In disgust and in disinterest. In protest. To say that you know that I know. I'm just too aware of that which makes the "what".

Truth and reconciliation. There's more than can be said here.

It is finished. For now.

20081126 ^up
 
Truly enlightened!
Only Son - Long Live the Future
Scotland Street Public School was designed by the celebrated architect/artist, Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928), between 1903-06 for the School Board of Glasgow. When the school opened in the Kingston area on the 15th August 1906, it served a growing population employed by the shipbuilding industry and engineering works in and around the River Clyde, whose families lived in the vast number of tenement flats in the nearby area.

By the 1970's, the decline in the shipping industry and the introduction of a new motorway had led to the destruction of complete neighbourhoods, including Kingston. All in the name of progress. This school was effectively severed from reality, and as one could imagine, it was shut down in 1979. Today it functions as an education museum, allowing people to see how students have been taught over various times during the last 100 years. Even now, it's in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful, austere and rather irrelevant.

Long live the wide open future, right? Drew a picture of this place, just to have it to erase.

If I ever accomplish anything in life, I would like to install a motorised pole in the grave on which my body is spiked, set to be constantly turning. It'll add some truth to the possible commentary, when things outside of my control change for what appears to be for the worse. At the time, of course. I reserve the right to stop spinning at any point.

What I want is out of reach. What I want is over.

The fundamental problem with our own personal logic is that it is based on information from the past. It shapes who we are and how we think and what we do. Enlightenment is taking a logical leap of faith from a foundation built by what/who has come before us.

We always seem to think that we know better, but that's why good teachers are so important. They help us to see things in perspective, in order to understand all layers of representation, rather than just the one that we can easily identify with.

Any point in space, no matter how apparently transfixed it may appear at a single moment in time, has an infinite number of possibilities in which to move.

Consider a proton. From the sun in this particular solar system. Taking just over 8 minutes, from source, to shine through a window in an "old school" and hit me in the face.

To teach me a lesson. A valuable one.

20081123 ^up
 
Aposing Perspectives
How Mad Are You?
BBC. Horizon. Question. Panel that determines. Sanity. Half mad. Half normal. Who? Actions and attitudes. To controlled scenarios. To be dissected.

Limited evidence. Conclusions. Wrong?

Obsessive. Compulsive. Disorder?

Bi-polar. Depressed. Normal?

The main concept presented tonight was the inability for experts to diagnose psychiatric health, in relation to a person's responses when compared with others within a controlled group. The Rosenhan experiment was referenced, as this was a famous published study that took place back in 1972, regarding the admission of healthy "pseudopatients" into psychiatric hospitals in the US.

As one could easily imagine, the study generated a considerable amount of controversy due to the mis-interpretation of mental illness by trained medical practitioners. Of the eight admissions, seven were diagnosed with schizophrenia, with the remaining individual exhibiting manic-depression.

Although I can appreciate that people were acting in an environment that was far too naive, accepting and blinded, thereby susceptible to misgivings, one can't help but question those in positions of authority and judgement. Wearing a Sheriff's Badge of Science and Reason. Flown under the banner of the "greater good".

Separation. Fragmentation. Discombobulation.

We are both sides of the equation. For better or for worse.

As it should be.

20081111 ^up
 
Math (believe it or not) rocks!
The Number Devil
During lunch the other day, my friend Neil pointed out that having 10 fingers actually allows us to count all the way up to 1023, which you have to admit is pretty impressive.

One hand on its own goes up to 31.

The International Symbol for "Rock On" = 18, and this is quite apt, being that this number is 6+6+6. If I were to push the boat out, it has been noted that this gesture looks like three cojoined sixes, when taking a side view. I don't give a damn about The Devil, but the binary correlation is quite amusing, you have to admit.

In a related story, I am hoping to mentor a 10-year-old with Asperger syndrome who happens to have a keen interest in mathematics.

My intention is to present some fundamental concepts of number theory by using an interesting little book called The Number Devil. Although written for a younger audience, this book is actually a good introduction for anyone who would like to get a primer on... well... mathematical concepts.

Trust me, this stuff is bad ass.

20081107 ^up
 
Yes, I ordered a Guinness.
Postcard from Dublin
I found myself walking aimlessly, as one does in my particular predicament. Once I reached the end of Grafton Street, a pedestrianised shopping zone, approaching Trinity College from the south, I stood still with my rolling suitcase for about ten minutes.

My eyes darted repeated up and down and up again, from the tour bus visitor map to the scene in front of me. Although I knew where I was, it wasn't much help in this instance.

A friendly, distinguishedly-disheveled older gentleman, with wild white hair and a green tweed jacket, approached me from the left and asked, rather pleasantly,

"Can I help you?"

"I don't know."

"Where are you going?"

"I... don't know."

At that moment, I felt something hit my chest. A bird had shat on me.

"A bird just shat on me!"

The man smiled and nodded, as if he understood both the how and the why, then turned and walked away.

Everyone knows that to be hit by bird droppings is considered good luck. From an Irish standpoint, I must have won the jackpot.

Did I mention that my shirt was green?

20081019 ^up
 
Watch and see...
1010

My watch died Friday morning.

A bit of a shock.

It resembled a peace sign.


20081013 ^up
 
Oh Father, Where Art Thou?
Belle And Sebastian - The Model
I will confess to you because you made me think about the times you turn the picture on to me and I'll turn over, the vision was a masterpiece of comic timing. You wouldn't laugh at all. And I wondered what the boy was thinking. The picture was an old collage of something classical. The model with a tragic air. Because without a doubt he'd given up the fight. The ghost of somebody at his side.

I keep wanting to believe that there are two types of people: those who embrace their minds and those who embrace their bodies. I've always been placing emphasis on the former, letting the latter slip almost on purpose, as I saw vanity in physical representation. I saw vanity as a negative. Now I'm not so sure. A healthy body isn't vain. It's actually just common sense.

I will confess to you because I didn't think about the message as I walked down the alleyway. It was a Sunday. All my friends deserted me because you painted me as the fraud I really was. And if you think you see with just your eyes you're mad, 'cause Lisa learned a lot from putting on a blindfold when she knew she had been bad. She met another blind kid at a fancy dress. It was the best sex she ever had.

When I close my eyes, it's generally a metaphor. Disinterest. Dislocation. Disdain.

It is disturbing to see a person with their fingers extended and curved in a menacing way. It takes effort. Effort by those who understand the implications. They either widen their eyes, for show, or they don't, as a covert notion. A flashlight shone from under the chin. A "Muhahahaha!"

I'll send a dress to you because it's needing badly taken in, but I was so embarressed that I missed your party It was me that paid for it eventually because you know how much I wanted to meet your friend the star of stage and local press, the dream of all the bowlie kids that hang around here. And I'm no different from the rest. I'm not too proud to say that I'm okay with the girl next door who's famous for showing her chest.

There was an 08/08/08 party yesterday, put on by a friend of mine (that I don't know), which I didn't attend. Even though I should have shown up with a registration plate with only an 8 on it, saying that I had to outbid some Chinese guy by 5 bajillion for it. That would've been sweet. And now it's just a fantasy.

I love Brownian motion. Both in liquids and in the air. It makes me consider the similarities between the two. Birds and fish aren't that different. Swirl and curve and solvent. Air, water, wine. Oh, how we love to swirl!

You're not impressed by me, but it's a funny way for you to tell me. A whisper in a choir stall. The man was talking about you simultaneously. Frankly, I let my heavy eyelids flutter because I have been sleeping badly lately.

There's a man, probably about my age, with a young son, about two years-old, staring out of the bay window in the flat across from mine. Right now.

Purpose. I'm at the end of the tether. Where a man has nothing else and has to embrace something, someone else. I'll be dead within the year, if I don't sort things out. Either physically or mentally. Without a doubt.

20080809 ^up
 
It goes without saying...
Ray's Vast Basement - I Can Be Alone
About six years ago, which I still consider a relative eternity of space/time, I met a very influential person in my life. Let's call her Trixie Belden, from PDX via SanFran via Pennsylvania. It was the first time that I came across a person whom I connected with on a metaphysical level. I had recently split up from Alexis and was living my life as I saw fit, which was probably the most fertile period of my life so far, outside of procreation.

Everything was possible. I was living on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, out clubbing most nights, writing songs in my spare time, embracing music and having a lot of sex with random people. I even had to lie about my age to get into a popular over-25 disco, in which I ended up having an obscene amount of fun over several months.

You can call me Joe. When I come and go, real slow. I rode my bike to see the girl I like, just last night. A cabin by the marsh, lying on the roof, staring at the stars. And she is so warm, like butter on corn, whispering in my ear.

Looking back, the only problem I had was... my distance from the membrane. Let me explain. If one were to consider themselves surrounded by a sphere, mine was probably about ten feet in diameter. No one was getting anywhere close to me. This was probably fall-out from the marriage experience, where I wanted to ensure that a safe distance was in place. Surely, this is human nature. The only problem is that I was completely disconnected. Eyes and voice and demeanour are not to be trusted. The fucked up thing about all of this is that I didn't even know what was going on, in general. I'm being retrospectively psycho-analytic, but I can see easily things for what they were at the time.

Anyway...

Trixie was there to introduce me to loads of music, music that changed my perspective, changed me as a person. Yeah, music does have that power, hence the reason why I give a shit about it now and then.

She says, "If you're gonna leave, leave me now, but if you wanna fly, I'll show you how."

Anyone who has known me in the last 5 years knows this song. It's a staple of the repertoire. I play it for me, rather than for anyone else. As a reminder. A warning. A friend.

I've travelled far to play you my guitar. And this song, I wrote it all wrong. I meant to make you smile, but that could take a while.

Not a lot of people know about Ray's Vast Basement, which is a shame. This is a great song, on a truly fantasic album, which everyone should own.

I am actually honoured to write about it now.

Thanks, Trixie Bee. I have been well and truly pollinated.

20080809 ^up
 
Dignity? Is that a word?
Bright Eyes - Bowl of Oranges
The weather has changed in Glasgow, of late. Although we've only entered into August, I can't help but feel that the temperature has dropped, suddenly, as if it needed to do so in order to put us in our place. Last night I felt it necessary to close my windows, as I was actually too cold for the first time in months.

As those who know me best would reiterate, I am a man engulfed by a constant force of heat/uncomfortableness, hence the reason why I prefer Scotland to South Carolina. I don't like to sweat, even though I do it oh so well. For me to say that I'm actually chilled, the temperature must surely be sub-acceptable by the general public. Practically frozen.

The rain, it started tapping on the window near my bed. There was a loophole in my dreaming, so I got out of it. And to my surprise my eyes were wide and already open. Just my nightstand and my dresser where those nightmares had just been.

Things were warm, sticky even, until it rained at the weekend. A proper, heavy shower. Due to this, I was under the impression that my world was clean. Crisp. Like the ideology used in a beer advert. From the Rockies. Possibly Coors Light.

So I dressed myself and left them, out into the gray streets. But everything seemed different and completely new to me. The sky, the trees, houses, buildings, even my own body.

Yesterday was spent reading the last few chapters of American Psycho, followed by the film adaptation, which I originally saw when it came out years ago, even though I didn't remember most of the scenes, other than those which related to the perfect business card. Which haunts me even now. My desire knows no bounds in that realm, to be perfectly honest. Beyond that, Book = great. Film = shit.

Of course the plot was the same and quite a substantial amount of dialogue was ripped straight from the book, but I just felt disappointed by the whole affair. As much as I wanted to laugh at Patrick Bateman and the "oh, look at my distance from reality, which is based on a bloated and over-ripe-non-sentimentality of the human condition" ideal that he epitomised (it's my bag), I couldn't help but consider the source material, the 'social commentary', if you will. Holding up a mirror. Reminding us why the Roman Empire fell, due to it's own self-destructive apathy and inward gaze.

Not willing to grow. Expand. Become something better than itself. That would involve some form of outward consideration. Potkettleblack.

I could offer the same damning critique about the cinematic version of Less Than Zero, even though I refuse to watch the film again because I know that it is going to be sub-par to the mental menagerie that the book has afforded me. Were I a man with unlimited funds and a connection to ex-pat Americano students living in Edinburgh during the festival season, I would direct an adaptation based even moreso on the book's actual storyline, with no fucking punches pulled, simply titled <0. Of course.

And I came upon a doctor who appeared in quite poor health. I said, "There's nothing that I can do for you that you can't do for yourself." He said, "Oh yes you can. Just hold my hand. I think that would help." So I sat with him a while, and then I asked him how he felt.

He said, "I think I'm cured. No, in fact, I'm sure of it. Thank you stranger for your therapeutic smile."


Words. Are. Cheap. We are becoming more and more aware of our representations of presentation. And we distance ourselves from our terminology. And through it. Speaking without repercussions. Reciprocated monologues. Talking at people.

And we'll just keep working on the problem we know we'll never solve of love's uneven remainder, our lives are fractions of a whole. But if the world could remain within a frame like a painting on a wall, then I think we would see the beauty then, we would stand staring in awe at our still lives posed like a bowl of oranges, like a story told by the fault lines and the soil.

As far as I'm concerned, this still life has never been more representative: Realistic, boring 'art'.

20080806 ^up
 
Whatever.
Death Cab For Cutie - Grapevine Fires
It's a funny thing, trying to convince the world that you're still alive.

When the wind picked up, the fire spread, and the grapevines seemed left for dead. And the northern sky looked like the end of days. The end of days.

Over the last few weeks, I've been working rather late in the office. Much to my chagrin, motion sensors have been installed, determining when it is most prudent to turn off the lights. In general, I can appreciate this energy-saving measure. However, one tends to consider their influence on the world when the lights go out around them, simply because they're not making enough physical motions.

A wake up call to a rented room sounded like an alarm of impending doom to warn us it's only a matter of time before we all burn.

When everything goes dark, I start waving my arms wildly, as if I'm in a life raft floating aimlessly in the Pacific, trying desperately to attract the attention of some random Japanese fishing boat approaching in the distance. It's somewhat condescending, but I am relieved when the lights do turn back on, even though I feel a wee bit silly about the whole fiasco.

I. Am. Alive?

Of course this escapade has done nothing more than make me question the sentiment. Am I really amongst the living? In the truest sense? Am I more than a function?

We bought some wine and some paper cups, near your daughter's school when we picked her up and drove to a cemetery on a hill. And we watched the plumes paint the sky gray, as she laughed and danced through the field of graves. There I knew it would be alright, that everything would be alright.

It's a toss up. Things are a fine mesh of shite and brilliance.

And the news reports on the radio said it was getting worse as the ocean air fanned the flames, but I couldn't think of anywhere I would have rather been to watch it all burn away, to burn away.

It might be that I embrace change more than it is capable of presenting itself. For this I cannot possibly apologise. The concept of burning a parcel of land is far too understandable for me, knowing that fallow earth is rich and relevant to the future. Sustainability.

The firemen worked in double shifts, with prayers for rain on their lips, and they knew it was only a matter of time.

Time is time is time. Static notion. End point.

And then we move on.

20080803 ^up
 
Who is this 'Max' guy?
Bloc Party - Song For Clay (Disappear Here)
No two ways about it, I've never been keen on reading a book that has the words "Now a major motion picture!" on the cover, even less so ones that use photographs from said film. Given the choice between the original cover artwork or an actor's face, it's a simple decision. In the past, I've gone out of my way to NOT read books that have movie adaptations, especially if I've actually experienced the latter first. I have trouble getting over the feeling of being tainted, misled, full of pre-conceived notions of who the characters are, especially how they look and move and speak and laugh and kiss and fuck and allthatjazz.

Besides, I already know how the story is going to end. With that said, there's surely an argument from the "it's a journey, not a destination" camp. Literature, when well-written, could be savoured with each sentence. Notice the use of the word could. I am generally not that sort of reader. All I'm saying is that there are usually two main reasons for making the comment that life is too short. Both are valid.

I am trying to be heroic in an age of modernity.

Today I picked up an old copy of Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis from a charity shop for a mere 50 pence. Although I have thoroughly enjoyed his other books, I've always stopped myself from reading this one because I've seen the film a few times over the years. It was a big hit in the late 80's starring Robert Downey Jr. along with two other acting mainstays of the time, Jami Gertz and Andrew McCarthy. Guess who are sitting pretty on the cover of this book?

(C'mon... 50p! I never said it was a rule.)

So I enjoy and I devour flesh and wine and luxury, but in my heart I am so lukewarm. Nothing ever really touches me.

Let's put this in perspective: some disaffected young man is writing about a song by a disaffected young man that is based on a book by yet another disaffected young man. Actually, I'm the oldest of the group, and I don't fit the young tag anymore, unless it is used in some other relative sense. Kele from Bloc Party was probably about 26 when he penned this song, yet BEE was only 21 when his book was published, way back in 1985. Pretty impressive, and rather concerning, given the heavy, nihilistic tone of the novel.

From the moment I first heard this song, I wanted to give Kele a high five on nailing what I think he wanted to convey. Not only are the lyrics heavily influenced by Less Than Zero (Clay is the main character and "Disappear here" is a prevailing notion throughout the story that is first presented as an unintentionally-disturbing L.A. billboard slogan), but the song itself is influenced by the theme song for the film, a cover of Hazy Shade of Winter by The Bangles, which was originally released by Simon and Garfunkle 20 years earlier. You just can't go wrong with a good guitar riff over a rocktastic 1-2-3-4 snare-heavy beat.

At the Trois Garcons, we meet at precisely 9 o'clock. I order the foie gras and I eat it with complete disdain.

When I started reading the book earlier today, it was lunchtime, and I was sitting alone in KFC. I thought about what it must be like to live a life of unabashed luxury, yet to still find fault in the absence of gratitude brought about by the lack of any actual struggle worth noting, just like these pitiful and unpitiable characters.

I ate my greasy, delicious fried chicken with complete, and knowing, disdain.

20080712 ^up
 
See it.  Feel it.  Know it.
It really is that simple...
01010101 01101110 01100010 01100101 01101100 01101001 01100101 01110110 01100001 01100010 01101100 01100101 00101100 00100000 01101001 01110011 01101110 00100111 01110100 00100000 01101001 01110100 00111111 00100000 00100000 01001111 01101110 01100101 01110011 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01111010 01100101 01110010 01101111 01110011 00101110 00100000 00100000 01010100 01101000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100001 01110011 00100000 01101100 01101111 01110111 00101101 01101100 01100101 01110110 01100101 01101100 00100000 01100001 01110011 00100000 01101001 01110100 00100000 01100111 01100101 01110100 01110011 00101110 00001101 00001010 00001101 00001010 01001001 01110100 00101110 00100000 00100000 01001001 01010100 00101110 00100000 00100000 01001001 01101110 01100110 01101111 01110010 01101101 01100001 01110100 01101001 01101111 01101110 00100000 01110100 01100101 01100011 01101000 01101110 01101111 01101100 01101111 01100111 01111001 00101110 00001101 00001010 00001101 00001010 01001011 01101110 01101111 01110111 00100000 01110100 01101000 01111001 01110011 01100101 01101100 01100110 00101110

20080708 ^up
 
A bridge is a metaphor for... something.
Yo La Tengo - By The Time It Gets Dark
Today is the longest day of the year. It's the first day of summer, but you wouldn't know that here in Scotland. I actually can't remember the last time it was as cold and rainy as it is now. However, it's after 10 PM, and the sky is not yet dark.

Baby, every cloud has a silver lining. Baby, every dog really has its day. And it matters to me to see you smiling. Why don’t we blow all your cares away?

I have spent the day with my in-laws, which isn't such a bad thing. It was the Armadale Gala Day. There was a parade.

Yesterday’s gone and will be forgotten, and today is where every new day starts. Got to be free like the leaves in Autumn. You may be sad but it never lasts.

Maybe it's a fitting end to this day to be sitting here watching Interview With The Vampire, being reminded of far too many aspects of the human condition.

Fiction is rife with fact.

And maybe, by the evening we’ll be laughing. Just wait and see all the changes there’ll be by the time it gets dark.

Sunrise, sunset. It's easy to see how our ancestors associated the light of day with goodness and the dark of night with evil. When the sun went down, that marked the time in which to sleep. To be awake in the dark is to be an animal, worse than that, a beast, who is surely up to no good.

Photosynthesis. Vitamin D. To be a slave, to be a plant or a bug that yearns for the energy of the sun. We do it.

We could go out walking out in the sunshine. Look at all the people out in the street. Hurrying away to their business functions, waiting for a taxi for aching feet.

Due to the fact that our eyes can perceive the 'visible' spectrum of light, it is extremely difficult to even begin to understand any additional levels of perspective. Humanity is synonymous with perfection, to a fault. We continue to perpetuate this.

Light up your face, baby. Let’s get going. Wanna see a change in those weary eyes. We’ll have some fun. Take a boat out rowing. Why ever should life so serious?

As William Corgan so eloquently said in song, youth is wasted on the young. The key word is "appreciation". I don't think that I can give a definition of what it means to really appreciate anything, as this is undoubtedly a selfish act, in itself.

And maybe, by the evening we’ll be laughing. Just wait and see all the changes there’ll be, by the time it gets dark.

There's a lot to be said for Romantic notions.

20080621 ^up
 
Human?
Grandaddy - Everything Beautiful Is Far Away
He just finished eating dinner and stepped outside the cave to smoke a cigarette he'd made from rolled up photo paper. They were pictures of things back on Earth.

I seek out patterns.

It's surely a human characteristic, picking up on both the subtle and not-so-suble "truths" that surround us.

He looked out on the grey-ish white expanse of uninhabited terrain he now called home. He'd seen plenty of mirages and imaginary visitors up until then, so he wasn't sure what to think when he saw swans, and they were wading on the shores of a pale white lake that he'd never seen there before. And it was quite beautiful, and it was far away, 'cause everything beautiful is far away.

A while back, I went to go visit my mates at their flat during a recording session for The Red Well, a band of which they're both members. As I walked in, I could see that Barry had been drawing a picture of a strange-looking face, which I didn't quite understand at first. He then pointed to the bag of striped pasta on a shelf in the sitting room. I burst out laughing. I laughed until I cried, which is the best kind of laugh.

Can you see the face? Of course you do! Although we don't have a perfect human head on offer, there are definitely features that are visible, notable. The reason for this is because the human form is based on a general ratio that is found throughout nature, so much so that it is referred to as the Golden Ratio, roughly 1.61803...

It's time for a quick mathematics lesson on the Fibonacci Sequence: 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55... As you can see, the sum of the two preceding numbers in the sequence are used to produce the next number. As the numbers continue to grow on towards infinity, the ratio between the numbers comes closer and closer to the Golden Ratio.

Look at your pointer finger. There are three sections, separated by joints. If you were to measure the length of the top bit, then multiply by the ratio, you'd get the length of the middle bit. Multiply the middle bit by the ratio, and you'll get the length of the bottom bit. It's true.

The human face is also positioned sympathetically towards this ratio. It's the reason why we see "faces" in random shapes and images. The distance between the eyes, nose, mouth. All of it. I see faces in clouds, in slabs of marble, in dirt. Further to this, I search through faces for faces. I would say that I stare at the face of almost every person I walk past on the street, looking for patterns, familiarity. I have done this since birth.

He knew he was as good as gone, but gone was somewhere he really didn't mind going to. Since the shuttle had crashed, many years had passed, and the pictures of his loved ones that he drew on the walls of the cave had finally faded. He put out his smoke and proceeded toward the lake, repeating to himself, "Everything beautiful is far away."

I seek out patterns. Patterns that make sense.

20080611
^up
 
Your chariot awaits!
Cyndi Lauper - The Goonies 'R' Good Enough
Heeeey! Yoooou! Guuuuys!

Here we are, hanging onto strains of greed and blues. Break the chain, then we break down. Oh it's not real if you don't feel it. Unspoken expectations, ideals you used to play with; they've finally taken shape for us.

More often than not, I just don't know the right words, especially when something, anything, needs to be said.

There's a memorable scene towards the end of the film where Andi is attempting to play an organ made of bones, in order to help the gang escape from the Fratelli family. Each time she messes up the notes, the ground crumbles beneath them.

Mikey turns to her and says, wholeheartedly and without a hint of sarcasm, "I believe in you. Goonies always make mistakes. Just don't make any more." He is the voice of reason, the voice of optimism and hope. Even though he doesn't realise it at the time, he's the leader of the gang and everyone else knows it.

What's good enough for you is good enough for me. It's good enough. It's good enough for me. Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!

This song was the first single I ever bought, on 45 RPM vinyl, from a supermarket (Food Town, later to be known as Food Lion, yes, you heard me right, Food Lion), in Gastonia, North Carolina. A couple of weeks later, I bought the Prince single for "Purple Rain", with the b-side of "When Doves Cry". I remember playing both of these on my portable Mickey Mouse record player, where Mickey's arm was the stylus. I was 8 years old.

Old fashioned superstitions I find too hard to break.

Yes, I can be rather anal, and I am fully aware of the fact that the video for this song points out a discrepancy in the film. When the Goonies meet up with their families at the end, there is a comment from Data about how they had to deal with an octopus. As this scene was actually deleted from the film, it makes absolutely no sense. Whoever was in charge of continuity should be ashamed.

What's good enough for you is good enough for me. It's good enough. It's good enough for me.

I'm a Goonie, you're a Goonie. We know this, and we fully appreciate it. That's just how we roll.

As we already know, Goonies always make mistakes.

20080528 ^up
 
What, you've never seen a bunny brandishing a wooden spoon before?
Beirut - A Sunday Smile
There's something to be said for minimalism.

Short. Punchy. To the point.

All I want is the best for our lives, my dear.

I have a favourite quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the few people who have ever lived that I'd like to meet. Posthumously, of course, yet not in the zombie sense.

"My ambition is to say in ten sentences what everyone says in a book - what everyone does not say in a book."

And you know my wishes are sincere.

I love this song.

20080520 ^up
 
Look up and look behind you
Built To Spill - Now And Then
Within the last year, I've noticed that an increasing number of Victorian tennement properties for sale in Glasgow have included close-up photos of cornicing in their schedules. I'm guessing that this is to highlight an additional period feature that hasn't been lost through the brutality of time and ever-changing fads. Out with the old, in with the new, right?

Maybe I tend to over-romanticise the past, forgetting that things do generally change for a good reason. For instance, the introduction of central heating removed the need for fireplaces in every room, no matter how beautiful or ornate they happened to be. Functionality usually overtakes sentimentality, and it doesn't apologise. Decisions are made with the best of intentions, and they are always made in the present.

I can just imagine some lady back in the 80's telling her husband, "Honey, just imagine how much more space this bedroom room would have without that useless fireplace in the middle of the wall! If we got rid of it, the bed would fit nicely there, along with a new chest of drawers."

There is always some good reason, at the time.

Now and then, sometimes when you're thinking about when you were always drinking and how friend, ships came in one evening. You loudly pretend connecting had some meaning, but now you don't, 'cause you can't recall why you were possessed to say something like, "Come along with me and find a new direction."

I am a creature of habit, like most. Back when I bought this place last year, I had every intention of turning it somewhat into the flat I had back in Edinburgh a few years ago, right down to the paint colour I'd use in the sitting room, Deep Adam Green. Same furniture, same white trim on the woodwork, even the same type of ivy in a pot on the bookshelf. On the surface, things appear to be very similar, although there are innumerable differences. Personal preferences. Decisions made, as they always are, in the present. If we do look to the past for inspiration, a sense of familiarity, or just because it's easier, that is more than allowed.

There's no telling how long ago the fireplace was removed from the sitting room in this flat. I thought about putting one back in, but if I'm not going to use the fire, why do I want a wall-killer that's nothing more than a ornament without a proper function?

And now you don't, 'cause you can't.

20080519 ^up
 
Blinded by paradise?
Frightened Rabbit - Head Rolls Off
Jesus is just a Spanish boy's name. How come one man got so much fame? And to any me, it's pointless to anybody that doesn't have faith.

I am a simple man. With rather basic wants and needs. Although music surely fits comfortably somewhere between the two, I can't help but recognise the profound effect that it often has on my life. When I hear a good song with even better lyrics, it seeps into my brain and subconsciously triggers the chemical reactions that control any number of electrical impulses. Call them responses, thoughts, feelings, what have you. I'm just a conduit. Information needs to be processed.

It wants to be processed.

When it's all gone, something carries on. And it's not morbid at all, it's just when nature's had enough of you. When my blood stops, someone else's will have not. When my head rolls off, someone else's will turn. And while I'm alive, I'll make tiny changes to Earth.

As mentioned in previous articles, I am quite partial to songs of the "happysad" variety, for surely obvious reasons. Happy is fine. Sad is fine. However, when you mix things up, when you can experience both poles in equal measure, it's not a zero-sum game. You actually jump up a level. Mathematically speaking, in this case, 1 plus -1 isn't nothing, it's 10.

No... it's more like adding 1 and -1 and realising that you're actually carrying out a mathematical operation. You see the bigger picture.

I guess I mean that an understanding of perspective is gained, and you're able to transcend to the point that you can see a "set" rather than merely items (apple, orange, donkey, etc.) in that set. To recognise this set is to fundamentally change the way in which you view said items.

Georg Cantor, the father of set theory, presented interesting ideas over a hundred years ago on the concept of infinity and on numbers in general, which are well worth a read. One of the notions that he extrapolated from this is the set of all sets, the logical representation of what some would define as "God".

So you can burn me because we'll all be the same; the same way. Dirt in someone's eye that's cried down the drain.

What is this container, this super-set? Is it an entity in its own right, or is it merely a collective of the constituents? We're venturing dangerously into Michel Foucault territory surrounding what is referred to as "gaze", albeit for good reason.

I believe in a house in the clouds, and God's got His dead friends 'round. He's painted all the walls in red to remind them they're all dead. And you know, and it's all gone, something carries on, and it's not morbid at all, it's just when nature's had enough of you. When my blood stops, someone else's will have not. When my head rolls off, someone else's will turn.

Maybe Dolly Parton's character in Steel Magnolias was on to something when she claimed that "laughter through tears is my favorite emotion". What perspective she must have!

You can mark my words, I'll make changes to Earth. While I'm alive, I'll make tiny changes to Earth.

This little ditty, made by some guys in Glasgow that I would like to consider friends (or contemporaries in the least), makes me think about a helluva lot of stuff, some of which you've read above. For that, I cannot thank them enough. Besides, it's probably the finest song that John Cougar Mellencamp never wrote.

Earth continues to be changed, for the best, and you damn well know it.

20080501 ^up
 
Stupid is as stupid does
Menomena - The Pelican
I speak to my dad about twice a year, at most, but that doesn't mean that I don't think about him. We just don't talk on the phone very often. It's a guy thing. Years ago, I used to phone him quite regularly, and the conversation usually went along the following lines:

"So, Dad, how's it going?" To which he would reply, as he always did, "Same shit, another day." By the end of the phone call, I was generally depressed and despondent, going from excited speech into a monotonous drone. Such was the influence of my father.

Take it when I'm not looking! Take it from my hook while it's still kicking! Don't you feel it when I start reeling? I guess some things never change, and I still hold the reins on what you're feeling.

Over time, I simply learned to not even bother with a connection. My dad is a bit of an "out of sight, out of mind" kind of dude, which is something I've learned oh too well and can fully appreciate. It doesn't mean that neither of us don't give a shit. Life is just more relevant when you're face-to-face with someone. Eveything else is simply fantasy. Undetermined.

Of course I know that a person is living and breathing when I'm not there, but it's the whole Schrödinger's Cat type of scenario. This experiment requires an observer to be truly valid. Indeterminacy says that there can be more than one correct answer to a problem which physically can only have one answer.

I've just been sitting here watching that Mel Gibson film, Signs. Several years ago, Mel was in my neck of the woods filming The Patriot, in Historic Brattonsville. I have worked there before, as an actor pretending to be the son of a wealthy land-owner during the late 18th century. Yes, I have worn period garb. And I like it.

Anyway, Mel was driving around on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, when he happened to come across Henry's Knob, a big hill across the road from where I grew up. He pulled up at my Dad's automotive garage and was interested about the hill. Who owned it? Could he go up on it? My dad recognised him as "Mad Max" and asked if he wanted to hang out at our house to get away from it all. We have a pool, you know.

Did my dad see Mel as William Wallace? Did he see a Scottish connection (me) as a topic of conversation? No and No. That's cool. My dad was always a big fan of Mad Max, so I can't hold that against him. I personally prefer the Beyond Thunderdome version of Mr. Max, but that was the biggest budget of the series and had the Tina Turner connection. We don't need another hero. It's true.

The Stewart crest shows a pelican piercing its own flesh in order to feed its children with blood.

Virescit vulnere virtus!

Courage grows strong at the wound!

We're far too literal these days. It's a shame, and this says quite a bit about our pathetic way of viewing the world around us. What's wrong with dishing out a huge helping of allegory? Let's get Biblical, goddammit.

Take it when I'm enjoying! Take it from my mouth while I'm still chewing! Don't you feel it when I start pulling back? I guess some birds never learn. One day these tides will turn and leave you nothing!

Prodigal. Minimal. I know my surname, and I know what that implies.

20080212 ^up
 
How I wonder what you are!
Sufjan Stevens - Star Of Wonder
There is generally some form of valid reasoning behind most things that we know and take for granted. January, for instance, is named after Janus, a Roman god with two faces conveniently positioned in opposite directions. Past and future. End and beginning. Heads and... heads.

As I closed 2007 with a festive ditty by Sufjan Stevens, it's only fitting to flip the same coin and use another one for the start of 2008, especially as this happened to be the song from the compilation that I wanted to write about all along. It sounds truly beautiful, even magical. Last week, as the snow was falling in Edinburgh, this was the perfect soundtrack, from the very first note.

I call you from the comet's cradle. I found you trembling by yourself. When the night falls, lightly on your right winged shoulder, slightly when the night gets colder.

Back when I was about eight years old, I sat down with an encyclopedia and wrote a report about black holes. This wasn't a school assignment. It was just something I felt compelled to do at the time. Even then, I knew enough about the universe to consider how important this concept was in the grand scheme of things. Truth be told, they even sound bad ass.

Oh conscience, where will you carry me?

When finished, I folded the sheet of wide-ruled notebook paper and put it in the middle of our massive family Bible, complete with golden-edged pages and interspersed full-colour images of the whole holy gang. This was the most important filing cabinet in our home. About a year and a half ago, I remembered the paper and asked my mom to send me a photocopy, for reference. She obliged.

We see the star of wonder. Wonderful night falls. We see you, we see you there.

The most interesting thing about a black hole is that it isn't a void. It isn't nothing. On the contrary, scientists are led to believe that these phenomena occur when a star collapses upon itself, creating a central point that's referred to as a singularity, where unimaginable mass is compacted into the smallest possible volume. With mass comes gravity, and with such intense gravitation, there reaches a stage where even light cannot escape. For all intents and purposes, it's invisible, at least beyond our rather primitive sense of sight.

I see the stars coming down there, coming down there to the yard. I see the stars coming down there, coming down there to my heart.

It goes without saying that resolutions are usually rather pointless, so I'll refrain from commenting about any here.

Besides, I've already made my point.

20080108 ^up
 
What is the meaning of Xmas?
Sufjan Stevens - Get Behind Me, Santa!
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Figuratively and literally. Don't worry ladies, he gets to be an egg at Easter. And a bunny rabbit, which pretty much symbolises sex in my book. And raised from the dead. No, not as a bunny rabbit. Speaking of which, what is the etymology of "bunny rabbit" when one word or the other would surely suffice? All I know is that a bunny is likely to be cuter, but that's based purely on personal opinion.

Yes, it's that special time of year once again when we like to celebrate the strange mix of Pagan, Christian and, above all, Capitalistic ideology. Am I excited? Yes. And very much no.

The Christmas Curmudgeon: "I know what you're doing to me, boy! You move so fast like a psychopathic color TV, with your Christmas bag and your jolly face and the reindeer stomping all over the place!"

Santa Claus and his busy-body elves: "Take it easy what you gotta be so absurd! You make it sound like Christmas is a 4-letter word. It's a fact of life whether you like it or not, so put your hands together and give it a shot!"


I've already received a present from myself, in the form of Sufjan Steven's box set of Christmas songs. For those of you who don't know, he has been recording covers of "familiar classics" as well as some of his own festive creations for the last several years, and now we are blessed with the full collection in one handy package.

Let me break it down for you: It's Sufjan. Doing Christmas songs. In the Sufjan style. Fantastic.

Something tells me that I will be listening to this long after the season has ended, as well as making it the de facto holiday music in my household for many, many years to come. (Sorry, Neil Diamond. Your collection is great as well, but I secretly take the piss out of you. It's best that you found out now. I've grown up, and I just don't feel comfortable with having too much kitsch in my life anymore. It's not you, it's me. We can still have fun from time to time, but that's all it'll be, just a bit of fun.)

The Christmas Curmudgeon: "I don't care about family and shopping malls, candy canes or the carolers decking the halls. I don't care what you say, Santa Claus. You're a bad brother breakin' into people's garages!"

Santa Claus and his busy-body elves: "You got it wrong 'cause I'm just another regular guy with superpowers and a penchant for the yule tide. Is it a crime to give a little once in a while? I travel 'round the world tryin' to make people smile!"


Granted, I am not really into celebrating Christmas these days, but it doesn't mean that I'm against it. Oh no. The holiday definitely has its place, and it usually does more good than harm for most people. Have you ever considered how shitty winter would be without a distraction?

Christmas time! Christmas time! Christmas time! We're having a good time!

Having a "good time" usually means getting drunk in a social setting, at least it definitely seems to be the case these days. I've heard so many people admit that they can't wait until January so that they don't feel compelled to drink themselves to death anymore. Merry Christmas, indeed. Sure, it's fun, but in the aforementioned Neil Diamond sense.

Christmas time! Christmas time! Christmas time! We're having a good time!

The photograph you see here is one of my favourites. It was taken in The Dome, in Edinburgh... as I was standing at the bar.

20071222 ^up
 
Ch-ch-changes!
Modest Mouse - Talking Shit About A Pretty Sunset
Although I didn't think it was humanly possible, I have been without a home interweb connection for almost two months. A life spent online is a life not truly lived, to be honest, but it's incredibly nice to have a steady stream of sweet, sweet high-grade data being pumped straight into the main vein of my new residence. It helps to occupy the time during these cold nights of late, although I have done a good job of using television as a short-term replacement.

I claim I'm not excited with my life any more, so I blame this town, this job, these friends. The truth is it's myself.

Distraction has been my preferred vice recently, where I have been opting for anything that keeps me from doing the things that I need to get on with, such as renovating my flat or moving forward with Operation: XLONZ, not to mention all of the other crazy projects that I come up with each day. Maybe I'm waiting for the new year. Maybe I'm a lazy bastard. Maybe I'm just biding my time.

By the way, what else does one "bide"? Does that verb work with anything else? I will need to bide about that and get back to you.

I'm trying to understand myself and pinpoint where I am. When I finally get it figured out, I've change the whole damn plan.

When Alexis and I were still living in Aberdeen, probably 9 years ago, we sat down one night and made a list of where we wanted to be in one year, as well as five years into the future. My items were either music or work-related, and I eventually accomplished all of them, as my plans weren't too far-fetched, at least in my personal sense of what was achievable. Kinda sad, really, even though I should probably feel proud or something. Nope, doesn't work.

What about now? Well, I have one major project that I fantasize about every single day, but it has yet to come to fruition, due to all of the biding that I've been up to. Whilst I bide, I think. And think. And think. And think. And think. And think. And think. And think. And think. And think.

I've changed my mind so much I can't even trust it. My mind changed me so much I can't even trust myself.

Think.Plan.Think.Plan.Think.

20071204 ^up
 
Relevance is Key
Khaya - Death 2 Numbers
Let's get something straight, right now. Khaya are the most important band to have ever come out of Edinburgh, which says a lot because they dis-banded a few years ago. Although it's impossible to remember how the subject came up, I actually had a discussion about this on Friday night in the pub, and two of my music scenester friends pretty much told me that I was talking absolute bollocks. No matter. This band had great songs, great albums, as well as a certain air of bitter/hopeful self-acknowledgement and self-destruction that made them relevant and believable. To me, relevance is key.

I wish I were FIRE!

The song Death 2 Numbers is the stand-out track on the last EP they released, mainly because it's both noisily manic and infectiously poppy, with merely a handful of lyrics that say so much with so little. Fucking bravo, Mr Dan Mutch. No one has done it better since Black Francis.

Just because there's no second verse doesn't mean it's not a song, Anna!

Now, let's talk about numbers, which are still very much alive.

The last week or so has seen me becoming obsessed with yet another new mathematical concept I came up with that will surely be forgotten about tomorrow, when I conclude that it doesn't really matter to anyone else, in the grand scheme of things. Do you care about explosive root precision ratios? I thought not. However, it's basically something that could be used as a basis for general information storage methods, whether it be computer file sizes or DNA, but I don't feel the need to find a practical use. I search for beauty in simplicity, through numerical form. That shit gets me hot. I can't help it.

Something odd happened to me this weekend. The views of a person, writing something very similar to my own thoughts on the nature of the universe, made me question how I really felt, deep down, in my heart. The latest issue of New Scientist (Vol 195, No 2621) has a cover story written by MIT physicist Max Tegmark about the reality of numbers. He basically argues that our philisophical notions, from a purely human standpoint, based on what we can observe and rationalise, obstruct our understanding of the universe around us. As the followers of Pythagorean ideas already knew 1500 years ago, everything is number (although we have no reason to fear the irrationals, such as the square root of 2, which drove those fuckers crazy).

It's likely that Tegmark's "mathematical universe hypothesis" didn't sit well with me because it was so fucking obvious and didn't deliver the goods. OF COURSE he's right, but he's not telling us anything that is of any relevance, other than some generalistic, over-arching notion. As you already know, relevance is key.

Just because I was wondering doesn't mean I didn't know in my heart.

Even if Khaya wanted to wish death upon numbers, I'm not holding it against them. They matter to me, and numbers matter to me, and if I'm lucky in this life, what matters to me is relevant to others and will have an impact on the future of humanity.

I just wish everyone had the same delusions of grandeur. Maybe I also wish that I were fire, to light a flame under the asses of others.

20070918 ^up
 
Take me to Sorry, pronto!
The Apples In Stereo - Sunndal Song
Today, I have decided to take the Sorry Bus. As you can see from the photo, its destination is "Sorry". The last time I came across this magic vehicle, about 9 months ago, it was driving down Queen Street in Glasgow, but I was too slow to capture it with the camera on my trusty mobile phone. I've thought about its importance continuously ever since. Today, however, the bus appeared just when I needed it.

I've been a bit of dick to a lot of people over the last month or so. My head has been stuck too far up my own arse to be any use to anyone. Thank the Good Lord (TM) that I started back to work today because it put me in a much better mood than I had been previously. This could be down to the introduction of structure in my daily life, or maybe it's due to the need to interact with other human beings rather than sit alone and curse myself for being such a pathetic bastard. So it goes. I'll take whatever works.

Anyway, for what it's worth, I'm sorry. As much as I hate saying that, being that these are generally the words of a person who says just enough to get by, just enough to smooth things over until the next time he needs to utter the hollow, useless whispers of nothings for yet another reason. Apologies shouldn't be necessary, as far as I'm concerned. How we live our lives and how we treat others should guarantee that, from the onset.

And so when you're down, I'll lift you up, I'll be the one who's always sure of where you are and all the things you need to know.

So, what song are they playing on the Sorry Bus, you may ask? Well, this one, of course. It acts as a reminder of the importance of the people you care about, as well as those who give a damn about you.

This song is so fucking happy that it makes me want to burst right here and now into a million tons of multi-coloured confetti to cover the entire planet (in an eco-friendly way, of course).

And when you're tired and think the moon forgot to shine on you, you'll see. Just wait for me to show you.

Just wait for me to show you! I promise that it won't take too long.

20070903 ^up
 
Rejoice, a child is born!
Pictures From America: Part II
Planes smell a lot like hospitals. I guess it's fitting because the combination covers bringing one into the world, taking one around the world and finally taking one out of the world. One is very busy, it seems. Whenever people are in either, we tend to have a lot of time in which to think. Let's just say that I've been in hospitals and on planes a lot over the last two months.

My sister recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Grayson. You see, her middle name is Gray, and had the baby been a girl, she would have been Gracie. It's basically an old school Scandinavian naming convention, and I like it. There is now another human being on the planet, and at this moment his capabilities are endless. I'll do my best to help him with whatever he wants to do with his life, although I hope that he blossoms into a someone above and beyond what I could ever imagine.

The story of Adam and Eve has been playing heavily on my mind over the last week. Taking it from a completely metaphorical standpoint, we are all born into the Garden of Eden, and we are perfect. Beautiful. Ideal. And then we start to become truly human. And we cast ourselves from Eden. The Fruit from the Tree of Knowledge is just that. Once we understand the concept of dichotomy, to separate good and bad, right and wrong, the binary notion that is the root of all logic, we are lost. From that point onwards, there will always be a fork in the road. There will always be choices to be made. To err is human. And we do a damn good job.

Today is a Bank Holiday in England, which means that the London Stock Exchange is closed, and I can't get my fix for the day. Addiction takes on many forms, and it is closely linked to obsession. I know quite a bit about both. Right now I'm reading A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, which is a memoir about the author's experience in rehab for severe drug and alcohol addiction when he was only 23. Severe isn't even the right word. Although I should probably have taken more from his experiences, I'm sitting here with my third gin and lemonade of the day, and it's only 2:00 in the Post Meridian. It's funny what boredom will do to a person, especially when on holiday. My life is a square, and I do like to round the edges from time to time.

I considered phoning some of my friends who work down the street to see if they wanted to meet for lunch, but my current frame of mind is definitely anti-social. No, let me rephrase that. I would like to be around people, but I'm not interested in small talk. I would love to sit in a room with people and discuss important issues, things that matter in the world. I want to have an "outcome", so that we knew that none of us were wasting our time. I've always said that my ideal job would be to work for a think tank organisation, where people simply sat around and used their brains to come up with fantastic ideas that changed the planet. To me, that's what we are here to do, although the "doing" is probably more important than "thinking". I just get bored rather easily. It's the curse of this generation, and this will only get worse over time. However, it doesn't mean that we can't take advantage of our never-before-seen skills in multi-tasking.

A new era is coming, and I have an idea of how we can harness this vast power of our collective mindset.

In the future, our Ciriculum Vitae will not only contain information about our work experience but also all of the amazing ideas that we have generated and contributed towards. We will be judged by our peers on what we are capable of thinking/doing, and intelligence will reign supreme. Social networks will no longer be about sharing stupid photos and bullshit about how fucked up we were last Friday night. No matter what your socio-economic background, you will be able to compete with the world. There will be no differentiation in terms of class, ethnicity, gender or age.

It all depends on what you are willing to give. And what you are willing to think.

My advice is to get ready for the inevitable.

20070827 ^up
 
Punk Planet versus Adulthood
Pictures From America: Part I
Punk Planet is dead, and I am just one of the thousands of people who led to its demise. I remember buying the first issue, back in 1994, thrilled at the idea that the best writers from seminal punk magazine Maximum Rocknroll had decided to start their own publication that focused more on the bands and ideas that I found most interesting, rather than the usual bullshit that MRR would put out without thinking twice. Over the years, I picked up Punk Planet on a regular basis, either online or whenever I was in the US on holiday, reading it from cover to cover. I had some faith in this publication, as well as its readers, believing it to be the culmination of the homegrown, photocopied 'zine culture that reached its peak in the '90s, prior to the internet explosion. The pages were always newsprint, not glossy, which surely added to the implicit street cred and relevance.

So, what happened? Although I can't speak for everyone, I think this is a fine example of how my generation has simply grown up and become more interested in career progression, investment strategies, providing for children and all the things we never expected to care about... although the inevitability of it all was surely always there. We are no longer "down with the kids", and to be perfectly honest, we're cool with that. It happened to Hippies, and it's happened to Generation X'ers. As much as we hate to admit it, our idealistic notions wane through time and experience, and we become watered-down versions of our parents before us. Things that seemed so important when we were younger simply don't even register anymore. Even as I write this, I feel as though I'm older and wiser in regards to everything that I want and need to care about. As much as I hate to admit it, Punk Planet was part of my past before it even decided to stop publication.

There seems to be no real counter-culture today, and I seriously doubt that there ever was or ever will be again. At our heart, we are all consumers and practitioners of capitalism. Just flip through this last issue of PP and see it for yourself. If you don't have a copy handy, let me just say that it is full of advertisements, just like any other magazine. Buy this. Order this. Listen to this. Love this. It's always been there, but I felt happier giving my money to small businesses run by people like me rather than big corporations. These bands and these record labels never seemed to want to be famous, not in the general sense. To do so would be credibility suicide. I believe that this is no longer the case.

Let me tell you about what I saw/heard on US television in the last month. The first thing to blow my mind was an advertisement for the Australian-themed Outback Steakhouse that changed the surreal lyrics of "Wraith Pinned to a Mist and Other Games" by of Montreal and made it a song about eating meat and forgetting about everything else. I froze and thought I was in a bad dream.

Furthermore, Mates of State are shown as a live band on stage in a commercial for the largest telecommunications company in the world, AT&T. Of course the advert doesn't say who they are, but "people in the know" are familiar with the married duo and the ultra-catchy song "For the Actor" from their latest album. You should have seen my jaw drop in disbelief.

Wait, there's more. A segment from "The Bleeding Heart Show" by The New Pornographers is used as background music for an advert for the online University of Phoenix. Further to that, The Apples in Stereo have "Go", one of their older songs, used in a commericial for major American retailer Target.

I don't blame these bands for wanting to make some money. They've all paid their dues, above and beyond the hipster call of duty. What I think more about are the marketing men and women who love these bands and fought like hell to convince their superiors to use them in the commercials, knowing full well that there are numerous people out there, just like me, who will be literally blown away by having these songs played in between episodes of mind-numbing fluff and the latest CSI location.

Talk about adding gravitas to a sales pitch. I know it worked for me.

All I can say is that when I bought the last issue of Punk Planet, it was along with books about economics and a magazine called Fast Company with Al Gore on the cover. I've read more of the latter than I have of the former.

So... this is what I've become.

20070816 ^up
 
[insert face here]
Ash - Halloween
Truth be told, I have a great life, and I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to say that. It might come across that I could be writing this to convince myself, but that isn't the case, at least this time. There are so many people out there that I want to thank for being in my life, some of which I may never take the opportunity to fully convey how I feel about them. I should, I know. Before it's too late.

To say that I'm blessed is an understatement, without a doubt. Just the last week or so has brought this to the forefront of my mind, for various reasons. I'm currently on holiday for the next two months, and it's fantastic to be able to take a step back and enjoy life for a while. On Tuesday, I'm heading home for five weeks to be there when my one and only sister gives birth to her first child. I'll be an uncle. Will I become broody? Probably. Kids are cool. If nothing else, they would be an interesting sociological/psychological experiment. A project. The best project I could ever undertake.

We all have so much to give, to friends, to family, to the next generation. As much as it's easier to look out for number one, living by the golden rule is far superior. Then again, it's not necessarily about reciprocation. It's not tit for tat. My mom always reminds me to go out in the world and smile, and I'm never quite sure if it's because she wants me to portray some semblance of personal happiness or because she knows that a smile is a powerful device in a generally sad, jaded world. Either way, it's good advice.

So when I got home I went to see Mum and Dad. They asked was I OK, was I happy enough, and I smiled and said that I was.

I'd like to think that I'll fall asleep with a big smile on my face tonight, possibly singing this song over and over in my head. I know it's not the right time of year, but for ages this little-known b-side from Ash has always given me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

When I reached the house there was a party on inside. My friend came to the door, took my bags from my hand and welcomed me in from the night. As I was walking through the happy house on Halloween night, my friends were all there, my heart was glad and my life felt actually alright.

Thanks, everybody. :)

20070708 ^up
 
a wee story
The Postal Service - Brand New Colony
Hello! My name is Dane. You think you know me, but you don't. It happens.

I'll be the grapes fermented, bottled and served with the table set in my finest suit, like a perfect gentleman. I'll be the fire escape that's bolted to the ancient brick, where you will sit and contemplate your day.

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't have a soundtrack to my life. Some songs are relevent to the time in which certain events occurred. Others are incidental music to chapters yet to be written, although the outline and the inclination are there. Hell, this entire site is a good example of what I'm talking about.

I'll be the waterwings that save you if you start drowning in an open tab when your judgement's on the brink. I'll be the phonograph that plays your favorite albums back as you're lying there drifting off to sleep.

However, there are special songs that get put on the shelf, ready to be used as and when, and this is one of them. Everyone who knows me, from a musical standpoint, is fully aware of the praise I bestow upon the debut (and so far the only) album by The Postal Service. I would be willing to put it in the top 5 of the decade. Maybe the top 3. Yeah, it's that good.

I'll be the platform shoes and undo what heredity's done to you. You won't have to strain to look into my eyes. I'll be your winter coat buttoned and zipped straight to the throat, with the collar up so you won't catch a cold.

When I saw Ben Folds play in Glasgow earlier this year, he did a cover of Such Great Heights, and I thought I was going to have a coronary right then and there. It was a lethal combination of too many good things hitting me all at once. You can see a live Australian session version of it here.

But, there's something that you should know.

I want to take you far from the cynics in this town and kiss you on the mouth.

This is the song I associate with a certain someone, who I will refrain from naming and shaming here. It's easier that way.

We'll cut out bodies free from the tethers of this scene, start a brand new colony, where everything will change. We'll give ourselves new names. Identities erased.

I've got nothing to lose, but sometimes, others feel as though they do. It's not my job to do the convincing. It either is or it isn't. That's life.

Everything will change. Everything will change.

Or not, as the case may be... but wishful thinking never hurt anyone.

20070625 ^up
 
once upon a time...
The Avett Bros. - November Blue
Sometimes, people can truly surprise you. Their actions may restore your faith in humanity. Or make you completely question the human condition in general.

If I weren't leaving, would I catch you dreaming? And if I weren't gonna be gone now, could I take you home? And if I told you I loved you, would it change what you see? And if I was staying, would you stay with me?

Years ago, I claimed in lyrics to a song that I'm so objective and so far removed, it's like a story, in a book, on a shelf. I stand by that notion to this day. Blasé? Moi?

Back in the 90's The Coca-Cola Company tried out a new soft drink called "OK", which was marketed towards the new "slacker generation", and it failed miserably. The only reason I know about it at all is because I was on a school trip to the corporate headquarters in Atlanta, and all of the OK merchandise was being sold a rock bottom prices in the gift shop. I bought a shirt, which I wore twice a week for about 3 years, partly as an ironic gesture, but also as an excuse for me to start up conversations with people about the failed product. I was probably the best sales team member they ever had, albeit a bit too late. Even now, I wish I would have also bought the beach towel.

I don't know why I have to, but this man must move on. I loved my time here, didn't know 'til I was gone.

Sometimes our memories are like photographs, but you're never quite sure when they'll actually come into focus. Sometimes photographs are our memories, acting as triggers to help consolidate information into bite-sized units of understanding.

It's true, a picture says a thousand words. Usually a lot more. The one thing this photo doesn't tell you is that I didn't wash the back of my right hand for several days. I simply couldn't.

When you least expect it, people appear in your life and, if you're really lucky, change it for the better.

November spells sweet memory.

Remember: I'm OK, you're OK.

The season blue remains.

And that's OK, too.

20070528 ^up
 
that's more like it
Iron & Wine - The Trapeze Swinger
Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been over a month since my last confessional.

Please remember me, happily, by the rosebush laughing with bruises on my chin. The time when we counted every black car passing your house beneath the hill and up until someone caught us in the kitchen with maps, a mountain range, a piggy bank, a vision too removed to mention.

The photo here was taken whilst I was sitting on the toilet in The Butterfly & The Pig on Bath Street in Glasgow last Sunday. I was appreciative of the obfuscative reflection in which I was portrayed, so I felt compelled to take a photograph with my mobile phone. It's rather humourous that digital cameras need to give us a digitised version of the old-style "click" sound we were used to not so long ago. It's as if we require clarification that the deed has been done. Of course we do.

Please remember me, fondly. I heard from someone you're still pretty, and then they went on to say that the pearly gates had some eloquent graffiti like 'We'll meet again' and 'Fuck the man' and 'Tell my mother not to worry'.

Today is Mother's Day in America, and once again I forgot, due to the fact that the same holiday falls in March here in the UK. What a bitch. No, not my mom, but the situation itself. My mother, like most moms, likes to worry about me. It's part of the job. As much as I get tired of telling her not to give me a second thought, it's quite nice to have someone care about you, even when you don't want them to.

And angels with their gray handshakes were always done in such a hurry.

My mom believes in angels. 100%. She tells me all the time about how much she prays for me and for angels to surround and protect me. Rather than just accept this and move on in the conversation, I generally start in a tirade against Christianity, waving the banner of logic and reason, stating that if it makes her feel better, then that's all that matters. I could easily just keep my mouth shut, but I don't. The more I wriggle, the more she worries.

Please remember me, my misery, and how it lost me all I wanted. Those dogs that love the rain and chasing trains, the colored birds above there running in circles round the well, and where it spells on the wall behind St. Peter's so bright on cinder gray and spray paint 'Who the hell can see forever?'

I'm stuck in a rut. The future is wide open, and I can't see a damn thing. There are too many choices, too many directions. Is this the fate of humanity? Will we become too stifled in our knowledge of the things we are aware of and can't do anything about? Are we bereft of yearning? I am depressed by my own apathy, in a world where everything is possible.

Please remember me, finally, and all my uphill clawing. My dear, but if I make the pearly gates, do my best to make a drawing of God and Lucifer, a boy and girl, an angel kissin' on a sinner, a monkey and a man, a marching band. All around the frightened trapeze swingers.

What does an artist do when there are too many colours (and tastes) on his palate to provide an adequate representation of the world?

Answers on a postcard... for me to ignore, as always.

20070513 ^up
 
warning: I snore
Sufjan Stevens - Chicago / The Transfiguration
I often find that being awake feels the same as dreaming, and the line is getting blurrier every day. (Side note: I think twice before I enhance an adjective. Does it sound better to say "more blurry"? These are the types of things I worry about, but I tend to go with the -er word, as it generally sounds more funny... or funnier.)

At the end of the day, our minds are simply processing information, so I guess there's no real difference. New stimulus is good, and doing your thang in the outside world is pretty damn cool as well, but the brain can make up some rather interesting storylines and encapsulated terrariums to roam around in. Right now, I'm 50/50 with regards to my preferred state of existence.

We had our mindset. All things know. All things know. You had to find it. All things go. All things go.

J. D. Salinger may be most famous for the seminal coming-of-age novel A Catcher In The Rye, but he also wrote something just as good, if not better, Franny and Zooey. It's split into two sections, two stories, but it's the first that I find relevant to this discussion. Read it sometime. You won't be disappointed.

You came to take us. All things go. All things go. To recreate us. All things grow. All things grow.

Basically, we are all constantly searching. For something to grasp on to. For something to explain us. And equally exist beyond us. The young woman in the story, just like me or you, is no different. Clever, educated, knowledgeable, well-read, inquisitive... and due to all of these positive qualities, rather susceptible.

Read a book. Read a book. Read a book. Read a book. Take it in. Take it in. Take it in. Take it in. Repeat the mantra. Repeat the mantra. Repeat the mantra. Repeat the mantra.

I made a lot of mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes.

Sufjan Stevens has a penchant for using the same familiar melody over and over, and this song is no exception. There is a hint of spirituality in the lyrics here and considerably moreso in The Transfiguration, the closing track from a previous album.

Lost in the cloud, a voice. Have no fear! We draw near! Lost in the cloud, a sign. Son of man! Turn your ear! Lost in the cloud, a voice. Lamb of God! We draw near! Lost in the cloud, a sign. Son of man! Son of God!

Truth be told, I really love both of these songs, even with the overtly religious lyrical content. Do you know why? Because of the song itself. It's addictive. Sufjan found this melody, knew he was on to a good thing and ran with it. I don't blame him.

If you interject charged lyrics onto an already charged piece of music, you end up with something that feels important, relevant, a familiar voice within the static and confusion.

You came to take us. All things go. All things go.

Maybe I just want to feel some comfort in the thought that God does exist.

Odd. Very.

20070403 ^up
 
window dressing
Brendan Benson - What I'm Looking For
Yeah, I know. It's surprises me as well that I haven't ever used Brendan Benson as an artistic splicing partner. For those in the know, I used to be the biggest evangelist for this guy, back in the day when I considered him to be an undiscovered pop/rock genius. Several years later, Jack White certainly figured it out, so now Brendan is sorted with The Raconteurs and his solo work is featured in Ford adverts. Well done, sir. You've made it. And how does that feel? Are you fulfilled?

Well, I don't know what I'm looking for, but I know that I just wanna look some more.

Apparently not.

All of us tend to go through phases, periods in our lives when we latch on to something (or someone) and ride it out for an unforeseen period of time. In effect, we are drawn into a world we're particulary intrigued by, for whatever reason. It happens all the time. There are a number of names for this notion: hobbies, interests, habits, tastes, whims, obsessions, fetishes. Careers. Lifestyles.

And I won't be satisfied 'till there's nothing left that I haven't tried. For some people it's an easy choice, but for me there's a devil and an angel's voice.

None of us are perfect, therefore we never make the best decisions every single time. Not even half the time. "Good" and "Bad" can only be applied as an adjective to any given situation in retrospect, weighed against a plethora of other factors, as pointed out by that essential character in the story that doesn't make an appearance until far too late in the badly-directed performance. General Hindsight, with his militaristic accuracy and damned level-headedness, has a knack of making things rather clear and obvious in the subsequent debriefing to the troops. Fucker.

And I act like a child, and I'm insecure, and I'm filled with doubt and I'm immature. Sometimes it creeps up on me.

I guess we'd all like to think that we "had it together" and knew exactly what we wanted out of our lives. It's as if there's a negative association with too much choice, too much indecision.

Why can't you just grow up? Why can't you just settle down? Wouldn't it be easier if you just picked something and went with it? Ride the wave! Throw caution to the wind! Reach for the stars! Ummm. OK. But who's to say that placing yourself in a situation with the greatest number of choices isn't the ideal scenario?

Too many people out there are under the impression that there's someone telling them what to do and how to exist in the world. Guess what? That person, the voice inside your head, is YOU... and you'd be surprised how often we forget that.

Living is exactly the same as lucid dreaming, when you recognise that you're actually asleep, when you decide to take control and become the script writer. Have you ever had a lucid dream?

I always check the light switches.

Sit down and watch the film Waking Life sometime, and you'll know what I mean.

It works.

20070312 ^up
 
this is the face of unimpressedness
The Arcade Fire - Intervention
Like any well-meaning indie rocker past his prime yet eager to see what's on offer these days, I'm sitting around tonight having a bottle of wine and listening to the new album by The Arcade Fire, Neon Bible.

First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Rhîan (aka Wheezie) for giving me the second copy that she was sent in the post, due to a cock-up of an on-line purchase from a major retailer. I had already bought said album during my lunch break today, although I promptly returned it for a refund when I knew a freebie was on offer. Mercy buckets, my friend.

After the first listen, I have three words for you: Bruce Fuckin' Springsteen. Granted, I've read this a few times in various reviews, but I just thought that people were confused and couldn't think of a proper reference point. Well, they were right. This album could best be described by yours truly as 20% post-Funeral-pompousness-with-more-church-organ and 80% Born To Run. Although I'm not as big a fan of The Boss as my friends Barry or Billy, I can appreciate his heart, soul and uncanny ability to make you want to nod your head and pump your fist in approval of the earnestest man in rock.

(By the way, I should point out to people who don't already know that "Born in the USA" is actually an anti-American rant. Read the lyrics sometime.)

The only song I'm really drawn to at the moment is "Intervention", as it sounds the most like the direction I wanted the band to take after their last album. Does my opinion really count? Apparently not, although other fans of the band out there might be as dumbfounded as I am, wondering where the hell their beloved went.

We can't find you now, but they're gonna get their money back somehow. And when you finally disappear, we'll just say you were never here.

Their words, not mine, both apt and tragic in their self-directed truthfulness.

And while I'm at it, the version of "No Cars Go" on their debut EP is considerably better than the one on this album.

So there.

Nevertheless, will I keep listening to Neon Bible until I'm well and truly sick of it?

You betcha.

20070305 ^up
 
no one is watching
Field Music - I'm Tired
There are two ways in which to interpret the word "tired". You're either sleepy or fed up. I'm both. As time goes on, I find myself to be increasingly detached from the world around me, and I can't really put my finger on exactly why this is happening, increasingly, at such an alarming rate.

Well, I'm tired. I should sleep for a while to be happy again.

I consider sleep to be an Olympic sport. Granted, I like to stay up late most nights, in order to increase the level of "free time" I have in between going to work, but on the weekends... damn. I could sleep the day away. It's funny how I often do a cost analysis of whether I should get up or stay in bed. Living in the city centre, there's a good chance that if I leave the flat, I'll spend money. If I just keep sleeping? Well...

Give me peace, a little quiet. I'll be happy again.

I wouldn't consider myself to be "depressed", in the traditional sense. I'm just "overly nonchalant". I like that. I'd put in on a t-shirt.

My friend Paula, aka Peej, told me once about a conversation she had with one of her friends, where the guy said that his favourite position was "in". That's a million dollar t-shirt slogan if I've ever heard one, don't you think?

It's time that I give a shout out to Peej because she has been such a considerable influence on my musical tastes over the last few years. The vast majority of the bands/songs I use in my articles can be traced back to various compilation CD's that I've been sent, and she must be smug in the fact that she knows it. See what she thinks here.

Well, I'm sad. I should laugh at myself so I'm not sad for long.

Yeah, I am rather sad, but for all the wrong reasons. I consider "sad" to be "woe is me", but I can't identify with that notion at all right now. There are plenty of people in the world who have every right to be sad, for various reasons, and I don't want to associate myself with them. My sadness is based on selfishness.

I should stop all this talk, shut my mouth and get on.

Let me explain: As much as I'd like to place my faith in people, I don't know anyone in whom I'd place my faith. I'm drawn to interesting people like a moth is drawn to a magnificent bug zapper. For those of you who are unaware of such a device, watching one is a beloved pastime of the people who live where I grew up. Problem is, I don't know any zappers out there, anyone that I'd risk my life for. Yes, in this particular analogy, I'm referring to myself as a bug. Believe me, the shoe fits.

Nevertheless, I have to say that there are very few people in the world that I really connect with, and of those people, the numbers are dwindling over time. I blame myself for that.

Well, I'm fine. I'm alright. It's just me. You should expect it by now. Just forget what I said. I was just fooling around.

Yeah, what he said.

20070301 ^up
 
Cheap by anyone's standard
The Shins - Turn On Me
It's important that I write a little bit from a more positive perspective, as I wouldn't want to give the impression that I'm incredibly melancholy and depressed. God forbid! It's not like that at all, believe you me.

You can fake it for a while, bite your tongue and smile, like every mother does an ugly child. But the stars are leaking out, like spittle from a cloud, amassed resentment counting ounce and pound.

Truth be told, I have a rather optimistic view of the world, and I'd like to think that this was apparent, particularly when people speak to me face-to-face. There is a faith that goes beyond religion, and this I have more than embraced.

I have faith in people.

You're entertaining any doubt because you had to know that I was fond of you, fond of Y-O-U, though I knew you masked your disdain. I can see that change was just too hard for us, hard for us. You always had to hold the reigns, but where I'm headed, you just don't know the way.

Of course I'm writing this for Y-O-U. Hey! Remember me?

So affections fade away, and do adults just learn to play the most ridiculous, repulsive games?

Yes, yes they do. We can't help ourselves sometimes. Games are played in order to preserve our integrity, mask our insecurities. It's often easier that way. We keep our cards close to our chests, especially when we only have a pair of threes and no aces, no chance of a full house. We'd need to mix and match for that, lay our cards on the table and put together the best possible hand. Some people say that's against the rules.

You had to know that I was fond of you, fond of Y-O-U. So I took your lips at the time, and to change like that is just so hard to do. Hard to do. The worst part is over. Now, get back on that horse and ride.

This is not a call to arms, nor a white flag of surrender. It's a postscript, a well-honed understanding of how things were and will never be again, at least not in the same capacity.

And that's OK. We can still turn up the corners of our mouths and shrug with feigned indifference. That's the way we work.

20070226 ^up
 
My brain is too busy anyway
Grandaddy - Lost On Your Merry Way
This song makes me feel slow. If you listen to it, I think you'll know what I mean. I don't mean "slow" as in "special", just in the sense that I have room to breathe, room to run with my thoughts and reach the conclusion that I never considered.

Trouble with a capital T. Tying down, they said, the tired ain't for me. Let this one fly.

About two years ago, I almost died listening to this song. Of course I mean that in both a metaphorical and a literal sense. If nothing else, I'm sure that I have severe liver damage. It happens. Sometimes with unhelpful help.

I wonder what they'll make of me, when I'm good and gone and song in God's country.

Guess what? I don't give a flying fuck what people think of me. I'm not saying that in a spoilt child sense, oh no. I mean that from the perspective of someone who has a greater understanding of his place in the world around him. By the way, I am prone to use the masculine in general commentary, refusing to use the him/her construct or the laughable "one". One is severely aware of the consequences of one's words and actions. I don't want to speak about myself in the Royal sense, even though I know how the Queen waves to her subjects.

Trouble with people like me. Tying down and then they vanish instantly. Let this one fly.

Sometimes I write as if I'm angry, but that's not the case. It's as if things suddenly become urgent, and I am possessed by the spirit of the here and now. The Ghost of Christmas Present. The voice of reason. Pepsi: the choice of a new generation.

It's really no problem you see, when the sky ignites and your days crash quietly.

At 5:05 PM GMT, on Saturday, 17 February 2007, something inside my brain physically changed. Snapped. Popped. Broke. Let's just say that I'm not the same person that I was before, for better or for worse. It's rather interesting to become a different being, all of a sudden, when you least expect it. The hospital says that there's nothing wrong with me, but I know better. Oh yes. I have been blessed with a reality shift, a change in perception. I have lost and gained focus at the same time. There's a hole in my head where brain cells used to be. It's been taken over by a swirl of electro-chemical reactions. For lack of a better word, let's just call it "transcendence".

All that I'm asking tonight is that I make it back home alive. No explosions, no crashes, no fights. I want to get back home. Back home tonight.

Home? I've always been at home, wherever and whoever I am. That's my blessing and my curse.

I can live with that.

20070226 ^up
 
Which gold is more true?
Freda Payne - Band Of Gold
Before I start, let me just say that I hate the idea of Valentine's Day, mainly because I don't like anyone telling me what to do. Or how to feel. Or what to buy. I enjoy swearing, as it allows me to make a point. Fuck this holiday.

Now that you're gone, all that's left is a band of gold. All that's left of the dreams I hold is a band of gold and the memories of what love could be if you were still here with me.

Let's get something straight: I've only been truly in love once in my life, and it backfired into the worst thing I have ever known. I am sitting on the fence as to whether or not it turned me into a jaded bastard or if it was the best experience of all time. Probably both. I have never felt more alive, and in equal measure, I wanted to kill myself. Don't get me wrong, I tried hard at both. That's real. More real than the realest real in the reality of realness.

You took me from the shelter of my mother. I had never known or loved any other. We kissed after taking vows, but that night on our honeymoon, we stayed in separate rooms.

The night we got married, we did actually stay in separate rooms. We never consummated the relationship until the next day, as it was decided by a certain someone that to have sex was "expected". We eloped. We didn't know what we were doing, although that's what we wanted to do.

So Dane, what did you do on your wedding night? Well, we went to the cinema and watched "The Truman Show". It was good.

Since you've been gone, all that's left is a band of gold.

On our wedding anniversary in October of 2005, a few weeks after the end of us, I went from Blackridge into Bathgate, the town in which we were wed. (Secretly. For us and no one else.) In one of those new age/hippie shops, I found a cube of perfect pyrite, the likes of which can only be mined in one particular place in Spain.

Pyrite is Fool's Gold. I bought it, as a present from me to you. And from you to me.

Fools, indeed. So be it!

I still miss you... grudgingly.

20070214 ^up
 
Shit, I seem to have misplaced my heart.
Bloc Party - This Modern Love
When I was at work earlier today, I had to fill out one of those personal information forms for the HR department, as I hadn't previously done so. This wasn't much of a big deal until I reached the part where I had to enter the details of my "emergency contact" person. Well, truth be told, I don't have one.

To be lost in the forest. To be cut adrift. You've been trying to reach me. You bought me a book.

Although I laughed it off at first, this has been fucking with my head all day. Sure, I have loads of friends, some of which are very close to me, but in no way would I consider them to be in the same league as a work-related emergency contact. That's supposed to be a partner/spouse, relative or anyone who would happen to know your daily whereabouts and be a point of contact if the you-know-what hits the proverbial.

This I ain't got. Should I? If not, why not? Is this something I should be attempting to remedy, and with much haste? Am I really that bothered?

Don't get offended if I seem absent minded. Just keep telling me facts and keep making me smile.

Although I haven't spoken to her in months, I ended up writing down the details for my mother-in-law. She generally has no idea if I'm alive or dead from day to day, but she's the closest thing I have to a relative in a 5000-mile radius. Besides, it's a much easier option than to deal with the embarrassment of asking someone actually close to me if they'd want to be my emergency contact.

Who is yours? Do they know? How would you feel if they were actually contacted?

What are you holding out for? What's always in the way? Why so damn absent-minded? Why so scared of romance?

One of these days, I hope to be settled enough - no, let me re-phrase that - I hope to have my mind made up about who I want closest to me, who I want to come home to, who I would write down on my future personal details forms.

This modern love breaks me.

20070206 ^up
 
I'm ok, you're ok.
of Montreal - Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse
As far as I'm concerned, this is the best fucking song on the planet right now. I cannot stress this enough. Let's dance!

I'm in a crisis, I need help! Come on mood shift, shift back to good again! Come on be a friend!

Seriously, I would love for this to be Number 1 in the charts, getting played in discos all over the UK. Nay, all over the world. Let's dance!

Nina Twin is trying to help, and I really hope that she succeeds! Though I picked the thorny path myself, I'm afraid, afraid of where it leads!

One would surely be under the impression that a surrealistic, pop-tastic, artsy-fartsy, out-of-their-minds-for-what-seems-like-years-now band like of Montreal would never want to be in the spotlight of the general populace, but fuck it. This little ditty is da bomb. Or Das Boot. Either way... Let's dance!

Chemicals, don't strangle my pen! Chemicals don't make me sick again! I'm always so dubious of your intent, like I can't afford to replace what you've spent!

Contrary to popular belief, I love to dance. Generally, there seems to be a direct correlation between alcohol consumption and my ability to cut loose and kick off my Sunday shoes. Chemicals? Whatever. I don't need anything when listening to this megadose of audio ecstasy. This song is a chemical! This song is phonopornographic! Let's get naked! Let's dance!

C'mon chemicals! C'mon chemicals!

Do you want to dance as well? Download this electro-pop gem from our good friends at Polyvinyl Records right here.

Nina Twin is trying to help, and I really hope she gets me straight 'cause my own inner cosmology has become too dense to navigate!

Are you dancing? Why not? Do you feel the beat yet? That's it... that's it... here we go! Let's dance!

Chemicals, don't flatten my mind! Chemicals, don't mess me up this time! Know you bait me way more than you should! And it's just like you to hurt me when I'm feeling good!

Do you want to dance to more of Montreal goodness? Stream their new album here. Do it! For the kids!

C'mon chemicals! C'mon chemicals!

I can't even be bothered writing my usual self-indulgent crap just so I can use the feel-good song of the year as an obscure point of reference in an attempt to explain my current idiotic frame of mind.

There's no time! Let's fucking dance!

20070130 ^up
 
fire: works
Death Cab For Cutie - The New Year
I can't imagine that there's a better song for me to use at this point in time, although I am annoyed with myself for being so obvious. I'll pick something more tenuous next time. Promise.

So this is the new year, and I don't feel any different. The clanking of crystal, explosions off in the distance.

Ok, it's another year, and things are going rather well for me, I must admit. To believe that we need to become different people between the end of December and the beginning of January is a load of absolute bullshit. Let's not even go there.

So this is the new year, and I have no resolutions for self-assigned penance, for problems with easy solutions.

Do I actually want to make any resolutions? Not at all. Do I need to? Well, maybe. It would be a good idea to get fit, stop drinking so much, blah blah blah, but is there any point? Speaking of which, I only learned a few years ago that "blah blah blah" is actually a French phrase that spread to us English-speakers. Who would've thunk it? However, I digress...

The truly beautiful idea put forward at the beginning of a new year is that we can start afresh, as if we've just stepped out of confession, without having to confess a damn thing... even though we sure do have a lot of confessing to do. I believe that the Catholics get off easy in regards to this, as we should actually be spilling our guts to those who know us best, ready to accept the shame and ridicule that we rightly deserve.

My biggest problem is that I feel like such a fake at times. Granted, I am who I am, and I'd like to think that those around me accept me as such, but I can't help feeling guilty about the things only I know about myself. We all probably share an element of this, and I guess that's OK. One of the main reasons I started writing these articles was to be more honest about who I am, as well as to share my viewpoints on various topics. The latter has been somewhat achieved, but I can't say the same for the former.

So everybody put your best suit or dress on. Let's make believe that we are wealthy for just this once.

Surely we all want to present ourselves to the world as compassionate, understanding, worthwhile human beings, capable of giving and receiving love and affection. Capable of being the best damn person we can be.

I beat myself up more than anyone ever could. Ever. And then I simply forget about it just as easily. It goes in cycles.

Lighting firecrackers off on the front lawn, as thirty dialogues bleed into one.

We all talk a load of shite sometimes, and that's perfectly fine. I noticed recently that I laugh a lot when I speak to certain people, even when things aren't funny, just to make them feel more at ease with me. I'd hate to think that this was being picked up, although I don't do it intentionally. We all just want to be liked. To say that you don't is blasphemy in the eyes of what it means to be a socially-conscious person. If you don't want to be liked/loved, you might as well dig a six-foot hole and jump in. You don't deserve to be among the living.

I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map. No more airplanes, or speedtrains, or freeways. There'd be no distance that can hold us back.

My plan for 2007 is to see more of the world than I already have, not so I can tell people that I've been to X or Y (a totally pointless endeavour) but because I want to challenge my concept of reality. I'm so damn Westernized that it's pathetic. Further to that, I want to connect in a better way with my close friends and family. I've been living on the fringes for too long now, and I only hope that I can salvage something with those who mean so much to me, even though I never tell them. I don't tell anyone, but that's going to change.

I can be more than the person inside my head.

20070104 ^up
 
fractal geometry in nature
Sun Kil Moon - Neverending Math Equation
This is my favourite time of year, not just because I get to wear nice winter clothes and stop sweating all the damn time due to my overactive metabolism... but because of the trees. All of the deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter and let us see what they look like naked. Of course, I think it's sexy.

I’m the same as I was when I was 6 years old, and oh my God I feel so damn old. I don’t really feel anything.

When I was a kid, my dad got a camera and became Mr Photography. He wasn't anywhere near professional, and he didn't have much of an eye for framing the subject "with the artistic gaze" and all that jazz, but he did find the camera to be a useful device for capturing the present. For posterity. For the future.

He seemed to be obsessed with dead trees, the types that have no leaves in the middle of summer and stick out like a sore thumb. I remember him stopping the car on a few occasions when he came across these visible ghosts, jumping out and taking their portrait. There is a beauty in being different, and I could see it back then. I see it now.

Each day on the train to and from Edinburgh, I am blown away by the fine specimens of naked trees in the countryside, all rugged, worn and fractal. Self-similar. Organic. A perfect example of life in the dead of winter.

The universe works on a math equation that never even ever really even is any end. Infinity spirals out creation. We’re on the tip of it’s tongue.

A tree sans leaves resembles the human circulatory system or our nervous system. It's how living things grow, and it's not a coincidence. It's mathematics. It's a function. We are simply complex functions.

We surely have much to learn from DNA encoding, nature's basic method of encrypting an unbelievable amount of data in a relatively small package. Deep down, we're just numbers. All of us. Nothing more, nothing less.

I don't find this to be a school of thought that is in any way linked to despair. It's just logical. It just makes sense. I find comfort in that, and I'd like to believe that others would as well.

The plants and the animals, they are linked, and the plants and the animals eat each other.

All of this is what I think about every time I look at those naked trees, standing proud and majestic. I understand the truth of being alive and that all organisms share in this miracle.

Fucking awesome.

It's not necessarily a case of survival of the fittest but survival of the function that works.

By the way, I am fully aware that Sun Kil Moon are doing a cover of a Modest Mouse song, but their version is considerably better. The fact that it's a reinterpretation, a mutation, a branch, makes the song an even better choice for this article.

My current work is based on recursive functions, and a lot of things are becoming very clear. One day, I'll figure it out. All of it.

20061229 ^up
 
to write is to shite
Cursive - Art Is Hard
God forbid if one were to believe that writing is pleasurable in any way, shape or form! It's a labourious process of concentrated, introspective thought coupled with unscrupulous editing. Art, as they say, is indeed hard.

Cut it out! Your self-inflicted pain is getting too routine. The crowds are catching on to the self-inflicted song.

I stopped writing articles a couple of months ago because I found myself consumed by what it meant to be the year anniversary of when Alexis died. Everything that I wrote seemed too personal, too pathetic and mainly too contrived to share with the world. Did I actually feel these things or did I just want to emote?

You've got to repeat it. You gotta sink to swim.

I was contacted by several people regarding Alexis, either to offer condolences one year on or to tell me that they had actually only found out that she had died. Either way, I couldn't bring myself to reply to anyone after the first, so I stopped checking my email and effectively didn't contact anyone. I ran away.

If at first you don't succeed, you gotta recreate your misery 'cause we all know art is hard. Young artists have gotta starve!

It sickens me to think that I use the memory of my dead wife as a muse, in order to generate a current statement of who I am. When she was still around, most of the songs I wrote were about how much we couldn't stand each other. One in particular, Real Men Are Made of Tin, pretty much slated her completely with lines such as "please remember to go fuck yourself every now and then". Funnily enough, it was one of her favourites.

Oh, a second verse! Well, color me fatigued. I'm hiding in the leaves in the CD jacket sleeves, tired of entertaining some double-dipped meaning, a soft-serve analogy. This drunken angry slur in thirty-one flavors.

When we first met, I wrote sappy love songs for Alexis, then as the years went on I penned songs filled with so much vitriol that people surely flinched at the very obvious lyrical content. About a year ago when all the shit went down, I found myself viewing the past through rose-tinted glasses, and everything was beautiful once again. One year on, I know better. I can see everything for what it was and what it is, and for that I don't feel in the least bit bad.

You gotta sink to swim, immerse yourself in rejection, regurgitate some sorry tale about a boy who sells his love affairs. You gotta fake the pain! You better make it sting!

I now have a more holistic view of the past, and I don't want to talk about that shit anymore. This article is both an apology and a closing parenthesis to an aside that has lost an audience as well as an orator.

You gotta sink to swim, impersonate greater persons, 'cause we all know art is hard when we don't know who we are.

Well, I know who I am, and art sure as hell isn't hard. I guess now I can attempt to put the fun back into writing. Maybe I should have bought one of those pencils...

20061202 ^up
 
DJ :/ in da house!
The Shins - New Slang
Call me DJ :/ (or for those few out there who can't see an emoticon for what it is, DJ ColonSlash). Welcome to my party. This is my document. This is my expression. This is what I want to convey about who I am and what I want to be.

Gold teeth and a curse for this town were all in my mouth. Only, I don't know how they got out, dear.

The latest issue of New Scientist, volume 191 number 2569, has several articles surrounding "The Cult of Us", the new online culture. We're connected. We're blogging. We're spilling our guts to strangers. We don't give a shit. OK, so maybe the last bit is simply my take on the matter, but it's a good place to start. I'm tired of keeping up the pretense of adult/man/lover/worker/tax-payer. I'd really like to think that I was more than that, and to realize this, I need to let go and just be honest with myself and those around me. Things simply get easier that way. I'm all for that.

Turn me back into the pet that I was when we met. I was happier then with no mind-set.

If anyone were to ask me, I'd swear up and down that this wasn't a blog. I believe my previous words were "autobiographical mix tape", and I'll stand by that. First and foremost, I love sharing music with people, especially the bands and songs that I think can really make an impact on your psyche.

Take for instance the song I've chosen for this article. Yes, I write 'articles', not 'entries'. Humour me. This is a great song, and although it was released about 5 years ago, I only just discovered it. That's the beauty of good music. It's timeless. If The Beach Boys were formed at the turn of this century, I believe they would sound like this. It also fits well into my current ramblings about the new and future world. It's so apparent that I don't even need to explain myself. :) :( :/

And if you'd 'a took to me like a gull takes to the wind. Well, I'd 'a jumped from my tree and I'd a danced like the king of the eyesores, and the rest of our lives would 'a fared well.

This photo was taken of graffiti on the sidewalk down in the West End side of Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow. I stopped in my tracks because this is, by far, my favourite emoticon. It's supposed to signify 'unsure', but to me it means 'happysad', just like the songs that I love the most. I don't know how common this is, but I'd like to think that anyone who actually reads these articles goes out and finds the songs attached to them, by either legal or illegal means. Every time I write about a song, I play it on repeat, in order to appropriately link what I write to the music and the lyrics. No one tells me to do this. I just want to. Once again, humour me.

New slang when you notice the stripes, the dirt in your fries. Hope it's right when you die, old and bony.

I'd like to think that whatever bullshit I write gets stored as data somewhere on some server, ready to be viewed and ridiculed by friends, relatives and employers in the future. That's one of the ideas presented by New Scientist. We just don't know what effect this is going to have. What happens when you do a web search for "Dane Stewart"? Thanks to Google, you'll end up here, where I use my ubiquitous namespace real estate to talk a load of crap. Would you want to be my friend? Would you want to date me? Would you want to hire me? You should see my CV (resumé) these days. In the 'Interests' section, I write: "I have a strong interest in theoretical mathematics, with particular emphasis on prime numbers, fractal geometry and infinite series. I appreciate fine Belgian beer, people with an understated wit and fresh snow." I got a job back in June after just two days of putting my CV out there, and it pains me to think that it was based on experience alone, not because of these particular lines. Oh well.

This is me, right here. I write most of these articles when I'm drunk. When I'm at my most honest. I'm drunk now.

I'm looking in on the good life I might be doomed never to find. Without a trust or flaming fields am I too dumb to refine? And if you'd 'a took to me like, well I'd a danced like the queen of the eyesores, and the rest of our lives would 'a fared well.

This song is on repeat. This song is on repeat. This song is on repeat.

20060918 ^up
 
tattone + tattone = tattwo
Mates of State - Think Long
I got a tattoo. As much as I want to downplay the whole thing and maintain a suitable air of cool, I'm actually incredibly pleased with myself every time I look at it. As some of the previous postings have more than hinted at, I am rather obsessed with the philosophy of theoretical mathematics. The square root of negative one, the imaginary number, is a concept that is a pivotal aspect of some of the most beautiful ideas out there. (Beauty/Eye/Beholder. Bear that in mind.)

On our picture shelves, statues mocking me. Tell me how am I supposed to feel? How am I not put at ease?

We all need some kind of focus in our lives, otherwise General Apathy will win the war, and then we might as well not even get up in the morning. Don't get me wrong, I love spending quality time in my bed, being asleep, enjoying the gift known as dreaming. It's better than bad. It's good.

Talk yourself to sleep. Fall into it deep. I will wash off mine with rolling waves of worry. Hey hey, it doesn't have to feel so wrong.

This tattoo, this symbol, isn't a focus of my life, but it does remind me of several important things I don't want to forget. I was going to just tie a thread around my finger, in the old school fashion, but this stylistic subcutaneous ink method works better for me. Maybe it's not necessarily about a fear of forgetting but one of losing focus. Knowing that something is there, just refusing to acknowledge it, is surely worse than forgetting altogether.

Bless these tangled veins. None of which will grow the same. Now am I supposed to fake it?

Thinking comes before learning, before understanding. In my spare time, I think a lot, with the hope of making sense of the universe around me, trying to not get caught up in it. Also making sure it doesn't pass me by.

Everything in moderation. Go for the gold. Stop and smell the roses. Variety is the spice of life. Drink plenty of water. All you need is love. 3.1415926...

Think long. Think think long. Think think.

20060827 ^up
 
I C U
What Oban means to me: A Memoir
Dear Jessie,

I am here. I'm pretty sure I always will be. This last weekend was spent in Oban with my girlfiend. It was nice. Really nice.

Oban is a small town on the West Coast of Scotland. I'm convinced that all homes consider themselves to be guest houses. It makes me think about how kids have grown up in the area and can't wait to get out. There's nothing there, only the things that you know inside and out. One day, a visitor arrives and checks into a local B&B.

"Wow. This place is amazing. It's civilization, but just enough off the beaten track to make me feel like it's the Wild West. I can do anything here. I can become who I want to be here."

The kid leaves town, looking for something new, something different. He wants to find the place where things start to make sense. The place where he can be challenged and welcomed and seen and forgotten about. It's the place where he can be visible and invisible all at the same time.

The kid can't even begin to understand the thoughts of the man who just moved into town, after a handful of peaceful visits. The man who wants to start afresh, get to know his neighbors. Maybe take up painting.

"I could start a band. Maybe let a few of the choice locals listen to my vast record collection. Someone is going to understand. Hell, someone is going to introduce me to something new. I might just like it. Bagpipes? Sure. I can dig that. At least, now I can."

The kid can't even begin to see the similarities between him and the new kid in town. The kid who is only different from him in terms of years and body hair and experience. Not simply types of experiences but experiences of experiences. The instances where quantity is sometimes more beneficial than quality. There's no appreciation of quality unless there is sufficient amount of quantity.

You have to take the good with the bad. There are ups and there are downs. The theory of relativity.

Einstein had a lot of good ideas. I find it amazing how we accept his theories as truth. They exist. They happen. We're not just agreeing with his notions, his views. He just pointed something out to us that was always there.

Was it? Is it? He's a good storyteller. He was able to take the Lego building blocks of physics and mathematics and go to the next level. The obvious. To him. Therefore, to us. He believed it. Whole-fucking-heartedly. Sometimes I wish I wore a hat so that I could tip it. In acknowledgement. In reverence. In acceptance.

"I like what you've done with the place."

"Have you bought or are you renting?"

"Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly."

The kid didn't even consider Einstein coming into the equation.

"What? You mean E=mc2? I don't give a shit about that."

The visitor is now a local. He runs a B&B, serving breakfast to people on holiday from France. People who came here because it looked nice in a brochure. It looked like an experience.

"If I go there, I'll experience the real heart of Scotland. I'm homing in on where I can get the biggest bang for my buck."

The visitor/local now has his paintings being shown in the local art dealer's shop. He can earn just enough to get by, just enough to make trips into the city or back home to see the people that mean the world to him. The people that mean so much that he can't afford to spend the vast majority of his time with them. It's all about delayed gratification, isn't it?

"I want to savor it."

The kid is already bored by this whole story. He's not the main character, so what's the point? One day soon, sooner than he thinks, the veil of mystery will fall from his face and he'll understand that he's seen the future. He's seen himself. Older and wiser. At peace. Ready to move forward, with confidence, for the first time.

Much love,
Dane

20060710 ^up
 
give it to me: baby
Weezer - Tired of Sex
True. Oh so true. How long have I been wanting to write an entry based on this song?

I'm tired, so tired. I'm tired of having sex. I'm spread so thin, I don't know who I am.

I love sex. It's probably one of the best things that humans have going for them. Sure, all animals have sex, but as homosapiens, we have the mental ability to turn something basic into something amazing, beyond the primal. Something more than what it is.

Imagine you were a tongue with a limited number of taste buds or eyes with only so many cones and rods, a finger with one solitary touch receptor. Sad. Very sad. We have the luxury to experience an event with gusto. Physical, mental and emotional. It rocks our very core. It's actually the reason we are here. I've been invited to the club. Dane plus guest. Cheers.

Sex is the best possible vice that we could have. It's the only one that is not ultimately selfish and self-destructive. At the end of the day, something good could possibly come out of it.

Monday night I'm makin' Jen. Tuesday night I'm makin' Lynn. Wednesday night I'm makin' Catherine. Oh, why can't I be makin' love come true?

The problem we have is that we want this experience to be with the best possible person. The one who "gets it", the one who would, if luck would deem it so, be the best parent, the best teacher of the next generation. I often consider myself to be terrible at explaining things, terrible at conveying the ideals which I feel are important. I am just the man behind the curtain. Do what I say, not what I do. I know better. Mimicry is disallowed because I'll only lead you astray. I'm just a man. Men are flawed from the onset. However, what men are required to do is find someone who can run the show when we're gone. Someone who will act on our behalf. Act like us. Better than us. Vote by proxy.

I'm beat, beet red, ashamed of what I said. I'm sorry, here I go. I know I'm a sinner, but I can't say no.

No matter what I may say or do, I don't want to experience these feelings, these powerful emotions, with just anyone. Imagine a Cartesian plane, separated into four sections of the x-y graph. We have four possible combinations: ++, +-, -+ and --. I want to have ++. If you accept anything less than this, you don't deserve to be alive.

Thursday night I'm makin' Denise. Friday night I'm makin' Sharise. Saturday night I'm makin' Louise. Oh, why can't I be makin' love come true?

Please note that Rivers Cuomo never mentions what he's doing on Sunday night. Either he's remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy or he's like Craig David and chillin'. Both are acceptable in my book.

Tonight, I'm down on my knees. Tonight I'm beggin' you please. Tonight, tonight, please! Oh, why can't I be makin' love come true?

There exists something beyond true and false: choice.

20060703 ^up
 
this is puddledub
Built to Spill - Else
I just got back from a two-week vacation in good ol' South Carolina. Sure, I know that I was there, but now all I'm left with are memories which make me feel like I wasn't actually taking part, just watching and running on auto-pilot. I've been thinking a lot about memories over the last 48 hours, and I blame that on having read The Time Traveler's Wife from start to finish whilst in flight and sitting around in airports. It's good. It's sad. It's life.

Finally I don't mind worthless tries at finding something else. Best not talk too loud. You're not as smart as you require of them.

There seem to be three things I can associate with past, present and future, and these are memories, actions and dreams. The fact that I place 'dreams' as my future, rather than 'inevitabilities' would suggest that I am an optimist, and that assumption would be correct. In effect, I am a realistic optimist, if a label would be required. One good thing this book has done, other than make me cry every 10 pages, is to point out that we all have the ability to travel through time whenever we want. Would I like to relive something from my past? Grab a memory. Do I want to see my future? Hell, plan it and make it a dream. Steer yourself in the direction of dreams and your present day actions will take you there. Damn! I sound like a fucking Successories poster. Granted, there are other forms of causality out there other than your personal actions, but that's where adaptation comes in. Roll with the punches. Lemons and lemonade and all that.

Your body breaks. Your needs consume you forever, and with this lies the need to be here together.

As much as I don't want to bring up Alexis all of the time, I find it impossible to comment on any aspect of what's going on in my life without thinking about her and what happened. There is a massive amount of guilt associated with my moving on after her untimely death. I've effectively been handed a relatively clean slate to live the rest of my life as I see fit, and that's a hard thing to accept.

Funny thing with blood. You try to stand but neither leg's awake.

Etre ou pas etre, that is the question. I want to be because I am. One day, I'll only be someone else's memory, and I'm OK with that because there was a point in time when I got to experience what it is to be alive. The present is a gift, indeed. It's just that some of us forget to unwrap it, out of fear or, perhaps, apathy.

Just this side of love is where you'll find the confidence not to continue.

If we do live in a boolean universe - yes or no, on or off, black or white, right or wrong - then I'm fine with that because I have a logical mind. Of course I do, as nature is surely nothing more than an apparently chaotic logic. We just haven't figured it out. There's no surprise there, if we can't even figure ourselves out yet.

20060603 ^up
 
written and identified with
The New Pornographers - Falling Through Your Clothes
This is graffiti that I wrote on the wall of a Prague strip club I was hanging out in a couple of weeks ago. I don't do strip clubs. It goes without saying that my mind was on mathematics more than sex, as these girls were simply doing nothing for me. My tastes are more refined.

Pinwheel spark break loose and roll. Where you stop, nobody knows.

I've been somewhat obsessed with Euler's Identity (pronounced Oiler's) equation for some time now, and instead of writing "Dane wuz here 2006", I figured that this would be more thought-provoking and/or annoying for the drunken gawkers.

Just a thought but gone down. It's been carved into a point, understand.

I'm in the process of writing a paper about a new way of viewing the negative numbers. In effect, I believe that we actually have what I have coined 'dominant' and 'recessive' negatives. All of us are aware of the dominant negatives, as this is our current notion of negativity. In effect, -2 multiplied by 3 equals -6. The negative is dominant, as it has the ability in multiplication to convert the solution to less than zero. So, how about the imaginary numbers? How the hell do we get the square root of a negative number? I'm glad you asked.

Run run run. Deep breath, then jump.

Czech this out: Numbers can also be recessively negative, and a simple notation for this would be 1_, which is effectively the same as the square root of -1. By this, I mean that 1_ multiplied by itself is -1, which is the same as squaring the square root of -1. We end up with a new way of defining i, the constant for imaginary numbers, so that it is nothing more than a multiplicative aspect of 1. We're still dealing with basic numbers here, but just as i cannot mix with the real numbers with regards to addition, the same applies here. However, multiplication is allowable. Apply this logic to the unit circle on the complex plane, and it works. You end up with 1, 1_, -1, -1_ and then back to 1. Excellenté.

Turned into someone that you only know when you're falling through your clothes.

I really like this song because it makes me feel drunk/stoned without having to take anything. Now that's good music. I'm going to see The New Pornographers on Thursday, along with Mates of State. It'll be a great night. Word.

20060515 ^up
 
witnessed and identified with
Ben Folds Five - Mess
Well, I've done it. I've started re-using artists in my autobiographical-mix-tape-style diatribes, but when it comes to lyrics, I can't think of anyone better than Ben Folds. Sure, I have a major appreciation for Conor Oberst, but Ben has the experience behind him, so I know that he knows, you know?

There was a time when I had nothing to explain. Oh, this mess I have made. But then things got complicated, my innocence has all but faded. Oh, this mess I have made.

I'm old enough to know better, that's for sure. What have I done this time? Nothing and everything. Today marks exactly 6 months since Alexis died. It was 10/10, a day that I will never be able to forget. The 10th of October used to be my favourite date of the year, and it's my friend Bill's birthday. He once told me that it's easy to remember because 1010 in binary equals 10 in decimal. I love that shit. When he told me, you should have seen the look on my face. I'm rather easily amused when it comes to numbers. Sometimes I don't know if I'm a number theorist or an over-excited numerologist.

And I don't believe in God, so I can't be saved. All alone, as I've learned to be, in this mess I have made.

If God is indeed out there, I wish he/she/it would fuck off. I'm not your Job, and I'm not here to be tested. I'm not doing my time in the desert to be broken, to finally "get it". I've unmade this bed, and now I'll lie in it. Lie about it. Sleep in it and die. However, I don't plan on doing that anytime soon, so don't you worry. I'll stay alive to spite you. Oh yes, I'm capable of that. Only the good die young.

All the untested virtue, the things I said I'd never do, least of all to you.

My biggest fear is hurting people. I always start off with the best of intentions. An old friend of mine once wrote to me that there aren't good people, only good intentions. I agree, wholeheartedly. To hurt someone is often inevitable but never intentional, at least as far as I'm concerned. If anything, I suffer from an affliction that makes me want to ensure that everyone is happy, but that ideology is fundamentally flawed. Well, not necessarily everyone, but the people I come across in my life who deserve it, who deserve to be loved and cared about and made to feel special. I sound like an emotional slut. Maybe I am.

I have made the same mistakes over and over again.

When it comes to relationships, I'm hit and miss. I guess we all are. I'm just far too willing to jump in head first and forget about the consequences or even the future. I live for the moment, and I go with what feels right at the time. When the time changes, so do my feelings. I can't help it.

There are rooms in this house that I don't open anymore. Dusty books and pictures on the floor that she will never see. She'll never see that part of me. I want to be for her what I could never be for you.

Most people think that the R.E.M. song "The One I Love" is a love song, but I'm afraid it's not. Just look at the lyrics: "This one goes out to the one I love. This one goes out to the one I left behind. A simple prop, to occupy my time. This one goes out to the one I love." This isn't exactly roses and butterflies material, but maybe we just want to think the best about any given situation. We fill in the blanks ourselves and make our own interpretations.

But I don't believe in love, so I can't be tamed. All alone, as I've learned to be, in this mess I have made.

Funny thing is, I do believe in love, and I believe in a love that is all-encompassing, a love that never dies. I know this because I have had it. I have it now. Nothing can ever take that away from me. Nothing. I consider myself lucky.

20060410 ^up
 
time to put my feet up for a bit
Owls - Everyone Is My Friend
I handed in my resignation at work this week. Why? It's not as if my job is that difficult. I get to sit at a desk and stare into a computer screen and use my brain to think of the best possible ways to manipulate data. OK, that does sound rather depressing. My official job title is Software Development Manager, however, I prefer Data Monkey. My company pays me a damn good wage to be a Data Monkey. I've been there for three years. My last day will be 5th May. Too bad it wasn't in 2005, as the date would have been 05/05/05. I'm happy with 05/05 though. It just makes sense.

I know what I have to do and do it. I know what I have to do and do it, but I don't know what it is until it's done.

I've stayed in this job for two main reasons. The first, obviously, is the cash. Other than that, it's because I quite like some of the people I work with. They are, for all intents and purposes, my friends. Work is where we spend a great deal of our waking hours. Colleagues are a bit like family, in that you can't pick 'em. Well, that's not necessarily true when you have the ability to hire and fire, but the workplace is a hodgepodge of people you wouldn't normally hang out with. That's actually a good thing.

I've been inventing you, and I continue inventing you.

When starting a new job, you have the ability to wipe the slate and, if you feel the need, create a new image, a new persona. Sometimes we do it without even realising. Maybe we just want to live up to our job spec and try our best not to get rumbled about any skills or experience we may be lacking. Funny thing is, I've never needed to lie to get a job, even though I'm one of the biggest pathological liars out there. Yes, pathological. I'm cool with that. Others generally aren't.

The mirage will fade as it unfolded.

So, why do I want to leave a safe, comfortable, well-paid job where I am generally liked and respected? Damn good question. No easy answer. Do I have another job lined up? No. Have I actually thought this whole thing through? Sure. I need to roll the dice. I need to shed my skin. Above all, I need to learn how to give myself a kick up the ass and stop relying on others to do so. In a nutshell, I guess I need to actually grow up and take control of my life, rather than complaining about crap that I really have the power to fix. Complaining is a major sign of complacency. I'm sick of feeling defeated. I need to shut up and just do it. Nike.

May we all make it home safely. May we all make it home safely.

20060408 ^up
 
the kids love to drink
The Arcade Fire - Wake Up
"Dane, you need to wake up and sort yourself out."

That was all that my friend Ben was saying from across the room, over and over, as I slowly opened my eyes and tried to figure out who/what/when/where/how I was. My first realisation was that I was lying in the bathroom floor of my Berlin hotel room. How the hell did I end up here?

"Dane, you need to wake up and sort yourself out."

That's when I noticed the smell. I tried to lift my head and glanced at my chest. It was covered in vomit. I lifted my head a bit more and saw that I was naked, lying in a massive pool of my own shit and piss.

Somethin' filled up my heart with nothin'. Someone told me not to cry.

Ben thought that I was dead. With the way I felt, I guess at that time I wish I were. The details of the previous night were a blur, but I knew that I had witnessed some David Lynch-esque moments in an anything goes kind of club, none of which could top what I was experiencing at that point in time. I had reached a new personal low.

Now that I'm older, my heart's colder, and I can see that it's a lie.

Alcohol poisons us. Sometimes we forget that. I had drank so much that my body simply gave up, but miraculously, it didn't let go completely. I laugh about it now, but this experience literally scares the shit out of me.

Children wake up. Hold your mistake up.

The reason I'm writing about all of this is because I was out last night. It was pay day. Everyone was getting drunk, including me. Once again, the night ended with my head in the toilet, doing my best to get that poison back out of my body. I spent the entire day in bed, only getting up for a hour in the afternoon to try and eat something, then I slept again until 11 PM. What a waste. April Fool's Day indeed.

If the children don't grow up, our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up. We're just a million little gods causing rain storms, turning every good thing to rust.

Why do I drink? Well, getting drunk feels good. Scratch that. Getting tipsy feels good, but being drunk sucks. If I were completely honest, I enjoy the altering of my mental state. Why is reality such a bad place to be?

I guess we'll just have to adjust.

At this moment in time, I don't want to drink another drop in my life, but I know that simply won't happen. I'm too weak, and the social aspect of drinking in Scotland is far too great. Does that sound like an excuse? Probably.

"Dane, you need to wake up and sort yourself out."

Yeah, I know.

20060402 ^up
 
even the tall look up to others
Modest Mouse - The World At Large
I was sitting in a pub in Edinburgh one Saturday a couple of months ago, having my second pint of Hoegaarden, when I noticed a black guy out the window. As you know, Scotland is pretty much white, so those of African decent are easily spotted. This guy was happy. One could see that at 100 metres, along with the fact that he was surely a tourist. He was standing in front of the Omni Centre, admiring a modern art steel sculpture of two giraffes, with the smaller one glancing up to the larger one. I believe it's made from various bits of old cars. The guy was taking photos. He was smiling.

I like songs about drifters - books about the same. They both seem to make me feel a little less insane. Walked on off to another spot. I still haven't gotten anywhere that I want. Did I want love? Did I need to know? Why does it always feel like I'm caught in an undertow?

Every minute or so, he'd stop someone and ask them to take a photo of him in front of the giraffes. People would stop but they must have not been interested in taking a decent photo because the guy would look at what they had taken and ask someone else moments later to take another.

I didn't know what I had that day. Walk a little farther to another plan. You said that you did, but you didn't understand.

Finally, a film crew came by, and when the guy saw their massive camera, I guess he knew he'd found someone who could properly capture the photo he had in his mind's eye. He was right. One guy in the crew was more than happy to take the photo, and even more so, happy to take the time. He did something that the other half-assed photographers never did: He turned the camera on its side, in order to capture both the man and the tops of the giraffes. Upon looking at the result, the guy was very much pleased, and he went on his way. I smiled.

I know that starting over is not what life's about, but my thoughts were so loud I couldn't hear my mouth. My thoughts were so loud I couldn't hear my mouth. My thoughts were so loud.

I'm smiling now.

20060330 ^up
 
did she?
The Flaming Lips - Do You Realize??
The first time that I really paid any attention to this song is when I read about a comedian in the Edinburgh Festival a couple of years ago who had based his entire routine around the concepts presented in the lyrics. Sure, I had the album, which I liked a lot, but this song had never really struck a chord with me until I saw the words in a newspaper.

Do you realize that you have the most beautiful face?

I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm the most attractive person in the world, but I'm not that bad. There have been studies that show how we tend to be attracted to those who have similar features. In effect, we fall in love with people that look like us. Well... kinda, in whatever sense that we come to understand how people can look like other people. If nothing else, I would say that we put a lot of emphasis on eyes. They're apparently the windows to the soul, whatever that means. With that said, I can easily recognize "smart eyes" and "dumb eyes", but I wouldn't be able to explain it in words.

Do you realize we're floating in space?

I read an article today in some type of scientific journal about the common idea that our solar system may be governed by the same laws which define atoms. Whatever. I'll take for granted that Earth is held in the orbit of the sun, due to the forces of gravity. I'll also be more than willing to accept that that North-South representation of the world is totally skewed, and I'm stuck to Earth in the sense that I don't know what "up" really means. Fair enough. As for the idea of "floating", I would say that were moving in a trajectory, which isn't the same as floating. Next.

Do you realize that everyone you know, someday, will die?

Up until recently, I would probably say no. Death is the thing of which we cannot speak. Of which we cannot think. To die is to not exist, and to be non-existent is to not be within our scope of reality. A person exists, just like you or me. For a person to be here, yet NOT be here, is something that takes some getting used to. A person is "here" because we think they are. Anything else is surely nothing more than folly.

On a separate note, I would have to say that I do indeed recongize the fact that we all will die. It's like that old saying that the only things that are certain in life are birth and death. And taxes. When I'm dead, will I really care? From a here-and-now point of view, I would be pissed off if I didn't accomplish the things I wanted to achieve or if I didn't reach my "logical conclusion", whatever that may be. However, for a person who is dead, is there any consideration of the living life? If there is an afterlife, then is there some form of epiphany that makes a soul come to terms with the illogical reckoning of what it meant to be alive in this world as we know it?

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know you realize that life goes fast. It's hard to make the good things last.

Like most of us, I am more apt to remember the handful of terrible things which have happened to me in my life, rather than the millions of remarkable things I have experienced. I just don't think we're programmed for long-term satisfaction. Further to that, I wouldn't say that I'm likely to tell people what they mean to me all the time. Sure, I'll say it once or twice, on occasion, but it's as if certain things lose meaning if repeated ad inifinitum. Take for instance, "I love you". I'm of the ilk that these words should only be used when meant, not when they are expected or in response to similar notions.

You realize the sun doesn't go down. It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.

OK, I'll agree with that. However, the word "illusion" makes me question everything else that I have mentioned previously. Damn, I can't help it.

20060215 ^up
 
up close and personal
Rainer Maria - Tinfoil
Goddamnit! I'm not talking about my heart like it's something you could break.

It must be difficult for a band like Rainer Maria, who have been around for about 10 years, to know deep down that the first song on their first album is their most popular. It's as if the rest of their material is good, great even, but it'll never quite match the power and eloquence of this particular objet d'art. It must also be equally as difficult to comprehend that people never change, and no matter how big of an asshole they become, you can't help but think about how they were in the very beginning. When I think about Alexis now, my fondest memories are those in the our first year together. I rarely ever dwell on the horrible times, which had a much longer duration, right up to when she died.

There's no convincing you I'm not sick.

Ok, so maybe people do grow and learn and become totally different over time, but whenever you meet someone and grow to love them, you can't change that ever again. You may come to hate them, or you become indifferent to them. Of course, indifference is the opposite of love, not hate. Hate is a strong emotion. Hate can fill our hearts just as much as love. Hell, we often love the ones we hate and vice-versa. I'm speaking from experience. Nevertheless, once you love someone, you always will. You tuck that person into the little box labelled "the people I love", and nothing can ever take them out. If that's the case, then what is love? And how can you think that you love someone when your actions and feelings don't match up?

When I say "heart", nothing comes to mind.

Rainer Maria played a very intimate gig in Glasgow back in November, and I'm proud that say that I was part of it. There was no stage. I was right up front, sitting cross-legged in front of them, rocking back and forth like an autistic kid on crack, singing my head off. It was fantastic. Probably the best live performance I've ever witnessed. This was the last song they played, and it blew my little cotton socks off. I think I almost cried. Almost. It could have been because of the sweat in my eyes.

Goddamnit! I'm not talking about my heart like it's a tinfoil valentine.

We're coming up to Valentine's Day, of course. My thoughts on the matter are that this day is a totally pathetic excuse for people who don't give a shit about each other to pretend that they do. The whole thing is forced, and that which is forced is very much false. People in love have Valentine's Day every day. Girl, you know it's true.

Call an ambulance. I don't want to walk home alone.

That's how I feel. That line sums it up perfectly, and in so many ways, it always has.

20060210 ^up
 
i can't see what i've already foreseen
Bright Eyes - I Believe In Symmetry
For a person who is generally untidy (without being dirty), I put a lot of emphasis on symmetry. I don't clean. I make neat piles. It's aesthetically pleasing for me when things are lined up, whatever they may be. I'm obsessed with the idea of 1/2. From an integer-only point of view, it's simply 1 divided by 2. The solution is a concept of something that exists halfway between 0 and 1, not 1 and 2. The counting numbers don't start with 1, no matter what they taught you in school. I would even go so far as to say that starting from 1 is inherently god-fearing. You can't get something from nothing, of course. By the way, I don't believe in The Big Bang.

A time can move both fast and slow. Amazes me.

The older I get, the more I come to realise that with age comes Ritual de lo Habitual. Friday is my worst day at work, when it hits me that yet another week of my life has passed. What did I do? How would I summarise the past seven days? Most of what I'd probably have to say would be work-related, and we all know that's a totally pointless act in being busy for the sake of getting paid. Busi-ness indeed.

There's no difference you can make. There's no difference you can make.

I'd like to think that something, anything in my life will make a difference in the grand scheme of things. I don't necessarily want to rule a nation or find a cure for cancer, but I would like to leave my mark. Maybe I have a lot more in common with dogs than I am willing to admit. Yep, I just want other dogs to smell my piss. Pick up my scent. Catch my drift. See what I see. Think what I think.

If it seems like an accident, a collage of senselessness, you weren't looking hard enough - I wasn't looking hard enough - at it.

Here's the bit where I say that from a logical perspective, there can't actually be any point to all of this. Everything is just a matter of chance. A happenstance. My views on religion are likely to change once I finally retire my preconceived notions of Southern Presbyterianism and legally recognise the marriage of numbers and gut feeling.

The arc of time, the stench of sex, the innocence you can't protect, each quarter note, each marble step, walk up and down that lonely treble clef. Each wanting the next one to arrive.

What's the meaning of life? Well... it's probably to create life. I will be a fantastic father. Even better than that, I'll be a great dad.

You give to next one. You give to next on down the line.

20060207 ^up
 
hung on the wall, ophelia
Belle & Sebastian - Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying
Although it's probably nothing more than a little publicity for the new album, Belle & Sebastian had a musical performance/documentary on BBC Scotland tonight. They've come a long way since the early days of avoiding all forms of press, including interviews and even photographs. Of course they're still on the fashionable side of twee, but maybe they've decided to branch out to a new audience this time around. Good on 'em. I hope that both a musically middle-of-the-road, middle-aged housewife and one of her pre-pubescent kids go out tomorrow and buy copies of the CD because they "identify", unbeknownst to one another.

Oh! Get me away from here I'm dying. Play me a song to set me free. Nobody writes them like they used to, so it may as well be me.

I do have a great deal of respect for this band, and say what you will, Stuart Murdoch can indeed write damn fine songs. You either love his voice or hate it. I'm in the former camp. Others probably just think he sounds camp. Male falsetto has never been everyone's cup of Earl Grey, but what makes this all work so well probably has a lot to do with both the lyrics and their delivery.

Oh, I'll settle down with some old story about a boy who's just like me. Thought there was love in everything and everyone. You're so naive!

Sometimes it's best to just read between the lines. Everything else is usually filler. This is a modern rock song rip-off, internalised and re-presented in a postmodern stylee. But you knew that already, right?

Oh, that wasn't what I meant to say at all. From where I'm sitting, rain washing against the lonely tenement has set my mind to wander.

The whimsical nature of this song always puts me in a really great mood. Amen.

20060131 ^up
 
keep out, peek in
Death Cab For Cutie - Your Heart Is An Empty Room
It doesn't make any sense in this day and age that people still associate the source of feelings with the organ that's used to pump blood around the body. Sure, I love the symbolic representation of the heart and everything that it stands for, but the whole idea is just a bit silly. We think with our brain, but we feel with our heart. Apparently. If I asked a room full of random people, they'd probably agree to this. Why do we belittle the brain so much? It's ALL up there. Everything about who we are and how we feel, or better yet, how we think we feel. People get heart transplants all the time, and I'm pretty sure they don't forget their loved ones in the process.

Home's face: how it ages when you're away

More often than not, I forget about the people in my life that I care about, but it's never intentional. Usually life's banality and various day-to-day shite get in the way and cloud one's vision. (Speaking of which, we should also all be aware of the fact that our eyes don't actually "see" anything. Score one more for the ol' brain.) When I'm home, I do try to pick up where I left off, and I think friends and family do the same to some extent. It's just odd for both parties when we appear to physically change or age almost instantaneously since the last time seeing each other. Blink and she's not a baby anymore. Blink and he has more grey hair. Blink and they're simply not there.

And all you see is where else you could be when you're at home, and out on the street are so many possibilities to not be alone.

It's scary to think how easy it is to completely change everything about your life overnight.

The flames and smoke climbed out of every window and disappeared with everything that you held dear, but you shed not a single tear for the things that you didn't need because you knew you were finally free.

20060129 ^up
 
where zero lives
The Smashing Pumpkins - Zero
I'm your lover. I'm your zero. I'm the face in your dreams of glass. I never let on that I was on a sinking ship. I never let on that I was down.

What is it about the truly melancholy that make them the most interesting and/or endearing? You'd think that those who were infinitely sad would be a pain in the ass, but probably only in the long run. People with problems are people with stories. People with stories are actually fun to be around, even when they're not being fun. There seems to be this direct connection between intelligence and sadness, masked as nothing more than apathy and self-loathing. The problem that one encounters is when the game gets old and we can start to recognise the fragility within. The fragility which was always there but propped up by an exorbitant amount of self-depricating gusto and the level of camaraderie that only their rolling-of-eyes-when-no-one-is-looking-except-you can achieve. "Yeah, I know what you mean. I get it." Maybe I don't, and maybe that's OK.

Emptiness is loneliness, and loneliness is cleanliness, and cleanliness is godliness, and God is empty just like me.

Actually, it's best to consider the concept of zero to be all-encompassing rather than non-existent. It's the flipside of the coin, where infinity is heads. The best book I've read in quite some time is entitled Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea. The year 2005 was spent reading a lot of books on mathematics, and this was the highlight, for whatever reason I found particularly relevant at the time. Looking back, it's as though I wanted to reach the zenith in reverse, as either pole was more than acceptable. We all know that the slippery slope is much easier, in the same way that we're more likely to take the stairs down and the lift up. Blame it on gravity. Blame it on the rain. Blame it on the boogie.

Personally, I blame myself.

Hallelujah! I'm well on my way...

20060126 ^up
 
the piggly wiggly in clover, sc
Ben Folds Five - Best Imitation of Myself
Like all of us, I'm somewhat schizophrenic, in the sense that I'm different things to different people. It's not as if I'm lying or being false (most of the time), it's just that I project myself in the way I would like to be viewed or in the way particular people expect me to be. We all do it to some degree, although I'd probably be the first to say that I'm very much my true self to everyone I meet. Bullshit. This web page is a portrayal of Dane version 27390479. Yes, that's a prime number. Of course.

I feel like a quote out of context, withholding the rest, so I can be for you what you want to see. I've got the gesture and sounds, got the timing down. It's uncanny. Yeah, you'd think it was me.

Ben Folds played a gig at the Liquid Room in Edinburgh a few years ago, around the time that his first solo album was about to be released. I had purchased two tickets, and the guy who was going with me decided to bail out, so I showed up at the gig with a spare. To my surprise, the queue went all the way down Victoria Street, so I walked up and offered my ticket for face value to the first person who needed it. I sold it to the girl at the very front of the queue, who didn't even have one! She was from Canandia (not Canada, no) and was travelling around Europe. When she found out that Ben was going to be in Edinburgh, she changed her plans and showed up, hoping and praying that she'd be able to get in. I'm glad I was able to help. Ben played all new solo material that night, but no one in the audience seemed to mind, even though they couldn't sing along. It wasn't until the encore that he pulled out the Ben Folds Five back catalogue, and this was one of the gems he played. Everyone went apeshit, including me.

Do you think I should take a class to lose my Southern accent?

I can't remember the last time that I actually possessed a Southern accent, but it was probably before I entered high school. Sure, I still used the lingo, as that was pretty much inescapable. "Ain't" was a permanent fixture, as was "y'all". Nowadays, I wish I had the accent, as strong as could be, but that'll never happen. I'm quite good at putting it on when I want, and it's funny how women in the UK find it to be rather sexy. I would have to agree, as I still go weak in the knees for a pretty Southern Belle who places particular emphasis on the long "i" sound in words such as riiight and liiight. Beautiful.

20060126 ^up
 
grangemouth
Cap'n Jazz - Oh Messy Life
After all these years, this band still amaze me. This song in particular always has and always will teach me valuable lessons in what's possible when writing and performing. Everything is on the verge of falling apart at any moment, yet it never does.

Fire is motion, work is repetition. This is my document. We are all all we've done. We are all all defenses. Fire is motion. Is motion growth?

Not messy. Tight. Tight beyond belief.

Tim Kinsella is one of those misunderstood and/or pretentious types (who isn't?) with a penchant for the most obscure lyrics I've ever heard. As much as the words just seem to be smashed together for effect, the juxtaposition is surely not a mistake. Maybe it is. I couldn't even begin to pretend that I know what the hell he's on about or if he just gets his kicks from saying the first words that pop into his head at the time. Either way, it works.

Let's kickstart upstairs and whisper with nasty faces. Whisper whilst thinking this is our tragic magic moment. This is what we told the mirror in the midst of the dreams we used to have, last year, about this time, before we knew each others' names and graces. Panda bears and silverbacks. We all jump in the summer and forget about the fall.

See, it's easy!

20060124 ^up
 
babushka
The Decemberists - Red Right Ankle
This is the story of your red right ankle and how it came to meet your leg. And how it whispered "Oh, adhere to me for we are bound by symmetry. And whatever differences our lives have been, we together make a limb."

We are more than the sum of our parts. That's obvious. However, maybe we should be thinking along the same lines as the old interview favourite: What part of the bicycle do you see yourself as? Natural born "leaders" say they're the handle bars, hard workers say they're the chain, nondescript types say their a spoke in the wheel. A spoke? Really? If anyone ever asked me this question, I'd have to stare them in the eye, smile and say that I'm the person on the bike, riding it wherever the hell I want. I have attached multi-coloured tassles to the arms of the CEO, and I've coated the blue collar assembly line crew with oil to keep them from rusting. I've stuck various baseball cards and an ace of spades in between the cubicles of Bob, Sally and that guy with thick glasses from accounts who rarely ever speaks.

Of course, the response by the interviewer to this answer would be something along the lines of, "I'm sorry, but maybe you don't understand the question." To which I would reply, "I'm sorry, but maybe you don't understand the purpose of a bike."

This is the story of your red right ankle.

20060123 ^up
 
holland, 1995
Neutral Milk Hotel - Holland, 1945
Only the most talented of songwriters have the ability to write happysad songs. Milo Aukerman wrote "Hope". Jeff Mangum wrote "Holland, 1945", which was loosely based on his thoughts about Anne Frank. There's something about the passing of life that makes a person want to live, kind of like the feeling one might get from watching an entertaining cinematic tear-jerker, such as, well, Titanic. The story is sad, yet it fills us with hope.

Now we must pack up every piece of the life we used to love, just to keep ourselves at least enough to carry on.

All it takes is to start with a sad song and increase the BPM. Add some drums. Maybe some distorted guitar. Double-up the vocals for added effect. Before you know it, you're happysad. These songs are primed for repeated listening, as they're difficult to consider "throwaway". No, they're much more than that.

And here's where your mother sleeps. And here is the room where our brothers were born. Indentions in the sheets where their bodies once moved but don't move anymore.

Neutral Milk Hotel haven't recorded an album since 1997, shortly before I came to Scotland. I knew of them, due to my Athens (Georgia) connections, yet I didn't hear them until the end of 2005. Something tells me that if I'd been a fan prior to now, my feelings would be different. Certain songs come into our lives at just the right times to be adequately appreciated. Certain songs make you want to sing out loud in public when you have your headphones on. Thank you, Jeff Mangum. In a fucked up sort of way, thank you Anne Frank... not necessarily for dying but for helping other people learn how to appreciate being alive.

20060119 ^up
 
parade
Pixies - Where Is My Mind?
I used to wonder what Black Francis (aka Frank Black, aka Charles Thompson) was thinking when he sat down with an acoustic guitar and wrote this song. It's probably not fair to say this in the past tense, as writing about the subject means that I'm very much considering it in the present day. You'd think that I would have progressed since the early 90's, but no. The main reason that I wanted to see the film Fight Club was because this song was used in the trailer, as I was unfamiliar at that time with the work of Chuck Palahniuk. Since then, I have made every effort to read everything that he has written, except for the most recent novel, as I heard that it's total shit. Maybe he's simply fulfilling his obligations to his publisher, handing in whatever he has the inclination to write down in between the high-brow literary lectures, A-list parties and drug-fuelled, drunken nights alone, when he's considering how lucky/pathetic he is. Chuck, I'm not down on you. Respect.

With your feet in the air and your head on the ground. Try this trick and spin it, yeah.

Black Francis must have had some kind of correlation between Spanish and sex. Dirty sex. Christina Aguilera dirrrty. I always thought that he equated whores with Mexican senoritas, and it only takes listening to a handful of his songs to draw that conclusion. However, when he wasn't thinking about sex, he was attempting to create a physical representation of the pictures in his mind through music. He had a short attention span, as can be seen by his general track lengths. (Side note: I hate referring to a song as a track, as it turns a piece of artwork into a unit of consumerism.) Either he finished what he had to say and couldn't think of anything else, or he had a fear of boring the listener. I can identify with the latter.

Ooooooh.... stop.

20060118 ^up
 
organ
Dear Miss Dismissed,
I think I owe you one because I came and went and said in all good fun. My intentions were honest and simple then. At least I thought they were, but what makes a sinner sin? A heart can be split to infinity, and we can see our past in perfect 20/20. So it seems. But that's no good to man nor beast or maybe both, as the case may be. They told you so. Yeah, I told you so.

Dear Miss Mistress, I know I lied to you, but what could I say or do? I just told you half the truth. My intentions were selfish and stupid then. At least I knew they were. Yeah, that's why a sinner sins.

Down to one. Down to one. Down to one. Down to one.

I guess I knew in time that I'd let you go, but I don't want to shout about it.

20060105 ^up
 
truck
Back to basics
Let me set the scene for you. OK, so I grew up out in the country, in a rural area called Bethany, several miles west of Clover, South Carolina. My father's father was a farmer, and so was my father's father's father. I'm not sure how far it went back, but I'm guessing pretty damn far. My father decided against the farming life. He liked messing around with cars, so he became a mechanic. A hobby became a career, which, in turn, became a Hell on Earth. Anyway, my grandparents were very much the farmer types. As a kid, I remember having cows, pigs, chickens and even bees. Yes, bees. Cecil and Emogene (Mo) would wake at the butt crack of dawn to do the chores, and I thought their lives were crazy. I grew up attending cattle shows and county fairs, but the farming life never appealed to me.

You can see where this is going.

At the moment, I am at a crossroads, deciding which direction I should take with my life. It took the magic of television to light the comic lightbulb above my head. A few weeks ago, I watched a programme (not program because I am in Britain) about a guy who appreciates the simple (read: hard) life of the rural idyll. He was clever. Very. His plan was to create a working farm called River Cottage, and here he would create his HQ of fresh food and culinary delights, which would be the foundation for his new restaurant, also sitting on the land. He took his idea to Channel 4 and got them to create a documentary, which has been on for years now, showing how he did everything, starting from the very beginning. It is fantastic viewing, and I have watched his exploits many times. It's a lifestyle/cookery/business type of thing, and I have now realized that I am very jealous.

Fuck this shit. Fuck the rat race, even though I am no more than a measly mouse who doesn't even want the piece of cheese at the end. I want to make my own damn cheese! I want to farm the land! At least I think I do...

Doesn't this appeal to you? I want to grow my own food, both plants and animals, as well as have the ability to cook some fucking good scran in the process! As long as I could get a phone line installed, I can do the IT thing remotely, whatever that may be. What money I make would last longer, as I wouldn't be tempted by the bullshit of modern consumerism. I would get to use rifles, chainsaws, axes, hammers... all the things that scare me, as tools of survival. Then again, I would live very comfortably, not in a shack. I would have a home. This home would be my castle, and it will be full of love and laughter. I will find a woman, and we will make babies. At least three. We will try not to fight, and we will be happy with our lives and enjoy each day as it comes.

I will not be a recluse. People will visit. Often. And there will be many new friends to make in the neighboring towns and villages. I will work hard during the day, as it will not be only for me but for my woman and babies. I will call my woman "my woman". At night, I will write novels and solve the Riemann Hypothesis, and if I cannot do the latter, then I will at least make siginificant headway in the field of prime number theory.

The woman will also do what her heart desires, and if that involves chatting or playing with the babies or making more, then I will be happy to assist. I will have a telescope. It will be the one my father bought me as a child. The sky will be so bright at night because the land will be so dark. A prison will not be anywhere nearby, in case of a break-out. There will be a stream, and I will fish. I may even learn to de-scale and de-bone. I do not like bones.

My woman and I will venture into the city, at least once a month, for a night of pleasure. The babies will be sat. Someone will live nearby to do that.

The babies will grow up, and I will take them into the city, telling them stories of my life there. This will fuel their fascination, and one day, they will live in the city.

Until they come to understand that the city is not for them. They will come back to the country, but not the country of their father. It must be their own.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

20060105 ^up
 
blackridge
In the beginning...
The concept of God proves feasible at the same moment that object permanence takes hold. The idea that something/someone is there, although out of sight, is fundamental to spatial recollection as well as the foundation for fantasy. Taking solace in the understood absence of a parent or primary attachment figure merely primes the young mind for the introduction of a religion based around an omnipotent, generally benevolent, presence. The tragedy lies in the misappropriation of self-awareness and rational thought, which is effectively consciousness, as a higher being. This, quite often, is the collective voice of the righteous society, upholding the laws of that which is acceptable and Good.

20060105 ^up
 
d a n e s t e w a r t . c o m