Nov 10 2012

Remembrance Day 11-11-12

The Last Long Mile

written by Charles Hart and Shannon Four, 1918

Why the Poppy?

A writer first made the connection between the poppy and battlefield deaths during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, remarking that fields that were barren before battle exploded with the blood-red flowers after the fighting ended. Continue reading

Oct 28 2011

No Means No 2011 (and 1994)

Here, out west, it’s hunting season, and typically that means that NoMeansNO should be passing through the territory. I take a gander at the band Web site and see that, yes indeed, the best Canadian band ever set off on a countrywide peregrination just yesterday.

See them while you can, fellow sapiens, for the season will come when that wizened trio gaze out onto the vastness of the Hardcore Logo circuit and judge it no country for old men. That’ll be a sad day for Punk Rock, implacably sad like the end of the Selfish Giant (which reminds me not to pogo so much this time; this is no country for old knees).

We don't quit on a tour poster just cuz it's got a little wear and tear


Mr. Wrong chats with some Slovene hipsters

And for your further edification, here is an old short story/review I wrote about seeing the band on their Mr. Happy tour (93/94).

Feb 1 2011

Canada Post – Cheaper Than The Internet

Via imgur
(h/t Warren Heise)

UBB, usage-based billing, it’s a bad idea.

Sign the petition, tell the CRTC to think again and put Bell back in their place.

Jan 13 2011

Soviet Manholes – updated

Misha, Lena, the author, and some misplaced statuary

My travelogue story of how I came to plummet down a soviet manhole in Kiev, 1991 has been re-posted by a Russian language blog written by Tatiana Ezhova, the very woman who helped extract me from the jaws of that gaping manhole those many years ago. Only in our weird wired age would a reunion of this peculiar type be possible. Hi Tatiana, thanks for not letting me die, please send me some cool post-Soviet rock and roll.

Here is the original post, and it’s mostly true.

Jan 2 2011

Lounge Punk’s Not Dead

Lounge punk ran out of steam pretty fast. By album three (entitled 3), even standard bearers Nouvelle Vague seemed tired of the formula, and only their reworking of So Lonely (the Police) really stands out on that disc. But in revisiting a lot of great old songs, re-situating them, slowing them, often making the lyrics intelligible for the first time, the sub-sub genre did us all many kindnesses.

As gems of lounge punk, I would name Nouvelle Vague’s Bela Lugosi’s Dead (Bauhaus) and their unaccountable take on Too Drunk to Fuck (Dead Kennedys). And then there’s Richard Cheese with his hilarious American Idiot (Green Day) and Down With the Sickness (Disturbed) which was used to memorable effect in the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Gary Jules’ version of Mad World (Tears for Fears) meets all the criteria of a standard lounge punk recording, but it’s in a class apart for what it achieves, just as the film Donnie Darko is in a class by itself.

Bright spots aside, Vegas casino punk has largely been dreary and too cool for itself, but just when you think a trend is completely exhausted – and lounge punk was certain to exhaust itself sooner rather than later since it’s even more inherently cannibalistic than most pop music developments – it yields up something genuinely splendid.

In truth, Hellsongs have been attracting attention in Sweden since 2005, but their album Songs in the Key of 666 only recently got a push into the North American market. As the band and album names suggest, these are reworkings of Heavy Metal standards. Most of the tracks by this three-piece are jumpy and perky, the sort of thing you’d expect from the cast of Glee or the Kids From Fame. The new versions are amusing if you know the originals, but don’t necessarily stand up to repeated listening.

But then there is this. Hellsongs’ piano adaptation of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid is simply magic, and the Bergman-esque video does not hurt.

Can you help me occupy my brain?

Before we leave the topic of lounge punk behind, the question has to be asked, why hasn’t anyone done a lounge version of Viva Las Vegas?

Read more here.

Dec 17 2010

Here Come the Wolfman: Grinderman 2

Album Artwork

In attempting to place Grinderman 2 in its appropriate musical context many reviewers have found that it fits squarely into the territory somewhere between Howling Wolf and Suicide. The same can, however, be said of almost everything that Nick Cave has ever done (excepting that wretched What a Wonderful World duet with a comatose Shane MacGowan, which shouldn’t even be mentioned).

While the first Grinderman release had some better songs, this is the better album. It seethes, sizzles, squawks and roars. On a strictly sonic level, it’s really quite amazing. In Warren Ellis (Dirty Three), Cave has found another worthy midwife for his visions. Debate about how Grinderman is or isn’t the Bad Seeds (and which crop of Bad Seeds would that be?), and is or isn’t the Birthday Party can quite miss the point. What matters is that Cave’s art is as aggressive and urgent as ever. Splendid, lurid and brutal, this is the best Cave record since Let Love In (1994).

Credit: Steve Gullick

Truth be told, the two Grinderman discs to date contain more arresting and memorable material than the previous six by the Bad Seeds, and I say that as an absolute die-hard. Since – on paper – the one band is just a subset of the other (4 members as opposed to 7) what’s the big difference?

Clearly sick of that question, in a DL interview, Cave put it all down to instrument and stance; I was able to play guitar and put the piano aside, and that allowed me to sing in a different way. Perhaps that’s it, but I’ll wager he manages a spot-on Chester Burnette Oooowwwwoooo from a seated position also, and it’s not as though his music has ever lacked for phallic dimensions.

Read the rest, here.

Dec 10 2010

To Act Globally, Mirror Locally

The Kraken Wakes

Quite irrespective of what the particular or cumulative consequences may be of the revelations contained within US State Department documents recently released by WikiLeaks, and regardless of the legal travails and ultimate fate of Julian Assange himself, or of WikiLeaks itself, it is abundantly clear that the Whole Wired World is changed and is changing as a result of these events. That story will play itself out, but the knowledge, techniques, networks, and proclivities acquired as a result will endure. Capacities for resilience, evasion and payback – the portion of the Internet community and system that has been radicalized and mobilized will not soon forget what it has learned how to do.

Read the rest.

Dec 10 2010

Escape From Planet Suicide

Medea and young: Delacroix

Peter Ward of the University of Washington, Seattle is posed by Big Think the question, is life suicidal? But this is not the question his Medea Hypothesis actually answers. He does not argue that life deliberately opts for death, and Medea of Greek myth is not infamous for killing herself. She killed her children, and an uncle later on, apparently, although he rarely rates a mention for some reason.

What he does argue is that, in the long view, there is no such thing as naturally sustainable life. Life always massively impacts the environmental conditions that gave rise to it, and in so doing ultimately brings about its own demise. Four of the five global mass extinctions that earth has experienced were, in Ward’s view, biologically produced catastrophes.

Read the rest here.

Dec 7 2010

Waiting for Bilbo

Gollum: Riddler in the Dark

Shooting for The Hobbit does not begin until February, and part one of the two-parter is not due out until Christmas 2012, yet the story of its production is already a minor epic in its own right. That the team that brought us the Lord of the Rings trilogy should carry on (or back up) and bring the first Middle Earth novel to the screen would seem to have been a no-brainer, yet the project has met with endless difficulty.

There were problems consolidating production and distribution rights. There was Peter Jackson’s legal action against New Line Cinema aimed at forcing an audit of the profits from the Lord of the Rings, which disinclined the company – for a while – to work with him again. And there was further legal action against New Line by the Tolkien Trust and HarperCollins. There have been delays due to funding issues, labor and union problems in New Zealand, and a game of musical director’s chair that saw Guillermo del Toro (The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth) quit in frustration at further delays after having invested many months in scripting and design.

Read the rest.

Dec 7 2010

The Paltry Sapien is Launched

It is 8 o’clock mountain standard time, and to the merry, dimwit banter of Eccles and Bluebottle (Spike Milligan, KBE, and Peter Sellers, OBE) of BBC Radio’s The Goon Show, The Paltry Sapien is launched.

The Paltry Sapien is now, retroactively, our parent site.

And there is plenty more of The Goon Show – the Rosetta Stone of British comedy – here.

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