Sometime in 2014, the Doctor Who relaunch hit Canadian Netflix. To that point my only familiarity with the show was a vague recollection of being terrified as a child when that creepy theme music started playing after Polka Dot Door ended on TVOntario. But with the 2009 reboot, and especially David Tennant’s turn as the Tenth Doctor, the show became a sort of phenomenon in my circle of friends, specifically with young women I knew who never expressed any tendency to nerdery before. So I made an effort to check it out.
And I hated it.
I could spot the reasons why I hated it (the camp, the mugging, the threadbare special effects), but every so often I saw what others saw in it: when the Ninth Doctor inadvertently stumbled on The Last Dalek in the Universe and proceeded to taunt and torture it, I thought I was all in. By the time the Tenth Doctor was fighting werewolves with Queen Victoria the next season, I was throwing up my hands. And I was troubled by what I seemed to be missing. Of course no one has to like everything, but this was something of “my people,” and I felt lacking because I couldn’t get over whatever was keeping me from just enjoying it. It couldn’t be the space travel, I loved Star Trek: TNG. It couldn’t be the time travel, I loved Back to the Future as much as any eighties baby. Was it the Britishness? I grew up loving American superheroes and Japanese anime (still do). Did my fandom fall along nationalist lines? I took these concerns to my friend Caitlin, one of the aforementioned young women who loved Doctor Who, from well before its 21st Century reboot. We never really reached an answer, but I never stopped thinking about this idea that Caitlin and I were both nerds/geeks/dorks, but in completely different ways. Surely our fandoms had to overlap somewhere?
And that’s when Geekdown was born. Every Tuesday, Caitlin and I will bring each other things from our various areas of interest, things the other likely wouldn’t check out, and talk about whether we like it, and why or why not, as we try to find the sweet spot where fandoms intersect.
There will also likely be high levels of nonsense, of the sort that only good friends of five-plus years can provide.
It’s just a silly TV show. Some gags and some chucklery once a week by a smart and talented cast and crew.
So why has news that Yahoo! has saved my beloved Community from the brink of extinction yet again filled me with such elation? Is it because Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna are returning to run things? Is it because Donald Glover seems to be finding his smile again after a year of touring and expressed a willingness to bring closure to the story of Troy Barnes? Is it because one half of the prophecy contained in a throwaway line from Season 2 will be fulfilled? Yes to all, but also more.
Community has always been, in many ways, a show about failure, about characters who couldn’t function, or gambled and lost as they stumble back to solid ground. The victories, when they come at all, are tiny and fleeting, a truth mirrored by the show’s history. Renewals tempered with shorter episode orders, no scheduled premiere dates midseason hiatuses. When it did make the air it was put in a punishing time slot facing down the Chuck Lorre twin-ratings-behemoth of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, two shows it could never really compete with because it was too busy gleefully jumping up its own ass. It almost seemed poetic that the show would die brushing its fingertips trying to reach the improbably prophesied sixth season.
But for those of us who love the show, who really love it, with the sort of all-encompassing passion usually reserved for Whovians or Browncoats, the show speaks to us because we recognize the struggle. Maybe we gambled and lost, too. Maybe we took the long way around to discovering why we’re here and what we’re supposed to do. As Jeff Winger says to the Dean after his bout of insanity while producing a TV commercial for the school, “We’ve all been there. Which is why we’re all here.”
And there will be many who bemoan that the show was never the same after the “Gas Leak Year” of Season 4, and the losses of Chevy Chase and Donald Glover. That it never regained its spirit even after Harmon returned, that it felt tired and out of ideas and should be left to die. And they can feel free to lean back with their arms folded and a smirk on their mugs. Yesterday I might have agreed with them, but it would only be to soften the loss I was feeling. From now until next spring, I just don’t have it for them. This isn’t refusing to let go of a notion the show may have outgrown, I don’t think Harmon’s the sort to do something he didn’t want to do, even if it was to honour the fans. If he didn’t think he had any stories to tell, he would walk. It’s a silly little TV show, but despite everything going against it, it’s still kicking. And so are we.
Five years ago I sat in a Starbucks in Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood, pulled out my then-girlfriend’s burdensome six-pound Dell laptop and started a WordPress blog. I named it after something I’d had scrawled on a white board in my apartment, something I thought might have ended up the title of my first story collection.
Poetry for Gravediggers was my fifth blog, and my first after being downsized as the ‘Online Editor’ of The University of Windsor’s Lance newspaper. Freed from the demands of mandated content creation, I had a surplus of time on my hands and no receptacle in which to dump my ramblings. So I started this.
“Maybe you got away from your city, eager for the opportunities for reinvention such a move would afford you. Maybe most other aspects of your life are happy. But that need to tell stories never really goes away, does it? Whether retelling truth or crafting your lies, stories have strong roots, you can never fully pull that need out of you. So you start writing your little stories again.
And if you’re like me, you fail. A lot. You don’t finish. You despise every word that goes on the page, you question the sanity of anyone who ever had faith in your “talents.” You get irritable with family, coworkers, friends and lovers.
And if you’re like me, you probably get sick of feeling like that. So maybe you decide to take some of the skills you picked up when you weren’t writing, and use them to keep you motivated as you try to make something of yourself, because your thirtieth birthday is already fading behind you and you finally understand that no one is going to make it happen for you.
So maybe, you start a blog.
This site is for me, as I call the bluff of adolescent mentors and supporters; we’ll see if you were right.”
Yesterday morning Okayplayer, a site I’ve read off and on long before I started this site, posted a lengthy and complimentary review of my first book.
You could say it’s been an eventful five years. My then-girlfriend became my ex-girlfriend, I moved to a significantly less-fancy Toronto neighbourhood than Rosedale (as ice cream truck jingles and sires waft through my window) and somehow instead of getting any short stories out into the world I messed around and became a non-fiction writer.
And suddenly this blog shifts from chronicling ‘How I Got Over’ to ‘How I Stay On.’ One of the best things I ever heard was from the songwriter Mike Doughty when someone asked him why he finally decided to write a book about his time in the 90’s alt-hop band Soul Coughing. He said the reason he did was because someone called his bluff: he’d been saying he should write a book for so long someone finally handed him a little money and said, ‘So go do it.’ And that’s terrifying, because, as Doughty said, if you actually try, if you put yourself out there, you lose the comfort of being an undiscovered genius. It’s a comfort I enjoyed a lot over the last five years. And now I don’t have it anymore, which is good, if unsettling. I’ve heard it enough that the fear of failure is really just the fear of success, and I finally know what that means. Because now that I’ve achieved some infinitesimal measure of success (I’ve almost stopped shuddering when I refer to myself as a “writer,” which is huge if you know me), I have to do it again. Which I really have no idea how to do, judging from the wall of silence that greets me after I get introduced to editors by mutual friends.
Which is kind of….great? I recently pointed out to a new acquaintance that I have zero connection to the literary community of this city, not out of any aversion to meeting them, I’m just socially awkward and keep weird hours to pay the bills, so don’t have much of an opportunity. But part of me likes being an unknown quantity who came out of nowhere. Part of me likes that whatever small ripple my book’s announcement made in the community was essentially, “Wait, who?!” Or, to quote that unsung poet, Miguel: “I’ll do it all without a co-sign.”
So what does that mean? Part of it means refocus on the next book (pitch being refined daily) double down on posting around here, make connections when I can but don’t relentlessly network to the detriment of the real work.
Considering the book launching this week will likely lead to an influx of traffic around here, I should probably keep the proceedings hip-hop-centric, but I’ll have to go outside my primary demo for a moment here.
Sad literary news today as we learned the award-winning Canadian writer Alistair MacLeod passed away at age 77, likely due to complications from a stroke he’d suffered last January. I find myself surprised at how taken aback I am by the loss.
I had the good fortune of taking one of MacLeod’s classes on the Early Romantics during my undergraduate studies at the University of Windsor. I am not unique in this regard, he must have taught hundreds if not thousands of students during the four decades he was on the Faculty. I found him a charming and engaging teacher, prone to interrupting his lectures to chat with a pigeon who’d flown onto the windowsill of our classroom in Dillon Hall. He also had a disconcerting habit of breaking into coughing fits that would turn his entire head the a shade of red so deep we would glance at each other with brows furrowed, kids who barely knew each other looking for someone to take the lead and call for medical help. But he always shook it off and went right back into his lecture on The Castle of Otranto without missing a beat, leaving us to roll our eyes in relief like, ‘Can you believe this guy?‘
But more than any of that, what I always appreciated him for was knowing me.
I maintain I was an unexceptional teenager but I’d managed to stake a small reputation as ‘The Writing Kid’, the one who always put on a show of scribbling bad poetry into a journal during study period to make it seem as though I was deliberately keeping other people away from me. It was a good gimmick, it served me well.
When I got to university, majoring in English because I didn’t really know what else I could do with any degree of success, I became one of hundreds of ‘Writing Kids’ many of whom were far more adept at self promotion than I was, so I set about the business of staying unnoticed. I met few people and made fewer friends during my time there, I walked through campus like a ghost.
One afternoon I had to drop something off at the Department Office (I had a habit of skipping class to finish papers and leaving them for the professor before the end of the business day). I admit I was creeping a bit, wandering the hallways of Chrysler Hall North, reading the bulletin boards and single-panel comics on the office doors (English Major Gangs: “What’s the word on the street, Johnny?” “Hermeneutics.”), fascinated by this world running parallel to mine that I was ostensibly a part of but felt no membership in, when he rounded the corner.
“Ah, hello!” he said. I think I may have actually jerked my head around to make sure he was talking to me.
“Uhm…Good afternoon, Dr. MacLeod.”
“I’m just coming back to grade your fun papers!” He was always calling our assignments “fun papers,” in that east coast baritone of his.
“Heh, ah, I hope you think mine was fun after you read it,” I stammered awkwardly.
“Oh yes, yes, you do well, don’t you? Where’s your friend, the young lady with the..” he pointed at the corner of his eye. He meant my then-girlfriend, who had a habit of taking Crayola stamps and applying them along her lower eyelid. Be nice, it was the 90’s.
“Oh, she’s gone home. I’m just waiting for my ride to finish his class, and had to drop something for Dr. Atkinson.”
“Ah, I see. Well have a fine evening, I should have your fun papers back for you on Monday.”
“Thanks, Dr. MacLeod. I’ll see you next week.”
Such a boring and pedestrian exchange. Nothing he would ever have remembered. One could make the case that I’m trying to take some inconsequential encounter with a recently deceased person of note and inflate it with meaning but trust, that’s not what this is. I’ve never forgotten that five-minute chat we had in the hallway of the English Department. That’s why I’ve always been so proud to tell people he taught me once, not because he was this titan of Canadian fiction, winner of the most lucrative literary prize in the world (The IMPAC Dubin Award, won in 2001 for No Great Mischief), but because he took the time to see a confused, angry, directionless kid and speak to him as an equal, when I thought it was my mandated role in life to remain invisible. I will always remain grateful to him for that.
During my trip back to the Windsor area last Christmas, my father got a call from a childhood friend, someone I vaguely remembered having visited us once when I was younger, but not anyone I thought my father still communicated with. They didn’t talk long, but from where I was reading the paper at the kitchen table, I could hear him on the phone in the basement rattling off the state of the family: Cousin 1 just had a baby and has turned into quite the sailor; Cousin 2 took a job as a news reporter in a big city; Cousin 3 is graduating journalism school this year and thinks he might look for a government gig, since J-schools produce far more graduates than there are jobs. Then there was a pause.
“Oh, no, no he’s here. About a week. Uhh, well he lives in Toronto now, working for [redacted]. It’s not a particularly high paying job, but he likes living in Toronto, I guess. You know my brother [redacted] had some health issues there for a while…”
And that was it. My cousins all had lives worth talking about at length, but his only son works a low-paying job and lives in Toronto. No mention of crossing the one thing I never thought I would ever do off of my life’s list of ambitions. Remember this if you think having your name on a book spine will change your life in any meaningful way.
If you were to guess that the flurry of activity around here lately had to do with me getting the itch again now that the draft has finally left my grubby hands and flown overseas to people like designers and copy editors, you would be correct.
You don’t need me to tell you that writing is like running, or weight lifting or whatever other questionable endurance sport you might partake in. Use it or lose it, and I took my damn sweet time recovering from the process of writing the book (Level 56 on Grand Theft Auto Online, email me for my Gamertag. Get at me, dog). But then ideas for things to write about start to percolate and the longer they stay in there the longer they fester until the process of expelling them from my brain is lacklustre and disappointing. Not unlike passing a bowel movement.
As for how I’m feeling now that it’s out of my hands, the wonderful Julieanne Smolinski summed up that feeling with more precision than I ever could.
My favorite part of finishing a huge writing project is realizing it is the worst thing ever created by man and throwing it down a well.
None of this is to say I’ve been completely slovenly the last couple of months. I continue musing about whatever nerdery comes to mind over at 22 Pages for the University of Toronto (latest are here and here) and I also branched out a tad by tossing some pieces to the folks over at The Same Page on, oddly enough, the 40th Birthday of Hip-Hop and the release of Grand Theft Auto V (do you think I’m developing a niche here?)
As well, my friends and colleagues at 22 Pages Khaiam Dar and Alex Correa have collected the first volume of the webcomic they started in 2011, Smells Like Maturity. If you’re in the Toronto area, swing by Red Nails II at Jane and Bloor for their release party on November 15. I wrote the introduction, so if you’re a Ferguson completist, you’ll want to pick that up. Writing it turned out to be a bigger deal than I was expecting it to be, but I’m really happy with the piece, and for the opportunity to toast those two jerks on the occasion of making their longtime dream come true. Of course they’d release their book six months before mine comes out.
So that’s what I’m staying up to, friends. It’s a moment of respite from book madness as it moves to the production phase, but I’m sure you’ll be inundated with Dilla-related content as the book nears release. For the moment, I’m just enjoying the relative peace and trying to figure out how to stumble my way into being a quote-unquote “writer” instead of someone who wrote a book once.
Kind of weird to think now about how that struggle is what this blog was meant to document in the first place. .
Back in the summer my editors at Bloomsbury asked me to do a little interview for their website, all of the authors in my “class” were doing it, a way to introduce ourselves, talk about the albums we were writing about, what we were trying to bring to the table. By the time my turn was up, I started to get this itch like I wanted to jazz it up, do something new, not because I thought the interviews were getting repetitive, but because I didn’t think I had anything interesting to say. So I asked the editors if I could throw together a video instead. It was fun, I always like flexing those muscles, even if I did blatantly rip off the rhythms and style of a million other video bloggers.
One of the later questions in the interview concerned howI listen to my music: vinyl, CDs or MP3. At the time I said that as much as I enjoyed spending an afternoon flipping through stacks of records, living in a bachelor apartment in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood presents certain realities of storage space (not to mention the financial barriers) so most of my music had to live on my laptop.
A few weeks later I was back in my hometown staying at my parents’ house. The plan was to get out of the city, to the peace and quiet of small town living where I wouldn’t have as many distractions and could bang out the first terrible draft of the book, spending the rest of the month tweaking and polishing. I packed a gift I had received for my birthday the previous year, a copy of Donuts on vinyl. My folks had a turntable and I was curious to see if I’d hear anything different in the album in that format. Donuts is intentionally constructed as one continuous piece of music, meant for a compact disc. Listening to it on vinyl adds an entirely different dimension to it because the listener has to change the record every five tracks or so. None of this ended up in the book, but it was a worthwhile experience nonetheless.
The draft didn’t really get done while I was down there. In all honesty, it was one of the worst trips home I’ve ever had. In addition to opting for the couch instead of my father’s bed, which had been known to give me backaches (the couch gave me worse backaches) I also received some upsetting information of a personal nature that put me in a panic for most of the week. The plan was to wake up early every day, shower and coffee by 9.00 and put in a solid workday of bashing out pages. That happened maybe once. The rest of the time I was texting friends, emailing colleagues for advice or lying on the floor and generally trying to avoid things in any way possible.
This is where I fell in love with vinyl again.
As later documented on Instagram, I spent an evening rooting around my parents’ crawlspace and digging through their record collection. It was filled with what one would expect to find in crates belonging to white people of a certain age: Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Journey, some disco, a little new wave. I grabbed a stack of LPs known and unknown and took them out to the stereo. My father’s had all of the same equipment for as long as I can remember, so even the act of turning it on was nostalgic and wistful: the chirp as I flicked the power switch on the receiver, the clicks of the levers on his old Dual turntable as the tone arm lifted and positioned itself at the edge of the disc, the pop and crackle through the speakers. There wasn’t much that made me feel good on that trip, but that evening I spent sitting cross-legged in front of my father’s stereo, as I had as a child and teenager was a happy moment. I started thinking it would be cool to have a turntable in the house. Back when I lived with a woman, we talked once about how cool it would be to take the CDs, rip them to a hard drive, sell them, then buy the essential, desert island discs on vinyl.
It’s an idea that never really went away, I just figured it would be too much of an investment. When you start digging through websites about this sort of thing, people will have you convinced that a minimum of 500 bucks is the minimum investment required to really hear the nuances of the recordings and blah blah puke.
Last weekend I took a stack of birthday money and bought an Audio-Technica LP60. Cost me a hundred bucks. I’m running it through my iPhone dock. I couldn’t be happier.
Cause you see, what I was reminded of back at my folks’ house, what I had forgotten in recent years, is how vinyl forces you to really connect with a piece of music. When I’m walking the streets with my headphones on, I’m constantly skipping through tracks. Three hundred songs on my phone, I don’t want to hear any of them. You probably do the same thing. And walking the street or riding the train is the place for that. Thing with vinyl, though? I put that record on, I’m stuck with it. I have to listen to it. Sure I could skip songs or swap out the record, but that’s a pain in the ass. Putting on a record has forced me to reconnect with music in a way I think I’d maybe forgotten about.
What’s also fun about all this is how little I care for the ancillary concerns that fuel most other collectors. I’m coming at this as a fan, not an audiophile. An audiophile would see my setup and laugh me out of my own house (foremost among the reasons why, in my investigations at least, “audiophiles” are the worst). I don’t give a shit about original or Japanese pressings. I’m only buying albums I consider classics. I’ll get to my hip-hop essentials eventually, but at the moment I’m into soul, funk and jazz. I’m not really into 45s because they seem too disposable to me. I know I should splurge on the 180g reissues, but I love a record that feels like it has some history. When shopping last weekend, I had to choose between the remaster of Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book or a cheaper copy in a dingy, weathered sleeve. Of course I chose the latter.
I’m giddy with the excitement of having a new obsession. I love drafting my wishlist in my head, I love the idea of heading out to the shops in this city, looking for the cheapest copies I can find. Comic books were probably the last thing that gave me a similar sense of meditative peace (sad as that is), but comics could only be found at comic shops. You can find records everywhere. I love the fact that you can spend 10 bucks on a used record and feel like you really bought something. CDs never made me feel like that. I love that the Donny Hathaway album I bought had a gatefold with liner notes by Nikki Giovanni.
Mostly, I just love feeling like a music fan again.
Last weekend, the nerdmageddon known as FanExpo Canada hit Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre, and despite my well-documented thoughts on convention season, I was seriously considering going, but ultimately tapped out due to the financial commitment required and my unwillingness to spend my rent money getting photos with Nathan Fillion and The Walking Dead’s Dixon Brothers. But it was dicey there for a minute.
I’d forgive you if you’d forgotten or were unaware of how deep my geekery runs. Most of the topics around here lately seem to centre around hip-hop or weak-kneed attempts at personal insight. But it’s always gurgling inside me, ready to spurt out at any moment, from my continued love of professional wrestling, my slavish dedication to the comic series Saga, or the fact that after September 17, I will be on permanent vacation causing mayhem throughout Los Santos.
I did not expect it to be triggered by a Japanese anime about magical girls.
I’d heard of Madoka Magica long before I thought to watch it: one night I stumbled across the ‘Headless Mami‘ meme and found it odd that a character in a cutesy-wutesy magical girl show would get decapitated, but stranger things have happened. But the image stuck with me, solely because it wasn’t something I’d seen before. I’ve been long burned out on anime, the tropes of the medium had become too trite and predictable to me [I solely blame Love Hina for this]. But something about Mami’s demise stuck with me, so when I saw that Crackle [the dollar bin of online video] had the whole series available, I gave it a shot. And was pretty much stunned into submission. Because it’s Sailor Moon-meets-Evangelion.
In the late 90’s, the North American broadcasts of Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z combined with a fluke viewing of the cult classic Akira to transform me into the most rabid of anime fans. The crap we would have to go through back then to see anything that wasn’t already bought for syndication on children’s television would floor the fans of today. There was one store [ONE] that had a small selection of VHS tapes from the now-defunct Streamline Pictures and early releases from Manga Entertainment. If you’re of my generation of fandom, you remember these shows: Wicked City, Ghost in the Shell, Macross Plus, The Wings of Honneamise, Dirty Pair. Smaller distributors like ADVision or Central Park Media had started releasing shows by the mid-90’s, but digging them up in Windsor, Ontario was next to impossible, and when you did they were usually horrific English dubs by barely conscious voice actors [the ‘sub v. dub wars’ were real, friends; even worse, dubbed anime retailed for less than its subtitled counterparts, since manufacturers considered anime in its original Japanese a more ‘niche product’ and because, as rumour had it one executive explained, ‘fans will pay it.’ DVDs, with their multiple audio options, changed the game]. One afternoon in my university computer lab I did a Lycos search [really] of ‘anime’ and discovered something called The Right Stuf International. Today, TRSI is an online behemoth, the oldest North American anime retailer in the business. Back in the day, its sales were done via mail order, and all we had to go on were recommendations and descriptions from the catalogue. There were no trailers to watch, you could maybe glean some info from the fledgling message boards that started cropping up, but a lot of times you went on instinct, what you though sounded good. Then you sent them an order form and a cheque, and six weeks later you got some tapes.
We will not talk about how much of my money this company received from 1996-1998.
Many of the shows I love to this day I learned about from the TRSI catalogue, or from people I met on their message boards and would send/trade tapes with. One of those shows was Neon Genesis Evangelion. I would never call it my ‘favourite’ anime in the same way I wouldn’t call The Sandman my ‘favourite’ comic, but images and story points of Eva have stayed with me for almost 15 years. We don’t need to get into a major plot synopsis of the show, all we need to say is that Eva took the genre of giant robots, which had been around in Japanese SF for decades and added an element of psychology and deconstruction that no one had ever tried before. When fans didn’t approve of the show’s conclusion, director Hideaki Anno rereleased the ending in the theatrical release End of Evangelion which has to be the most flagrant pair of middle fingers to a property’s fanbase in the history of filmmaking. It was glorious to witness. As the series gets tweaked and retold in a new theatrical tetralogy, its impact is still being felt [the tandem piloting of the Jaegers in Pacific Rim is one of a few ideas in that movie that seems to be inspired by Eva]. What makes that show so fascinating is that ultimately, it was never about smashy-smashy robotic fisticuffs, it was about the trauma inflicted on the 14-year-olds forced to pilot the things, all of them dealing with abandonment issues, all of them searching for a meaning in a meaningless world. Existentialism at its finest [or worst, depending].
PMMM looks to do the same thing with the magical girl genre. In shows of that type, typically some unremarkable girl has a trinket of some sort bestowed on her by a sparkly cat/puppy/squirrel/wolverine which then allows her to transform into a powerful crusader of justice who battles the monster of the week before squaring off the overarching menace.
PMMM takes the formula but turns the magical girl proposal into an overtly Faustian bargain: Kyubey, the show’s wonder-rodent of choice and indeterminate origin grants wishes, anything a young lady may desire, and in return, said lady must work as a magical girl fighting ‘witches’, physical manifestations of hopelessness and despair. For most of the show’s 12 episodes, Madoka, the titular character and protagonist, wrestles with the decision whether or not to take Kyubey up on his offer, despite his forceful encouragement and claims that she would be the most powerful magical girl ever. For those characters that do decide to accept Kyubey’s offer, the gift turns to a monkey’s paw: Mami’s elation at the possibility of no longer being the lone magical girl leads to overconfidence and death; Madoka’s friend Sayaka makes a wish to help the boy she loves, which brings her nothing but pain and hurt, and also death, turning her into a witch [the ultimate fate of all magical girls]; the antagonistic Homura reveals herself to be a time traveler who had her life saved when Madoka sacrificed her own, and has gone through hundreds of timelines to try and prevent the same outcome. And when Madoka finally makes her choice… well, I suppose I should leave you some mysteries.
The characters in the show are all wrestling with powerlessness and failure, despite the mighty abilities at their command. When Kyubey’s intentions are finally revealed, he turns out to be a member of an alien race looking to harvest emotional energy to restore balance to the universe and prevent entropy [shaky science here, but it’s still a rare hard-SF angle to the typically new agey approach these shows usually take] and what conduit can provide more emotional energy than adolescent girls? They’re nothing but unchecked emotional energy. While not nearly as nihilistic in its storytelling as Eva gets, I was taken completely off guard by the weight of the story, by the loss the characters feel, the elements of horror that emerge during the witch battles [the animation style changes to a flat, stop-motiony style whenever a witch is around, and the ending credits are…off putting].
At 12 episodes, it’s a tightly wound narrative, nothing is wasted, it has none of the filler that tends to plague most anime shows. You could do worse than checking it out on Crackle.
This will be a story about two things, poorly organized.
It’s been about two weeks since I gave my manuscript the final read through and sent it off to my editors. My eyes stung, my body reeked, my brain frayed on sugar and caffeine overdose. Almost bankrupt from the work shifts I’d given away to write it. Two weeks on my finances are still kind of dicey. It could be another six to eight months before I see a dime from the thing, if not more. It’s almost enough to make a man wonder why he bothers.
People have constantly asked me throughout this process, But aren’t you excited?! I am but I’m not. The 18 months I proposed, researched and wrote this book were a time of intense personal loss, on a few different levels, not the least of which was the breakdown of my six-year relationship, compounded by the loss of the woman who saw me through that breakup and made sure I stayed above water. There are lessons of self-sufficiency to be found there, I’m sure, but I don’t care to excavate them today. Suffice to say, I learned the hard way what most writers already know: any project may turn into a collaborative process, but in the thick of it, it’s just you, the screen and the words. And in my case, a dead man.
That’s been the strangest part of all this, now that I’m “over the mountain,” as it were. I spent large portions of every day with this guy in my head, listening to his music, researching his life, reading what people who knew him had to say. I don’t need to do that anymore. I need to let him go. And I’ve started to, but I kind of already miss him.
After I mailed the draft in, I got nine hours of sleep, went to work for a quick shift and tended to the business of cleaning my sty of an apartment after weeks of neglect. I had Songza on for accompaniment, I think it was an 80’s party playlist. Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out” came on. I was hungry, so I took a moment to eat some yogurt and take stock of what I’d done and what still needed cleaning. And I don’t know, something about the breeze coming in my window, realizing I’d gotten enough of my life back to actually clean the house, Joe Jackson reminding me we’re all young but getting old before our time… I felt something resembling pride in my accomplishment. It didn’t matter who was supposed to be there when I finished,the point was finishing.
Details have trickled in over the last couple of weeks. A cover design, a release date, a listing on the publisher site [you can find all these details on the recently redesigned page for the book, just click ’33 1/3 Donuts’ above]. Currently my editor’s looking at the manuscript, she’ll send it back to me hacked to shit with ideas on how to make it better, I will spend a month rewriting based on her suggestions and then my tiny little hype machine will kick into high gear, and I’ll really be in trouble, because eventually someone’s going to ask the [reasonable] question, “Who the fuck is this guy, and why does he get to write about Dilla?!” And I don’t have an answer. I’m told most creative types, especially writers, live with the anxiety that we’re all just frauds and one day someone will realize it and tell the world.
Neil Gaiman has lived with this anxiety. Despite winning multiple awards for his writing, building a career that’s endured over 30 years and proving he can write everything from films to children’s books to comics and radio plays, he still worries that one day someone will knock on his door, confiscate his notepads and force him to get a real job. He discussed this fear in a speech he made to the 2012 graduating class at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. He put everything he knew about trying to build a career in the arts into those 20 minutes, and of course it went viral online, eventually being collected in a slim volume designed by Chip Kidd called Fantastic Mistakes. Knowing Gaiman was stopping in Toronto as part of his “Last Signing Tour” a mere five days after my draft day, the speech, with its dedication to everyone wondering “Now what?” [which I most certainly was] it seemed like a suitable item for him to sign [since I’d forgotten to bring my copy of Sandman #1 back from my parents’ house].
The first time I met Gaiman, I told him about being 10 or 11 years old and stumbling across an interview of his on the old TVOntatio show Prisoners of Gravity, and how I thought he was the coolest guy I’d ever seen, and started reading Sandman shortly afterward. His stories changed my life; where books like Dark Knight Returns or Arkham Asylum left a marked impression on me, Sandman didn’t have any of the nihilism those books did, there was always a humanity and optimism in them, something that spoke to me then like it spoke to me in his latest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane (no lie, my favourite thing of his in years. No shots, just personal taste). Four years ago, he’d seemed genuinely touched by the story, looked up and smiled, then shook my hand, something I hadn’t seen him do much with the other people in line.
When I saw him a couple weeks ago, he was personable, if a little weary, and I launched into an off the cuff monologue about why I was having him sign the speech, and my book coming out, and how I took the advice to ‘make good art” very seriously, considering the circumstances surrounding my book’s inception (great fun watching his publicist try to piece that one together, as the woman I used to date was standing next to me in line). And for the second consecutive time, he paused, looked up at me and offered his hand, pen still threaded in his fingers. I think this means we’re best friends now.
Last Holiday I was speaking with a friend who’d recently separated from her husband and told her that for the first time in my life, I really didn’t know what the next 12 months were going to hold, for any of us. Most of the time, we go through our lives with at least a small degree of certainty: X and Y will remain married, you will live in this certain city, work at this certain job, etc. At the end of 2012, I couldn’t speak to any of that. Relationships were ending, careers were changing, people were moving. I had no idea what the gameboard was going to look like a year from then. Almost 3/4 through this year, I have even less of an idea. The book’s in, it could be the start of the career I’ve always wanted, or it could be some footnote on my life, a cool thing I did once.I probably don’t need to know that right now, which is rare for me, and extremely liberating. All I need to know right now is that trying to make good art and trusting my instincts is what got me here, and continuing to do the same is what will see me through.
You can read or watch the “Make Good Art’ speech here.
There’s a neat conceit Zack Snyder & Co. use in the movie Man of Steel to get around the issue of Kryptonite: instead of being weakened by the radiation from the fragments of his homeworld, the cause is more environmental: General Zod and his crew maintain Kryptonian atmospheric and gravitational settings on their ship, which Kal-El is unaccustomed to, so when he ends up a hostage on there, it diminishes the powers that make him exceptional on Earth. It’s also a two-way street: when Zod gets his “breather” knocked off during battle, the sensory onslaught he receives from his superior abilities leaves him harmless as a puppy.
I spent ten days back home last week in an attempt to try and bash out the draft for my book. While it wasn’t a totally fruitless exercise, it left me feeling like both Kal-El and Zod: at times sapped of strength, overwhelmed at others.
It’s always been strange to me, going home. So much of my ‘second period,’ was defined by my seeming unwillingness or inability to leave the nest that every time I go back, I feel like the same trapped 25-year-old whose contrarian nature only left him more isolated as the people around him accepted the rules of the environment. This isn’t to say one approach was superior to the other, I could just never see any other way for myself.
Having been gone for almost seven years, not just from the nest but from the only place I’d known up to that point, there’s a cognitive disconnect there between me and my friends who never left, or left and came back. Again, I’m not saying one way is better than the other, it’s just that I was more acutely aware this trip than ever before that theirs is a lifestyle I stopped being accustomed to some time ago. I’d been seriously considering moving back there in the next couple of years [for reasons fiduciary and personal], but left there unsure if I ever could go back. There are definitely reasons that could entice me to return, and I know I would make a good life for myself there; but somewhere in the local news reports about iguanas on the loose and stolen prosthetic limbs I got that old nagging feeling of being a man out-of-place.
This is probably wholly my issue, and is something people usually chalk up to OoooOOOooh, Mr. Toronto’s too fancy for us, now! Which I would hope is obviously not the case. Most of the time when I’m in a room full of my friends who are now married and parents, I feel totally inferior, because I have not lived my life “according to plan,” and regretful that I’m usually pretty okay with that. My parents would like grandchildren, and while I always retain hope they might get them, I wouldn’t advise playing the over/under on that. And while my stance on children has gotten somewhat more fluid in recent years, my stance on marriage likely never will, as in, if she wants to, I’ll go along with it. But I don’t need any of that. And this is still an alarmingly rare position in small town Ontario.
I’m certainly not alone among people of my demo who find they have to click ‘remove from feed’ on Facebook with growing frequency to soothe the barrage of photos to children they have no connection to, but the sad fact is that you’re left with nothing but Game of Thrones memes and Zoosk ads as a result.
What’s all this mean, then? I don’t know friends. Toronto can feel painfully lonely, so much so that I often spook like a feral cat when friends back home call to say ‘what’s up?’, that’s how fully I’ve thrown myself into anonymity. But still, as I dragged my suitcase along Bay St, up to King to catch a streetcar, weaving through tourists and folks headed to the Jays game and bankers on their way home, I immediately felt more relaxed than I did that morning. Seated at my chair in my shitty apartment that I spend too much of my money to live in, I already feel more accomplished today than I did at my parents’ kitchen table.
Still. I once heard it said that a great life in a mediocre place is superior to a mediocre life in a great place. It’s always stuck with me. I would still love to force my will onto the culture of the Rose City. I just want a reason to go back.
I’m writing this on a train southbound to Windsor, where I will then drive another half an hour south into the asphyxiating humidity of Amherstburg, Ontario, where I will hole up in my parents’ house for the next week and a half to take the scraps, scenes, scribbles and scrivenings I have floating around my hard drive, in Moleskines, on ripped papers currently stuffed in my pockets and attempt to stitch them into something resembling a cohesive narrative for 30,000 – 35,000 words, which I will then take the month of July to edit and polish, and then send off to the powers that be and hope they still want to publish it. I will likely need to write a giant decompression post when that happens. But that will be later.
Today, I want to talk about that photo up top. See, this past Friday the good folks at Hip-Hop Karaoke Toronto had their inaugural ‘Posse Cut’ Edition. After three annual solo competitions, the crew listened to feedback from folks who wanted to compete as groups, and set up this event for duos, trios and quartets, keeping everything nice and equal.
Hip-Hop Karaoke has always been a thing I do a lot with one particular person. I used to date that person. I no longer do. No further details necessary.We still see each other, we still hang out. Sometimes it’s weird, most times it’s not. People find this confusing. I don’t really care.
But for some reason, it always felt to me that we never really got over. We had a couple rough performances, we [okay me] can be socially awkward around people so friendships with the other regulars were limited to a quick dap and ‘S’up?’ walking through the club. But when the group competition was announced, we knew we had to do something.
There was some minor bickering over song selection: I’d thought‘The Next Episode’ by Dr. Dre was something unique I hadn’t really seen done before, and the Nate Dogg portions could inspire some fun crowd interactions. She thought it was a little slow, might bring the energy down. She suggested “Peter Piper” by Run-DMC. I was a little hesitant, considering the song’s age, and how much the kids in the crowd might know it, but it had some good back-and-forth work [the thing everyone remembers about that MOP performance], some classic lines, and even if the kids didn’t know the song specifically, everyone knows that Bob James break by now. So I agreed, and we spent the next week working it out.
I didn’t turn to look at the judges behind me while we performed, but I heard from friends later that they were going pretty nuts. All I knew at the time was when I decided spontaneously to throw out some classic, ‘Lemme hear you say ho-oooh!‘ to the crowd, the response was far louder than I’d anticipated.
“Oh shit,” I thought, “We could actually place.”
Well, we didn’t place. We won the whole damn thing. Full disclosure, we ended up tying with a pair of ladies who have become regular in the last six months and have always impressed. I didn’t have a problem with it, it was good company to be in.
I’ve thought about that night a lot this weekend. About how, despite no longer being together, I’ll always trust that girl implicitly when I step on stage with her, just like I used to trust my band mates back in the Ictus days. The band always used to say we’d never do it with anyone else, just because that sixth sense of understanding you develop with performers you’ve known for years, that’s too hard to find. We used to call it ‘bedroom eyes’, that look we’d give each other when a change-up was coming. That’s how I felt about her at HHK. I’ve performed with other partners, and while it’s gone well enough, there was a spark missing.
I’ve also thought a lot about how the classics never go out of style, about how the song that probably got me into hip-hop in the first place, just two guys from Queens saying nursery rhymes and big-upping their DJ could still tear the place down, 30 years after it was first released.The whole point of hip-hop was to rock a party. Despite how much time has passed, the tools for party rocking haven’t varied much, and that makes me very happy.
There’s currently no video footage of our performance, and I almost prefer it that way [if some turns up later, I’ll post it here or more likely on PFGExpress]. I like the idea of it only existing in the memories of the people who saw it, and in ours. Just one more thing she’s now staked for herself in my brain, one more item shoved into the folder of things that will always remind me of her, along with Coco by Chanel, Volkswagen Beetles and a million other things.
I once said ‘the couple that HHK’s together, stays together.’ Time might have proven me wrong, but it doesn’t mean we won’t eat a pair of microphones when called to do so. We have the medals to prove it.
It’s a reasonable question. It’s about the halfway mark of this adventure I’ve been on. I’ve read a pile of books, a stack of articles, reached out to and spoken with amazing, brilliant people, I’ve listened to Donuts and the records used to create it at least 75 times front to back [and that’s likely a conservative estimate]. So I can certainly understand why people ask.
Doesn’t mean I have any fucking clue how to formulate an answer.
But I try. People are being polite, taking an interest, and I’d like them to pay for the thing when it comes out, even if they have no intention to read it and buy it out of courtesy. I’ll take it. The popular answer, as in the one I go back to again and again is the ‘oil tanker’ response.
See, oil tankers actually consist of eight to twelve smaller tanks within the ship. Keeps the cargo from slooshing around too much, which could compromise the ship’s balance; less movement = more stability. My brain currently feels like an oil tanker with a single tank: production techniques, Soren Kierkegaard, the Kubler-Ross scale, Albert Camus, different approaches and opinions on late style, Roland Barthes, the epidemiology of lupus; all these things are just rolling around clumsily from one end of my brain to the other. I’ve given numerous lengthy and sensible ideas to the showerhead as I prepare to face each day, but this hasn’t translated into as many words on paper as I would like.
Put it another way: late last year the webcomic Toothpaste for Dinner put up a single panel gag called ‘The Creative Process.’
That seems accurate. We’re well into the ‘Fuck off’ segment of the program, far enough from deadline that panic isn’t on my back yet, but it’s waving at me from just over the horizon, a box of tissues in its twitchy hands.
And that’s fine, because I know it’ll get done. The structure of the thing, what I wanted it to accomplish, has been loosely in place since I began, a requirement of the proposal. Scenes, fragments, caveats and addenda are floating to the surface with more regularity than they once were; you can’t have all that material swishing around in your brain without something coagulating into something usable eventually. It will get done. It might have more academic meandering than the heads will want, and not enough for the theory kids, and maybe it gets savaged on Goodreads and the Stones Throw Message Board, but it’ll get done. If you’ve been with me a while, friends, you know that’ll probably end up the most surprising victory of all.
So keep asking the question. It’s good, it keeps me focused. Just don’t expect me to have an easy answer for you.
This may surprise you to learn about me, friends, but I can be a bit of a handful. Surly, seasonally depressed, emotionally volatile, all of that mess. Luckily, I’ve always been blessed with friends and associates [usually women] who are adept at negotiating the rolling waters of my emotional seas. The role is currently being filled by my friend Caitlin, who is acting as my Editorial Assistant throughout this book writing adventure, mostly because she wants me to write her a reference when it’s over. Previously the post was held by my friend Sarah, who can no longer meet the demands of the position as she is (a) a law professor and (b) has a life to live.
I met Sarah for coffee here in Toronto recently and asked her if she had any tips she wanted to pass along to Caitlin regarding what to expect in being my emotional handler for the next ten months to a year.
“It’s all very temporal,” she said. “From about mid-September up until your birthday, you’re miserable, because you’re thinking about your impending death. Late January until April is just as bad or worse, because it’s directionless, there’s nothing for you to focus it on. You just hate that it’s dark all the time. When the thaw comes, you shake out of it. Oh, and you have a minor uptick during the holidays.”
It’s true. I actually do really love the holidays. I love the way my Dad still won’t put some presents under the tree until the morning of the 25th, or the fact that he still signs them ‘From Santa’. I love my Mom’s baking and laughing about stupid shit with her. I love Christmas so much that by December 23, I’m already saddened that all the lights and decorations will come down, which probably says as much about my personality as you ever need to know [shouts to all those cities and neighbourhoods that treat Christmas lights as ‘Winter Lights’ and leave them up until March].
But what I really love about Christmas is the music. To me, the best Christmas songs are the ones that capture the joy you felt as a child, but add a sprinkle of melancholy to acknowledge the passage of time and change and loss of innocence. The popular knowledge likes to state that when you get older the season becomes something you do for your kids. As a childless, single for the first time in six years adult male, that’s not something I can do. So I find the meaning and peace and joy where I can. These are five songs that help.
1. The Pogues – ‘Fairytale of New York’
Just my opinion, the greatest Christmas song [with vocals] ever produced. Does everything I mentioned above, is beautifully melodic, Shane MacGowan’s whisky-scorched, near-tuneless voice suits the mood perfectly, and who hasn’t been longing for a Christmas song with lyrics like, ‘you scumbag, you maggot, you cheap, lousy faggot, Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it’s our last.” The coda to this one always leaves me misty, but bear in mind folks: “I built my dreams around you,” is a staggeringly gorgeous sentiment, but not an acceptable philosophy. Trust me.
2. The Vince Guaraldi Trio – ‘O Tannenbaum’
The soundtrack to ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ was a revelation to me, having only heard it for the first time maybe six or seven years ago. I remember I was at the local youth centre, where I volunteered. It was the last meeting we had with the kids before holiday break, so it was a blow-off, fun and games kind of night. Somebody brought a pile of holiday music and put this one on. And I was fucking floored. I don’t know why I never hear Guaraldi’s name mentioned more often in conversations about jazz pianists, possibly I don’t follow them closely enough, but the swing he gets going on this song just puts me at such peace. You know the spirit’s hit me when this album enters my rotation.
But the true moment of genius comes at the end of the song. Listen, I don’t know where this thing of adding the opening bars of ‘Jingle Bells’ at the end of a Christmas song came from [Nat King Cole may have been the first to do it] but it is so overdone anymore. It’s a lazy and manipulative way to accomplish what I stated above, because no grown person really likes ‘Jingle Bells’. Can you find me one? No. ‘Jingle Bells’ is a song for kids, which is fine, but all these shit-ass Christmas songs that put a few tinkles on the outro to make you go ‘D’awww…‘ are disgusting. You know what Guaraldi does? Jump to the 4:53 mark. He plays ‘Jingle Bells’, but he plays a totally deconstructed version of it, in 3/4 time signature. You can hear ‘Jingle Bells’ in it, but it’s not really ‘Jingle Bells.’ THAT‘S why this is the best Christmas song ever, just nudging out the Pogues. Gets me every time.
3. Vanessa Williams – ‘What Child is This?’
Never let it be said I wanted to take the “Christ’ out of ‘Christmas.’ The simple fact is, I was raised Catholic. Whatever my feelings toward the faith as an adult, that shit will stay with you.
This rendition comes from one of those ‘Very Special Christmas’ compilations from like…1992, I think. It’s a fairly straightahead jazz arrangement of ‘Greensleeves’ but might have extra resonance for me now, since I remember watching this video as a kid in the subterranean hidey-hole I’d carved out in my parents’ basement, looking at the black and white shots of New York and thinking, to borrow a phrase, ‘I want to go to there.’ Twenty years later, I made it to Toronto. It’ll do.
4. James Taylor – ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’
That rare Christmas song that acknowledges, without self-pity, that the holidays sometimes heighten the fact that the twelve months leading up to them might have been horrible.
In a year we all will be together, if the fates allow. Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow…
I’ve heard versions of this song that back away from that last line, changing it to ‘hang a shining star upon the highest bough…’ NO. That undercuts the entire meaning of the song, which is to provide comfort for those who might not be exceedingly happy during a time when the world demands that of them. It’s the depressive’s holiday carol, and who better than James Taylor to deliver it? Bonus points go to this version for pulling a Guaraldi and dropping half a lyric of ‘The Christmas Song’ on the outro.
5. Ella Fitzgerald – ‘What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?’
I first heard this song on a Gap commercial, of all things. Rufus Wainwright sang the chorus at about five times the speed he should have, but hey, thirty-second ad spot, what can you do? I thought there might actually be a better version of this somewhere, as Fitzgerald’s voice bugs me sometimes [BLASPHEMY!] but there really isn’t, except maybe for Lena Horne’s which does a weird pronoun flip I’m not a fan of, suggesting the woman should wait for the man to ask her. You stand up for equality, Ella.
Again, this is one of those songs that stares down the potential for loneliness in the season and finds the truth and beauty in it. The singer is well aware he or she is overreaching by asking the other person to spend New Year’s, but the potential embarrassment trumps the guaranteed solitude of not asking. Also interesting to note: the original lyric has the singer mustering a bit of confidence with, ‘Ah, but in case I stand one little chance…’ in Wainwright’s version from the commercial, he sings, ‘And though I know I’ll never stand a chance…’ So nineties.
So, that’s what I’ll be relaxing to in a couple of weeks as I catch up on reading and eat too many brownies at my parents’ place. Let me know if I glaringly missed one. And no, I didn’t forget this. Too obvious.
They say if you love it, you should let it out its cage
And fuck it, if it comes back you know it’s there to stay.
Thirty-five. That’s how long I was going to give it. The great thing about writing is you can do it no matter how old you are, no matter where you are on the planet. But after three years of futzing around with half-finished short stories, blog entries and excuses, I was starting to think that, if by the time I turned 35, I didn’t have anything to show for this dying dream I’d been dragging around like Django with his coffin, I’d just hang it up and embrace mediocrity. Find some office data entry job with decent benefits and something resembling an RRSP. Blog a bit on the side, but never doubt my place, or lack thereof in it.
Then, an acquaintance of mine [and author of the volume on Portishead’s Dummy], blogged about the open call for submissions to Continuum’s excellent series of music guides, 33 1/3. I’d always romantically daydreamed on how cool it would be to write one of them, so I started musing on what album I would do if I could: Midnight Marauders. The Shape of Punk to Come. Albums I love, but nothing that could summon the sort of passion necessary to pump out a 50-80,000 monograph on it. Like so many other things I think about doing, I put it to the side, tried to forget about it a couple of weeks before the deadline.
That weekend, I’m standing in line at the 7-11 on my way home from work at around 11.00 pm, grabbing a carton of milk for the morning. The girl in front of me is buying what looks to be her groceries for the week and fumbling in her purse for her wallet, dropping a vial of white on the floor in the process. When I get over what I’m witnessing [country mouse ain’t never seen coke in person before], I pull my headphones out and scroll through something to listen to.
I want to listen to Donuts, I think to myself. I haven’t listened to that in a while.I pay for my milk as the accelerating churn of ‘Workinonit’ kicks in and step out into the cool Toronto night.
Man, someone should do a 33 1/3 onthis album, I think. That could be amazing.
I stopped at the corner. Wait. I should write a book on this album.
So, in a rare flurry of energy, I put a proposal together. That was in April. In June, I got word that my proposal for Donuts made it through the first round of cuts, from 471 to 94. Enough of an achievement on its own, certainly something to be proud of. I said at the time, I knew I’d had a good idea about the book, something no one had stumbled on before, I thought I deserved to make the second round. Which, if you know me, is not the sort of thing I’m prone to saying. So, I got what I wanted. But man, wouldn’t it be cool to actually get the go ahead to write it?
I was sitting at a cubicle at the company home office when my phone buzzed, alerting me to an email from the editors of the series. I froze, and started prepping myself for the letdown. It’s okay, I told myself, to make the shortlist your first time out, that’s an accomplishment in itself. You couldn’t reasonably expect them to take a chance on an unknown property like you. “It’s an honour just to be nominated,” right?
I tapped the email, and skimmed it. All I saw was ‘accepted,’ and my stomach dropped. Son of a bitch. I got it.
I couldn’t talk about it publicly right away, until the publishers had all their ducks in a row. I got the green light email on Aug 31.
People ask my if I’m excited. I mean, of course I am, but it’s going to be a hell of a lot of work in the meantime, plus my personal life’s been simultaneously enduring no small amount of upheaval. Now that that’s settled, and contracts are on the way, interview subjects have started being reached out to, I can start to appreciate the fact that I’m actually going to do the one thing I’ve always wanted to do, that I’m moving from observer to participant. And I realize that there are probably going to be more than a few people wondering, ‘Who the fuck is Jordan Ferguson?’
All I can say is I’m a guy who is well aware what the work of Dilla and this album in particular means to people, because it means the same to me. And I’m a guy who wants to write this book not to get myself over, but because I want to celebrate the man’s work, life, and music. Other than that, y’all will just have to trust me. I promise I won’t make you regret it.
Feature image by Happy Sleepy. Found on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.
It’s Sunday, and more than that it’s Canada Day, which means I really should be out somewhere drinking instead of holed up in this café trying to give all y’all something to read [really, you could just read my recap of how I spent last Canada Day. It’s much more entertaining]. And while there will be a very nerdy post discussing my relationship with Joss Whedon and the similarities between Firefly and Cowboy Bebop, that’ll be a little more labour intensive, and I really should watch all of the former series before commenting. It might surprise me in the end [spoiler alert – Cowboy Bebop : Me :: Firefly : Whedonites]. So I thought it might be more appropriate to discuss moves and projects and things of that sort. It’s so rare when I have something worth telling.
I didn’t make mention of it at the time because I’m a superstitious sort, but my proposal to the 33 1/3 Series of record guides made the short list. Leading up to the announcement, I was telling people I only wanted to make the shortlist. I was pretty certain I’d stumbled into a good idea, and felt I deserved to make the shortlist. That was all the validation I really needed. Then I made the shortlist and thought, ‘Well…this is nice, and I feel validated….but it would be really awesome to write the goddamn thing.’ Friends, I’ll tell y’all the same thing I told my therapist: if 33 1/3 doesn’t want it, I’ll try to find somewhere else for it. It’s still a good idea, it’s still a story that needs telling, and since it appears I’m the only one here interested in telling it, it might as well be me.’ The Editors say the final slate will get announced late this month. You can check out my competition here. Wish me luck.
Had somebody ask me why the last mix I posted was labeled ‘Episode 9’. It would appear some people don’t pay attention, I’ve been fudging around with podcasting for over a year. I only recently moved to Soundcloud [finding the WordPress integration a little easier], but previous to that I was using PodOmatic, which is still a great service, it’s just a little clunkier when it comes to sharing. But if anyone’s been curious in revisiting the archives, they can be found on the old PodOmatic feed. They’re far more blabbery than the recent ones are, on account of making them on my old laptop with GarageBand, making mixing impossible. But you may find something there to enjoy. Anything new will get cycled through the Soundclound account, with ample warning when something’s going down to make room for something else.
Speaking of finding things to enjoy, did you know I have a Tumblr?! I’d forgive if you if you didn’t. I forget it a lot of the time, but I’ve recently rediscovered its usefulness for sharing quick hits of things I enjoy. Chances are any song that ends up on a future podcast will get some shine on my Tumblr first [I see you, Knxwledge]. Additionally, I’ve been talking to my former bandmates about starting a sort of creative collective to share things we make ourselves and collaborate on. I admit I’m a little skittish about putting my creative heart on the line like that since we’re all grown ass men with other things demanding our attention, but I remain optimistic. If it does start popping off, Tumblr will be playing a larger role in my day to day. So follow me now.
Finally, I took a new photo for the header. I’ll be trying to swap them out more regularly, since it gives me an excuse to take urban panoramas on my phone.
I think it’s time to go find a location where beef is being charred over some sort of flame. Happy Canada Day, y’all.