Go ahead and admit it. It takes a special kind of person (a philosopher?) to enjoy reading philosophical texts. They’re always blabbing about what it means to be and the different ways and kinds of knowing, and lots of times they’re doing it in foreign languages, but even when they are, technically, speaking English, they’re not. Does it have to be this way? You certainly don’t think so. So go ahead, just say it right out loud: It takes a special kind of person to read philosophy, and I am not that kind of person. There, see? You feel better already.
But wait – what if I were to tell you that you’re completely right, it doesn’t have to be that way? What if I told you that there is a person for whom philosophy makes sense and that this person wants to make it make sense for you, too?
Two words: Philosophy Bro. Okay, more than two words – the blog is a little on the newish side and also quite, shall we say, of a sort with its summaries, so if you’ve got a paper due tomorrow on What Is It Like To Be A Bat?, my most heartfelt suggestion to you is that you get thee to a library. But Philosophy Bro can most definitely lend a hand to any civilian who’s just kind of wondering what the hell a dude like Descartes was getting at, or for someone who is Rand Curious but can’t realistically imagine slogging through 1000+ pages of Atlas Shrugged in the original Tedious Crapese, he’s done some really exceptional work with his translation of “This is John Galt Speaking”:
You make life hardest for the greatest bros, the ones who make your life easiest; the more we make, the more you take. Calling it ‘taxes’ doesn’t make it right; it’s theft. We’ve stood by and let it happen, unable to believe that anyone could really be that dumb. Well, Fuck. That. Noise. That ends right now. We are done being made to feel guilty, being blamed and hated, because we make shit happen. We’re done being sacrificed. When you make criminals out of the men who build you houses, don’t complain when you have to live in caves, bro. There’s a guy who built a thing that lets you fly through the sky in an air conditioned room. Of course he’s rich, because flying is fucking awesome and people will pay him to do it. If your world says he’s evil, I don’t want to live in it.
They were steam-powered, coal-fired, belt-driven and studded with vibratodes as Rachel Maines, technology historian and author of The Technology of Orgasm explains. I thank her for introducing me to the term “vibratode,” and to the phrase “hedonizing technology.” She gives an eye-opening account of the social, medical and technological history of self-pleasure, replete with self-deceptions, hypocrisies and rooftop Chattanoogas.
But in any case, there’s the connection with hydrotherapy and then you wonder why Saratoga was so popular in the 19th century, especially with women? The men would go off and gamble and the women would go for the water cure. And some times it was very respectable and, you know, they just bathed at the water and everything was cool but there was also a thing called the douche, the Scotch douche, that was, I’ve seen pictures of it, it was pretty startling. Anyway…
Travel in the entertaining company of a man made of equal parts bullshit and inspiration, in what is ultimately a twisted panegyric to the power of strange music to change people from the inside out.
At turns funny and strangely sobering, this “found memoir” is a picaresque tale of inspired, heroic deceit, incompetence, and – just possibly – triumph. Follow the flailing escapades of maverick music manager Campbell Ouiniette at the Calgary Folk Festival, as he leaves a trail of empty liquor bottles, cigarette butts, bruised egos, and obliterated relationships behind him. His top headlining act has abandoned him for the Big Time. In a fit of self-delusion or pure genius (or perhaps a bit of both), Ouiniette devises an intricate scam, a last hurrah in an attempt to redeem himself in the eyes of his girlfriend, the music industry, and the rest of the world. He reveals his path of destruction in his own transparently self-justifying, expulsive, profane words, with digressions into the Edmonton hardcore punk rock scene, the Yugoslavian Civil War, and other epicentres of chaos.
Colonel Kurtz of Klezmer and friend of the site, Geoff Berner is off on a 7-stop dead-of-Winter tour of western Canada. He is promoting his new novel, Festival Man out on Dundurn press, but fear not, music fans, he’s still bringing the accordion and the bad attitude. Here in Edmonton, he’ll be playing the Wunderbar Friday and Saturday. We got him on the horn during this week’s Ipso Factory on CJSR 88.5 FM, discussing such matters as the agony of letters, the ecstasy of Punk, and the many moods of Stephen Harper.
Check out the interview below, or listen to the entire show here.
ps. The Saturday show was superb. If not Dionysus, certainly Bacchus descended. Opener and accompanist, Kris Demeanor provided ample proof that he deserves his awards and accolades (Poet Laureate of Calgary, Alberta).
There were none but Scotsmen present at the event in question so we cannot claim to have a reliable account of what went on, but, according to at least one scurvy Caledonian, it began with a general malaise that settled on the city of Glasgow. A restless dissatisfaction held the entire population in its grip. Blandly and blindly, the people went through their daily routines, stopping at the chip shop for breakfast, lunch, tea, and after-last-call snacks. They ordered haddock, cod, blood sausage, haggii, scotch pies, pork pies, and pizza slices, all of them rolled in batter, deep fried, and served with thick, jaundiced, fat-soaked chips. And though their bellies were filled as usual and their unkempt Highland whiskers well-oiled in the process, something was missing. Scottish eating habits remained as disgusting as ever, but the thrill, for the Scots, was gone. Even visitors, strangers to local custom, had ceased to gape in horror and amazement when catching sight of the natives choking down their oleaginous dinners, and the Department of Tourism recorded a decrease in revenue as a result. From the lowliest benighted blue-faced Pict to the faculty of the Department of Bellicose Nationalism at the University of Strathclyde, the entire nation felt a slight but demoralizing affront to its pride. Once word made its way north of Hadrian’s Wall that Cockneys had taken to eating curry-sauce sundaes for dessert, it was clear to all that something had to be done.
Scottish cuisine was in crisis. Rancorous debate in the newly convened Scottish House of Parliament led to the resignation of Hamish McHamish, Honourable Minister for Mince and Tatties. But hopelessly divided as it was along religious and clan lines, the House could take no decisive steps. The MPs eventually agreed to disagree–and of course to continue throwing large rocks at one another.
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Santino Fontana and David Furr of the Broadway production of The Importance of Being Earnest deliver some Jersey Shore witticisms in Wilde character. Whilst ever Jersey Shore can be satirized, hope yet remains.
Many more after the jump.
by Andrew Loewen on January 17, 2014
I am delighted to bring you the second edition of our Paltry Sapien interview series, 10×10, this time with the multi-talented Charles Demers.
When I was about 18 I got a tattoo of Charlie Chaplin down the length of my right bicep. There’s probably no ‘meeting-of-worlds’ that I’ve spent more time thinking about than I have the space where politics meets comedy.
1) You wear three distinct hats as comedian, author, and activist; at the same time, your comedic sensibilities infuse your writing, your activism colors your comedic material, etc. Are there differing drives and motivations underlying your pursuit of these outlets, or is it all of a piece?
That’s a really good question. My friend Max Fawcett has, written in his ‘something about yourself’ box on Facebook, a variation on Whitman: “I contain multitudes, but they’re all pretty much the same.” While the work often feels very different, and certainly lets me change up the emphasis – here trying primarily to be funny, there being primarily political or historical, here being very personal – it does, for me, seem to be coming from mostly the same wellspring. What I’m sort of working on is trying to make the disparate works make sense to people, the audience, as part of a whole. But at the beginning, it was hard to get people interested in both the books and the comedy.
The worlds of literary writing and stand-up comedy exist in almost complete isolation from each other, which to me is insane, given the overlap – attention to language, ideas, observation.
My ongoing efforts to broaden the Youtubular footprint of Mr. Jerry Jerry have yielded further strange fruit in the form of this video for Smart (I’m Smart) from the stripped-down solo effort The Sound and the Jerry (1997). I had thought to go with the Marx Brothers, or maybe mad scientists (saving the immortal Herbert West for when I tackle Wierd), but for reasons that surpass my own understanding, I settled on a mishmash of Daniel Day-Lewis characters. If Jerry ever releases an extended dance remix, I’ll cut the video again with some ripe footage from Nine spliced in.
Jerry Jerry ~ Smart (I’m Smart)
Intelligence is force, insight is violence, wit is aggressive display.
If you don’t tune in to the Majority Report, let me recommend that you do. Sam Seder and the boys offer the funniest, most incisive news commentary mixed up with excellent, typically insurgent tunes. Recently there was some confusion amongst the messaging listeners as to whose tune is Stop Breaking Down – it’s a Robert Johnson composition, though most people would know the Rolling Stones’ version, and on the Majority Report, it’s the White Stripes recording that gets regular play.
Full disclosure: I am a Member and you should be one too.
It occurred to me that the version they really ought to be playing is by DC punks Pussy Galore from their cease-and-desist, cassette-only, treatment of Exile on Main St.(1986). Hence the video I’ve concocted above. Yes, the cassette skwirrls are in the original.
You can enjoy all of Pussy Galore’s po-mo lo-fi re-imagining of Exile On Main St. here. But upon further reflection, and considering the caliber of personality populating the US political scene these days, perhaps Dick Johnson is a more apt song altogether (it’s certainly a much better video):
Jon Spencer ≥ Jagger+Richards
More than just your average timepiece, the Old Town Clock of Prague, or Orloj, can tell you what time it is and what date. It also tells you what the heavens should look like from where it stands. It tells you what time to expect sun rise and set, what lunar phase the moon should appear in, and even which Zodiacal sign is in ascendence. Elsewhere on the tower, there is an Apostle Walk. In the way it combines Christian characters, knowledge of astronomy, and elements of the mystic, all powered by, then, state of the art engineering, the Orloj offers a fascinating window on the Renaissance mind.
The 600th anniversary of the tower’s founding was celebrated this year in suitably exceptional fashion as the whole of its history (and the history of Prague) as well as it’s construction and workings was depicted against it in light and sound. The tower itself serves in the show as canvas, setting, recurrent theme, anatomy subject, main character and witness.
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Change socks… Don’t get lonesome… Dream good… Wake up and fight. (Yes, these are his doodles, too)
Originally posted, Dec. 31, 2011
Of Pomp and Circumcision
Assuming that that clip has only whetted your appetite for Doo-Dah Da-Da, below is Crank, broadcast in 1995 as an obituary salute and touchingly introduced by John Peel.
I have to admit that I was always slightly alarmed by Viv in the flesh, not only because of his sometimes unusual behavior, but by the feeling that I was face to face with someone whose thought processes were not only very different to mine but vastly superior.
Part 1: Absurd Rather Than Fatuous
If you are dreaming of a brown Christmas, this post is for you. First, a Christmas card from Cyriak, none of his usual fractal madness, just a fairly standard-issue nightmare Noel. Nevertheless, we bid you view with caution.
Second, a seasonal song originally from Radio Free Vestibule, a loon trio from Montreal now going by the more wield-friendly the Vestibules.
Christmas on Acid
And now that things are kicking in nicely, we return to Cyriak. Please, sir, we need a nativity scene with these critters.
¡Feliz Navidad, Compañeros
And, finally, some Catalonian spice for your nog.
Tió de Nadal
The Tió de Nadal, meaning in English “Christmas Log”), also known simply as Tió (“trunk” or “log”, a big piece of cut wood) or Tronca (“log”) and popularly called Caga tió (“shitting log”), is a character in Catalan mythology relating to a Christmas tradition widespread in Catalonia. A similar tradition exists in other places such as the Cachafuòc or Soc de Nadal in Occitania, or the Tizón de Nadal or Tronca de Nabidá in Aragon, regions with a common history.
The form of the Tió de Nadal found in many Catalan homes during the holiday season is a hollow log of about thirty centimetres length. Recently, the tió has come to stand up on two or four little stick legs with a broad smiling face painted on the higher of the two ends, enhanced by a little red sock hat (a miniature of the traditional Catalan barretina) and often a three-dimensional nose. Those accessories have been added only in recent times, altering the more traditional and rough natural appearance of a dead piece of wood.
Beginning with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), one gives the tió a little bit to “eat” every night and usually covers him with a little blanket so that he will not be cold at night.
On Christmas day or, depending on the particular household, on Christmas Eve, one puts the tió partly into the fireplace and orders it to “shit” (the fire part of this tradition is no longer as widespread as it once was, since many modern homes do not have a fireplace). To make him “shit”, one beats him with sticks, while singing various songs of Tió de Nadal.
The tió does not drop larger objects, as those are considered to be brought by the Three Wise Men. It does leave candies, nuts and torrons. Depending on the part of Catalonia, it may also give out dried figs. When nothing is left to “shit”, it drops a salt herring, a head of garlic, an onion or “urinates”. What comes out of the tió is a communal rather than individual gift, shared by everyone present.
In addition to the names listed in the opening paragraph, the additional nickname Caga tió, “shitting log”) derives from the many songs of Tió de Nadal that begin with this phrase, which was originally (in the context of the songs) an imperative (“shit log!”). The use of this expression as a name is not believed to be part of the ancient tradition.
shit nougats (turrón),
hazelnuts and cottage cheese,
if you don’t shit well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
An alternate version goes something like this:
log of Christmas,
don’t shit herrings,
which are too salty,
shit nougats (turrón)
which are much better!
After hitting it softly with a stick during the song, it is hit harder on the words Caga tió!. Then somebody puts their hand under the blanket and takes a gift. The gift is opened and then the song begins again.