Monday

materialism

so having ripped all my cds onto my computer, and lugging that around the country instead (it's actually a very small computer that dan built for me), i come home and re-discover the absolute joy of putting on a record. it really is worth having a piece of plastic that you can carry around the house in it's own special box, vinyl especially, with no bloody fan noise in the background over the quite bits. having everything on the computer's great for making mix cds, or randomising over the entire collection, but it's not as much fun as the less convienient alternative. i have a small wall of records (i'm including compact discs as records too) here at the farm, and it really is a pleasure to spend time with them.

does this make me a materialistic person? am i enjoying the objects rather than the immaterial music? or does encapsulating the music in a solid form make the music itself more enjoyable? i've never thought of myself as a materialistic person, quite the opposite. i've always justified my love of having music as an immaterial want, since music is itself immaterial. but it is undeniably a commodity too.

hmmmmm.

so a couple of weeks after gorky's split up, ooberman reform! oh fortuna.

there was just a really wierd episode of the simpons on - bart is recruited as the rebelious one in a boy band that happens to consist of his school mates. the band are used to subliminally recruit children into the navy, their first single having the 'nonsense' chorus of 'yvan eht nioj'. so there's quite a heavy accusation here aimed at the power of the music industry, and maybe i read the whole thing to deeply thinking about maintainace of the status quo, record company links to arms manufacturers, &c. it takes a turn for the wierder when n-sync turn up, doing parodies of themselves. i thought this was a satire - actually it seems it's just pally ribbing. this made me worry even more about the satire - the whole episode has 'join the navy' in every minute. ok, they're joking about it, but isn't that still going to have an affect on the viewers? it just seemed wierd to me. not that it wasn't a funny episode. now every time i see n-sync i'll think 'join the navy'.

stupid fox company.

Sunday

cities and memory

i had a dream that a girl really, really liked me, and i discovered a new cheat for street fighter 2 turbo.

i had a dream about log too, that was decidely more erotic than the one about the girl, but unlike andy's famous 'eminem' dream i was still straight and didn't enjoy it.

so what's wrong with me? it shouldn't be like this. i want a dream where i have sex with a woman and really like it. is that too much to ask? what do i have to do to get this (aside from having sex in the real world)? porn doesn't help - one just ends up dreaming of watching porn (er, so i've heard). i wish people like alan moore would stop going on about how great sex is.

i really feel that every book i've read recently has given me a better understanding of reality. the very tight threesome of 'godel escher bach', 'chance and necessity' and 'mind hacks' cross over and enhance each other so well. if only i could remember all this stuff when i'm trying to tell people that truth matters (another book i have to read). now i'm reading 'the axemaker's gift', which sits very well on the shelf next to 'power & greed' (a gift from rach), both of which, as pop/psycho histories of culture, pretty much do what they say in the title. i've only just got up to the first cities in axemaker, and fortunately danny just happened to send italo calvino's stunning 'invisible cities' to my mum. the two go so well together - it's impossible for me to read about the founding of uruk, the city of gilgamesh, without reading the beautiful, timeless cities imagined by calvino (annoyingly, calvino is another one who goes on about sex as if it's something normal people do). i need the flavour as well as the ingredients list. because that's how these cities must have seemed to the rural types, when the only way to get news was to have it filtered through every farmhand between here and there, of course people believed in legends. i'm fascinated by the ancient world in this respect, it must have seemed physically different.

does anyone wonder what happened to animal man after grant morrison finished with him? sequart has the answer. i was a little disappointed with the last couple of books. maybe i read them too quickly. the whole thing was very book of job-like, i thought; i suppose i'll have to read bohm (what a fascinating life)'s 'unfolding meaning' which was frequently alluded to and probably what morrison was actually trying to say, via the dc universe's 'crisis on infinite earths'.

last night i fell asleep watching ripping yarns, with my duvet over me and pansy on my lap. i woke a couple of minutes later at the sound of michael palin shouting something about frogs being in danger. the only memory i had of the series, which is still very funny in a 'take one tiny part of monty python and make a whole series of it' way, was the end of one episode, where the camera pulls back as a mother stands in the atrium of her country manor, her entire family lying dead around her. something about the pathos of it has truly stayed with me my whole life, i don't know why. i was talking to my father about a cartoon i saw in wizzer and chips (possibly, it could have been buster) as a youngster that i've always remembered; a man standing in front of a telly, his head tilted back 90 degrees with the hilt of a sword coming just out of his mouth. a man on the telly was saying "...and next week, we'll tell you how to take it out." interestingly, mitri remembered the same joke architecture with a different situation and said he'd always remembered it. however, i can't remember why we talking about this.

Saturday

get off my promised land

hi! i'm back. and what adventures i've been having!

i've had no adventures.

since i finished thief 2, i thought maybe i should do some actual writing and critique the entire trilogy. i think i still might. maybe after i finish deus ex 2 and roll it all into one, since the story is kind of entwined. but then i'd have to go through the entire looking glass games back catalogue, so i think i'll just stick to thief. doing 'proper' writing was always part of the plan on here, as well as stuff that's only interesting to you lot.

my brother's written something about his experiences of school - sorry, shul - on his blog, and it's brought back a wealth of memories of my own times at wilbraham road synagogue. as i haven't written for a couple of weeks, i thought i'd do something special and recount as much as i could remember.

notes on words used: synagogue is the building, and is actually a greek word, not hebrew or yiddish (so i don't know why it's so widely used in the community). shul is the yiddish word for the same thing. chaeda (please try to pronounce the 'ch' right) the equivelent of sunday school, where you learn about religion, traditions, and festivals.

i remember...

often, in the early days, we'd forget our yamulkes, and have to borrow a paper one from the rabbi.

i learnt two words of hebrew in my entire time there - 'abba' which means father, and the word for mountain, which until i tried to remember it now, i was sure i still remembered. quite why these were the two words i'd learn i don't know, and what it implies for the education system i will leave unsaid.

other than daniel my brother, i remember two brothers who we would count as friends. i think one had a gameboy.

i remember of a bunch of idiotic dick children who liked to start dancing round the room singing and shouting in the middle of a lesson from the teacher. most of these boys attended 'very good' schools, and one, michael filson, came up in conversation years later with a guy called will. i met will through playing wfrp with matt. he was telling us about the bullying of a child who shall remain nameless, at manchester grammar (a posh boys school), which attained notoriety throughout the manchester school community, as he was held to the floor by his class mates who tried to force some gob stoppers and a chair leg into his anus. when i asked who the comedian was who had tried to hold his cheeks open, will replied 'michael filson'. i couldn't believe that i'd sat in the same classroom, and had stared daggers at, this person. when i went to durham, i remember ben green (or someone) telling me that somehow he knew micheal too, and he was at a different college - what was the posh one on the bailey that everyone hated? fortunately i never met him.

strangely, i didn't seem to be hated. after danny had left, i spent most of my break periods reading 'white dwarf' (this can't be right. that mag was monthly, and we attended schul probably weekly [i do recall a time when we weren't going so often/regularly]) or chatting to adam cohen. adam ended up at cheadle hulme school with me, and was the only person from chaeda i invited to my bar mitzvah. the other children were a little confused. why didn't they get invited? because, as i've already explained, they were idiot dick children. maybe not directly to me, but i remember the treatment they gave the other quiet kids in the class. they were horrible, and worse, they seemed to believe all this bullshit that we were being fed. they were the cool kids, and this was an environment were being a cool kid meant being good at being jewish. isn't that crazy/sick?

i'd often be told by the cantor that 'white dwarf' was not appropriate to read in shul and i should read something jewish instead.

whenever we were allowed to play board games, i remember i always lost. i must admit, during my childhood, i was always a bad loser. i'm sorry to anyone who i may have upset with a tantrum or a competitive edge. i don't remember doing anything like that there, though; i just found it funny that i'd always lose at games of complete chance. these were games like snakes and ladders, things were there was no choice involved, let alone skill. you might as well have just rolled at the begining to see who won and saved the time.
i remember being easily influenced in the early years, and spelling god 'g-d' in r.e. lessons at junior school. the teacher there saw fit to 'correct' my spelling. it was not that i had 'discovered' religion, it was simply what i had been told to do. this tickles me when i think about it now; 'god' isn't even the name of the hebrew god, so what are they worried about?

once i told a teacher that i didn't believe in god. she got very cross and replied with what, i realised years later when i was a little more mature, was a frankly laughable attempt to prove the existence of a creator - the spilled ink argument - but at that moment i couldn't think of a comeback. was she so poorly educated that she thought this stood up to any kind of rational analysis? or was she just trying to stall a young child (i can only have been about nine) with an unconvincing argument for just long enough for blind faith to take hold? if the second, i think that's child abuse. she was trying to make me stupid so i would believe in their god and go to their church. isn't that disappointing?

my bar mitvah was a farce. i only learned a fraction of the text required, the intro, and not the actual segment of the torah that is supposed to show that the boy has become a man. but it still counted.

i remember standing next to danny to sing the hymns in hebrew at the end of the morning. we couldn't read the words, let alone understand what they meant, so we'd just hum along, sing something else, or just nothing at all.

upon leaving shul, i would sometimes complain to my grandma that i wasn't even jewish. her repsonse would either be 'you're jewish enough for the nazis' or 'you're jewish when you go here' (in the second case, i wish i had replied: 'fine, i just won't go!'). going to services at synagogue was a case of bringing books - terry pratchett for dan, something lighter for me, and standing up and sitting down at the same time as everyone else, while looking up to the gallery where the women had to sit every five minutes, to see if we could spot our mum, and hoping that she was saying we could go home. can you imagine going through all that shit? christian children don't have to learn how to wear tallasim, or that leather strap/head box combination (no, i can't remember what it was called. i could look it up, but it won't change the fact that i forgot. i remember you had to wrap the strap around your arm seven times, to represent seven somethings. i don't know what). and we did all this to not upset our grandma, a woman who i've seen tucking into a bacon sandwich, saying 'well, it's too late for me anyway'. actually this point really works in our favour. when we had to daven in shul or read sections of the prayer book, we had no idea what we were meant to do, hoping no-one was watching us to closely and would see that we were miming and improvising.

many of these memories may be corrupt.

our mother shell explained to me that she decided to send us to chaeda at a very difficult time for her, all things considered. she wanted to let us find out for ourselves, she said, and even indicated to me recently that learning to hate the religion may have been part of the plan (but given our age, she must have a lot of confidence in us to think that we would 'make our own minds up', which fortunately we did. but i am suspicious of someone who sits a child in front of some propaganda, saying 'they can make their own minds up', while not providing the counter argument. fortunately we had our agnostic/atheist father, who when asked about god would say 'we are just here. enjoy it'). but to me it seems a political act - to appease her mother, she had passed the buck to her children, so at least she could be seen to be trying to do the right thing, while we were free to reject it if we wanted to - a win-win situation in the 'appeasing grandma' game. i don't think it was the wrong thing to do. maybe the experiance has made me ferverantly anti-religion - which i consider to be a healthy opinion, because it is an opinion drawn from empirical evidence. so i don't know. it was certainly a drag, but i can't say whether i would have preferred not to have been forced to have gone, because i'm afraid of the unknown.

danny was writing primarily about the kaddish recital for our grandmother, and also our mother. i have only this to say about it:
many of my friends know my views and feelings on death; i am not a grieving person.
saying kaddish will not make me miss the dead more, it will just be a inconvient hassle; and what kind of legacy is that to leave your children?

i once wrote a lyric, "if i die tomorrow, i hope i ruin your weekend". this was meant to be a misanthropic, snyde, and vain remark; but obviously it's how some people feel. personally, i think we should give our mother the new orleans-style funeral i believe she actually wants, rather than the jewish one she thinks she should have. i will mourn her death exactly as much as is appropriate given our relationship; she has had my whole life to make me miss her (this sounds cold, but i am choosing it to sound so for convienience). to command me to mourn for a certain amount of time - a minimum, no less (as well as a maximum) - is, as my brother says, offensive. as if i won't mourn her appropriately to our relationship. it is a tautology that i will, and that she will get what she deserves. i've made this point very clumsily but can you forgive me for doing so at the end of this essay? i hope you can see the humour and emotion in it. i just mean that, if you have a special relationship with someone, you will mourn them greatly, and so forth.

those seeking more information about judaism should look here.

Sunday

dillinger escape plan in 'least essential purchase of the year' shock

it's been a shit week for news. real news is bad enough, two minutes looking at the bbc website today was enough to make me completely give up and start playing thief 2 again (especially the report saying we should test on some things on apes.. why not just use humans? then you'll at least get some accurate results).

but i just learned that dep plan to release an absolutely pointless e.p. next week - firstly, it's download only, so you won't even get to have the joy of taking it home from the shops and fantisizing about what the artwork implies for the music and so forth; plus it means you have to give some money to itunes, the least fun record shop in the world. secondly, it's called 'plagiarism' and will consist of four covers, with a couple of other tracks - a live version of 'the perfect design' (which could be fun), and, oh horror of horrors, an edit of 'unretrofied'.

this song has been available for nearly two years on the album 'miss machine', and for that time i have been struggling to work out if it is an interesting attempt to inject something a little more indie/poppy into their work, a cynical attempt to get on the mtv (here's the video) and have people who don't know what they're really about buy the album blind, or just a really crappy song. and now they want me to buy an edited (as they say themselves, "shorter") version? just what's the plan guys? was this in your 2cd/2dvd refesher deal with relapse? money for old rope doesn't come older or ropier.

so then, those covers: NIN "Wish", Massive Attack "Angel", Justin Timberlake "Like I Love You", and Soundgarden "Jesus Christ Pose" (the last of which can be heard on their myspac, and is refreshingly exactly the same as the original, which in some ways is great - that's a good chris cornell impression - but...). i just.. you know.. give me a reason why on earth i should pay money for this shit. i don't want TWO copies of unretrofied on my computer. argh.

so then the other really bad music news is that gorky's have finally, officially, split. after a couple of years of having to explain to people, "no, they're not breaking up, they're just having a rest and doing solo stuff, they'll be back", i have to face the fact that despite none of this year's batch of solo releases being as good as any gorky's album (except maybe the last one), they'll never be coming home. oh well. i'm my normal stoical self about this. things change! i'd rather they split up than became shit. i don't think anyone will replace them in my heart; i think i'm growing out of the obsessive buying phase, especailly since every band is putting their entire back catalogue online for download. where would you stop? i have neither the finances, hard drive space, nor time to listen to all the music i'd like to.

btw, i finally figured out the 'i'm david bowie' thing.. it's stella street right? phil cornwell played both bowie and micheal cain. it's a simple confusion because they're both played by the same guy marring the impressions together.

but it was paul whitehouse who did 'i'm micheal cain' on the harry enfield show, which confuses matters.