babe we both had dry spells, hard times, badlands

>> Saturday, March 15, 2008

I have been in love with Bruce Springsteen my entire life.

Allow me to explain. I don't remember the first time I heard a Springsteen song. If I had to guess I'd say it was Dancing in the Dark on the adult contemporary station my parents listened to. I don't remember always loving him. I probably only started liking his music when I was about 11 or 12. But once I got into it I knew. I find it difficult to explain. Maybe I was just a melancholy child, but I remember being in the 7th grade, sitting on my bedroom carpet and leaning against the bed, listening to Thunder Road. I remember knowing what he was talking about. Before I even entered high school I (stupidly or not) dreaded the end of it, because I knew what it would be like. I used to sit on the back steps of my high school, watching the sun set, thinking of how sad it would be when it was over. And yes, some of that may be buying into that beauty of youth/heartland/americana bullshit. I know it. I can't help it though - that stuff is a powerful draw (even for a non-American). But I've never felt like Springsteen was fooling me. I felt like he was honestly figuring things out, and if he wasn't being honest, then at least he was being fun. And he hasn't stopped. He hasn't left his best work to his early career (in defiance of that youth-is-best stuff) and continues to find ...I was going to say 'new ways to be relevant' but that sounds like garbage. But it's basically what I'm getting at.

I've come to appreciate his range and his ability to be serious about what he does without being too serious about himself. All that riding-out-tonight-to-case-the-Promised-Land stuff aside (and no, that is not my favourite album), my favourite image of The Boss is from his pre-Boss days - the skinny Jersey kid running up and down the stage with a bandanna or some ridiculous hat on his head, clowning around with Clarence Clemons, no trace of the Born in the USA body to come in sight.

A close second, of course, is those awesome bolos in the late 80s. Tunnel of Love is so under-rated.



>> Friday, March 14, 2008

I know that linking to other things is lazy. But I like it. So I think anyone who reads this should check out these comics:

Kate Beaton



eve of destruction

>> Sunday, March 9, 2008

There are very few events in my life I describe as "life-changing". Mostly this is because changes tend to occur in small increments and over time and the results are only noticeable in retrospect. But a very few short events are life altering and their effects are immediately apparent. I would describe my introduction to George Orwell in this way.
Assigned as required reading in grade 12 (prior to my reading 1984 the next year) was his essay, Politics and the English Language. I remember my classmates making really intelligent observations such as "but the term 'pretentious diction' is... pretentious!" while I sat there absorbing the genius my young mind had just been exposed to. It changed my conception of what good writing was, and by extension the way I wrote myself. Like many 16-year olds I had been given to using unnecessarily long or 'fancy' words wherever possible to show off how much I knew. But Orwell showed me the error of my ways. Not only was I being silly, but I was (worse!) contributing to the decline of the English language. Since then I have developed a great love affair with being both clear and concise. Orwell's essay taught me to think about what I write (and say) and what I hope to accomplish through each. If the purpose of language is to communicate with others, then we should pay attention to how well we are doing just that.

I haven't perfected anything (no kidding) but I have tried. Every once in a while one of the rules pops into my head: if it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out! (probably my favourite one). It's also the work I most recommend (/insist) to friends that they read.

And so, I insist again:

Politics and the English Language


monster ballads

>> Wednesday, March 5, 2008

more later. But for now: I love Josh Ritter.


let me tell you about my boat

>> Sunday, March 2, 2008

I hate that the Vinyl Cafe is only an hour long. My favourite thing to do on a Sunday is lie in bed and listen to the Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean at noon on CBC Radio (I suppose I could have started with the "favourite" thing, instead of the "I hate" thing, but I guess it says something about me). Anyway, the problem is that very often I'm only half awake at noon on a Sunday. This morning, in fact, I drifted back into sleep about 10 minutes into the show and when I came to again it was nearly over. At that point I was fully awake, just in time for Wiretap. I don't even know if that really is a bad show, I just know that I don't like the host's voice so I have to get up and go to the living room.

So my actual point is this: Vinyl Cafe should be two hours long. Not an hour later (though that might seem like a solution, it isn't). I enjoy the process - and believe me, it is a process - of waking up to a show I like, as I do with the Current on weekday mornings. Two hours seems to do it. And since school this year is interfering with my weekday radio listening (9am classes! My god!), I rely on my weekends for this indulgence.

My second point of discussion is one I have already mentioned: voices. Specifically, men's voices. I love the sound of a nice, rich, male voice. It's even better when they're articulate. I don't like ones that are whiny or too high. This is one reason I find Patrick Dempsey unattractive. It took me a while to figure out the exact reason why he annoys me, but I finally decided that (besides his girly hair) it's his voice. It's just not very masculine. Stuart McLean has a nice voice, but I think it's mostly the distinctive accent that I find comforting about it. On the subway and in streetcars (and, I assume, buses, but I don't take those) they now announce all the stops with a pre-recorded female voice. Often female voices are used for things like this - elevators, telephone hold messages, etc. I believe they're meant to be calming and non-intrusive. However, I do think that a nice man's voice can be equally comforting. Plus, the lady's voice on the subway always sounds like she's bored and exasperated with me, would I just get off already?


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this here ma blog.

I like to talk about things I have no particular expertise in. Especially music.

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