Weekly Churn 017: Maschine

Ahoy! This is the Weekly Churn, where every Sunday I post about what I’ve been reading, watching, and thinking about over the previous week. Apparently in addition to skipping another week, I’ve also been forgetting my little intro thing the last few weeks. Anyway, it’s been a time, and updates will be brief for a while. We were in Owen Sound last weekend, and it was mostly good, but emotional stuff related to my mother came up and I don’t even know what’s going on with that anymore. Work has gotten very stressful and a lot of the other stuff has just kind of been shunted to the side while I deal with being deeply in the shit with regard to deadlines. I haven’t even been able to read Sidewalk Labs’ MIDP, which would have been top on my list of priorities a month or two ago. I used to… Continue Reading

Weekly Churn 016: The Music That We Make

I haven’t had a chance to do much reading in the last week. I’m still on Sarah Tolmie’s excellent new novel, The Little Animals. Part of me thinks that I’m procrastinating, trying to make it last. Her books are satisfying in a way that’s difficult to articulate. I’d compare her work to Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, because I think it offers the same kind of satisfaction, but her work doesn’t actually have much in common with his beyond that satisfaction, so I worry such a comparison could be misleading. As I’ve said on Twitter, The Little Animals, like both Two Travelers and The Stone Boatmen, is a kind, gentle, and generous book. But there is no naïveté here, no empty fan service, no carelessness. Tolmie’s books always unfold with the sense of inevitability that accompanies superior craft; her books are as they are because that is the best… Continue Reading

Weekly Churn 015: Natch

After more than two weeks, I’ve finally finished digitizing my music collection. All my CDs are sorted into boxes to donate to charity, with one box set aside for me to keep. My In Praise of Borders set lists have all been rebuilt, to the extent that they could be given the holes in my records. There wound up being 29 volumes; 26 original set lists and three discs worth of material that I know for sure I played but aren’t featured on any of the surviving lists. The final song of the final volume is “Natch,” by Cornershop and featuring Bubbley Kaur. The opening bars of “Natch” were part of my favourite station ID spot when I was a DJ at CKLU. It was put together by Natalie B., everyone’s favourite host, and I played it every show, if I could. There are two “next steps” for my music:… Continue Reading

Weekly Churn 014: In Praise of Borders

Ahoy! This is the Weekly Churn, where every Sunday I post about what I’ve been reading, watching, and thinking about over the previous week. The organizing of my music collection continues. I’ve got everything sorted between keep and donate, and everything I want to donate has been digitized to the extent that I am able (some CDs just don’t want to cooperate, and I have yet to find digital copies of those albums available for purchase, or indeed physical ones), and now I’ve moved on to the playlists from my radio station days. For those of you know don’t know, I had a radio show called In Praise of Borders on CKLU 96.7 FM in Sudbury from summer 2004 until spring 2005. The title was stolen from an essay by Stephen Henighan, whose work I generally don’t much care for but who is good at titles. The idea behind the… Continue Reading

Weekly Churn 013: Moving Forward While Looking Back

Ahoy! This is the Weekly Churn, where every Sunday I post about what I’ve been reading, watching, and thinking about over the previous week. This post is a week late, for a variety of reasons. I’d say it won’t happen again, but I’d likely be lying. Mark Doten’s work was recommended to me by Canadian author Andrew Sullivan. He’d actually recommended The Infernal, but I couldn’t find any copies of that. Trump Sky Alpha had just come out, so I decided to start there instead. Holy shit, what a ride. In brief: the world has ended, more or less, in the fire of nuclear war at the hands of Donald Trump and God only knows who else. A year after the event, with the world in ruins and the survivors picking up the pieces, Rachel, a former journalist who now spends her days matching faces of bodies to photographs of… Continue Reading

Weekly Churn 003: Haunted

Ahoy! This is the Weekly Churn, where every Sunday I post about what I’ve been reading, watching, and thinking about over the previous week. What are the things that haunt you? I was thinking about that on Monday when I saw this story about Rosie, the corpse of a white pointer shark abandoned in a vat of formaldehyde. The images of Rosie are quite bracing; she floats suspended in murk, silent, motionless, appearing no less lethal than she would have in life—her stillness may even amplify that effect. Dom Krapski writes that seeing Rosie surrounded by “crap” spoils the haunting experience, but Gary Moore’s photographs leave me with a different impression. The stuff in the tank intensifies that haunted feeling for me. I can imagine the tank being cleaned out by human hands, but it is not possible for me to do so without me also imagining the shark slowly,… Continue Reading

Soon This Will All Be Gone, by catl

Full disclosure: I was the copyeditor for the cover art of Soon This Will All Be Gone, but I had no involvement with the music; indeed, I haven’t even met the band in person. I went to see catl with a friend of mine a little over a year ago. I had just heard With the Lord For Cowards You Will Find No Place, and events had arranged themselves so that they were doing a show at the Horseshoe at a time when I actually had the money to go. We sat through a couple of warm-up acts, one band so forgettable I can’t even remember what kind of music they played, and another a slightly better than average dad-rock band, the sort of unit you expect Jim Belushi to front on his off days. Our conversation was not interrupted. And then it was catl’s turn. I’ve been to some… Continue Reading

Music to Read By

So last night’s post about the blues was sort of accidental. I had intended to write about what I listen to when I read. For years I was the sort of person who could read anywhere, regardless of what was going on around me. In university, when reading suddenly became important to my future (in terms of my career, I mean; I’m a book critic—as in, reviewer—now, but I once wanted to teach university-level English Literature and work as an academic critic/theorist), I lost the ability to read in the same room as someone watching television. And then I couldn’t read while listening to music with lyrics. And then I couldn’t read while listening to any sort of music. Most of that has passed, and I can once again listen to music while I read, although anything too heavy or uptempo, or with complicated lyrics I like to get lost… Continue Reading

Drinking, Fighting, and Fucking: Lessons in the Real Folk Blues

It’s no secret that I’m a huge blues fan. An argument could be made that the blues, as a genre, is at the core of all modern Western popular music, from jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, and country, right up to dubstep and digital hardcore. But that’s not why I love it. There are so many things about it that appeal to me it’s hard to know where to start. It’s a music that has remained vital, emotionally and spiritually, for more than a century, maintaining both a strong connection to its roots and originating forms, and at the same time embracing new styles and techniques. Charlie Patton, who died in 1934 somewhere in his forties (nobody knows for sure how old he was), could rise from the dead and would be able to hear catl or The Black Keys and not only understand their music, but recognize it as his… Continue Reading