september 2002

click here for permalink September 22, 2002

Ummm... Okay, I did not seek this out... nor was I trolling the forums (believe it or not, I tend to avoid forums as a rule... probably on account of, heh, the grammar...

Anyway. I was looking up the lyrics to a Nirvana song this morning, apropos of nothing but curiosity, and I followed a link from the lyrics site to an article on (it wasn't even a new article, just a lengthy timeline of the weeks leading up to Kurt's death that I'm sure I've read before). So, at the end of the article, I follow the "More Nirvana" link (as if I'm not going to click that) and I find a new article about the complilation to be released this Winter. At the end of that article, there's a forum link referring vaguely but intriguingly to new lyrics...

Look, I may be belaboring these details, but it's not just because I tend to; in this case, it's to illustrate how extremely random and/or karmic it was (depending on how manic-obsessive I want to come across) that I stumbled upon this at all!)

The post was from 9pm last night — announcing that Nirvana's new song (rather, their LAST song... EVER) had been "leaked onto to the Internet" and was now available to all, via the modern wonder that is file sharing — by the way, all the file sharing programs are free at, for anyone who wants to join the rest of us inside the loop)...

It's weird, about file sharing... how it's changed the way we think of intellectual property and, as it goes hand in hand, property. We want our rights to life, liberty and property to be protected — but, of course, we also want everything for free — which causes periodic, revolutionary shifts in our conception of ownership and reward. But it can't be stopped. [...I know it's wrong, so what should I do...?]... Oops, sorry. Heh.

Let me state for the record, no pun intended, that I am all about constructive capitalism and artists being compensated for their contributions to society. I went to art school for a year and a half (and $25,000), which is ALL about those things (well... that and the art of bullshitting).

All my life, the majority of my friends and family have been musicians or artists of one kind or another; I think that the opportunity to prosper from our own creativity is fundamental to our development as human beings; socially, psychologically and spiritually.

So... maybe I feel a little guilty that I don't feel guilty; but "Nirvana the Estate" probably generates more revenue now than when Kurt was around to feel conflicted about it. Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, bless thier hearts, have gone on to have great success beyond all that... I know I'm not alone in my lack of interest in contributing to Courtney's lifestyle... and, for all her motherly concern about inheritance, I'm sure that nothing will damage Frances Bean's chances for a happy life more than her own DNA. So...

It's called "You Know You're Right" and it's a "remastered" track that sounds like something dragged kicking and screaming out of the kitchen garbage disposal — but, you know, in a good way. Through the feedback, and the distortion of time, the echo of imminent suicide is almost audible in his voice — which is exactly what die-hard fans will have been expecting. It is fucking great.

click here for permalink September 20, 2002

Absently flipping through the channels the other night, I caught — by accident! — the season premiere of The Sopranos, for which the phrase "long-awaited" would have been an absurd understatement...

...six months ago. I used to watch every episode, taping those I couldn't watch, borrowing from friends when I couldn't tape. I worried, when the third season ended amidst a flurry of rumors that the next might be their last, and when no solid dates were set for the start of the fourth.

Even so, my Sopranos deprivation didn't even begin until six months after everyone else's — that's how long it took me to finish watching our (responsible, generous) friends' tape of the last three episodes. So, by the time Season Four's media blitz began this month, my memories of the Sopranos had been archived... somewhere in the vicinity of Tom Green and Drew Barrymore's marital troubles.

I mean, come on — it's been eighteen months! We North Americans aren't known for our patience or faithfulness, what with our ADD and our short term memory loss... and it is an awfully long time! So, here I am on a Monday night with nothing to watch so I settle on what looks like another Season 3 rerun and I don't realize until 45 minutes later that I've been half-watching the big Season Premiere. Cool!

But was it really? It could be too soon to tell, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I think that the "magic" might be gone. Which kinda sucks — this was the show that took prime time by storm in a hail of gunfire and swearing... it was like the Tarantino Generation's answer to Dynasty! And all the while, it raked in the Golden Globes, the Emmys and editorial accolades from just about everyone... even those who hadn't quite seen it yet. So I hope I'm wrong about the magic.

Speaking of Emmy-winning prim time TV shows... this summer I made a point to remember to drop everything at 9 o'clock on Wednesday nights so I could catch up on this season of "The West Wing." I missed so many the first time they aired... which is really weird because I don't recall having any more of a life back then...

Anyway, last night was an encore presentation of the season finale, which I hadn't seen before. It left me feeling all charged up to talk about it with someone... and I suddenly realized that, while I have no shortage of friends with whom to trade copies and wax nostalgic about the "The Sopranos," I don't know any one as obsessed with "The West Wing" as I am.

Hey, don't get me wrong — "The Sopranos" is highly-evolved television with great writing, but it doesn't operate on the purely, belligerently, literate level that "The West Wing" does. I'm just one of those geeks whose neurons are switched into intellectual-overdrive — in a high school Social Studies debate/"Good Will Hunting" bar scene kind of way — when my delusions of knowing-it-all are simultaneously threatened, shattered and pandered to...

And anyone who's been here watching TV with me will attest to the fact that I'm an indiscriminate trivia junkie who will launch into an hours-long tangent of research and (attempted?) conversation, on almost any topic, at the drop of even the most minute, obscure grain of intrigue.

If I'm watching TV, I'm probably also reading something, writing something, commenting on those things to anyone who'll listen, looking up and cross-referencing randomly overheard details when they catch my attention and trying to figure out who that one guy is because I'm sure I've seen him in something else this week...

The only time I'm not like that is when I'm too exhausted (rented movie=natural sedative) or it's so deeply affecting that I'm immobilized, my instinctive urge to multitask overpowered by the craft of good storytelling... until the credits roll, of course. Then I'm right back at my computer!

The first thing I want to know, if I was transfixed and loved it (like "Magnolia," for example), is what the writer was thinking — if, on the other hand, I was transfixed in spite of myself, and hated it deeply from start to finish (like "Eyes Wide Shut," for example), I want to find out what everyone else saw in it.

Well, my new, um, "friends" all share — and most far eclipse — my West Wing obsession. May I introduce, again, Television Without Pity and members of "The West Wing" web ring... yes, I know, it's "pathetic and sad but social." I found them as I was searching for some obscure/profound quote from an episode last month and this one brilliant rant from Season One, so I'm passing on my findings here in case anyone out there shares my infatuation...

  • For episode descriptions and a sense of community in all those "what the hell was that about?" moments, go here.
  • For detailed (and I mean OCD-detailed) collections of "episode information," which must be seen to be believed, go here.
  • Finally, for enough details, opinions and "TWW" minutiae to make you doubt the sanity of any fan of this show, yourself included, go here.

Okay, so it's geeky... it's DAMN geeky. But it makes me feel.... well... more or less "normal" is irrelevant to me — but "not alone" — that's priceless!

click here for permalink September 14, 2002

I'm so excited — I finally (after two agonizing weeks of waiting!) got out to the suburbs (thanks, M!) to buy myself a cute, compact, simple sewing machine with which to resume my newest do-it-yourself-er obsession...

It started a month ago, actually, when I got sick of shoving aside items in my closet that I would wear if only they were... hemmed, not missing buttons, smaller, tighter, shorter, straighter, less lacy... you get the idea — to find the few items I had that were wearable.

I asked to borrow a friend's 40-year old Singer sewing machine (again, M, thank you) and jumped in head-first, thinking (correctly, thank god) that I would probably be able to pick up the skill instinctively, now that I regarded it as a necessity... kind of like I did with HTML. Heh.

So, the next thing you know, I've got the coffee table turned into an alterations assembly line, full of pants and shirts and dresses I've either never worn or worn only with other items to cleverly camouflage the fact that they don't fit me... Why do I have all these ill-fitting items in the first place, you ask?

Sigh... I guess it's partially a pack-rat mentality... example: I have three or four near-identical pairs of black pants, the multiplicity of which almost guarantees that three of them will always be shunned in favor of the one pair that looks the best. But the beauty of this approach, if you were to think like a Virgo, is that those three pairs are excellent runners-up... should the "chosen" pair be found incapable of fulfilling its duties...

...Anyway, enough psychoanalyzing my weird clothing neuroses.

In just a few days I'd mastered enough of the art to get through several hems and mended seems and halfway through a major reconstruction job on what will soon be a shockingly bright — yet totally flattering — Hawaiian print halter dress. I even took in a pair of beautiful chocolate brown pseudo-suede pants that were huge when I bought them (for a single-digit price at a consignment sale); now they fit like they were made for me.

But all of that came to a literally grinding halt when the (ill-advisedly, I would later learn) plastic bobbin broke, unspooling a hideous tangle of thread into the dust-laden netherparts of the machine.

After laboriously disengaging the ancient moving parts from the foreign material, I tried for an entire week (and then bribed various friends to try for another week) to realign the hopelessly off-balance timing between bobbin thread tension and - er - upper thread tension.

Eventually, I gave up and took it to a repair shop and had it realigned (free of charge, as I had been the first to notice their online ad!). Best of all, the kind and generous sewing machine repairman referred me to a shop in the suburbs where I could find myself a nice, cheap, easy-to-use — and most importantly — lower-maintenance model.

Now that I have it sitting on the edge of my desk (pre-loaded by the store with pink thread, no less!), my momentum of two weeks ago is a distant memory. Maybe I'll pull out that half-finished Hawaiian print dress and see if it inspires me... at worst, I'll find myself shopping — and that ain't bad for a worst-case proposition.

click here for permalink September 11, 2002

Yesterday, I received a stern, concerned, email from a friend who was certain that my silence all morning meant I was holed up on the couch, riveted to CNN (or any network, really), fully engrossed in tearful remembrance...

In truth, I was engrossed in the episode of VIP where Val foils some diamond thieves by pulling off a Mission Impossible-style heist in a white leather jumpsuit — and only partially engrossed, at that.

I was a little bit proud of myself for not being sucked in by the Ground Zero special reports and survivor tributes — until the 5pm news came on and 30 seconds of an interview with a cop who lost his brother brought tears to my eyes. That was my cue to get outside and run some errands.

Another friend called while I was out to ask if I noticed something different in the air today. Could I feel how the whole city seemed to be on edge — how the energy downtown seemed thicker and more intense, or how it seemed like the whole fleet of fire trucks was out in force?

No, I had to admit, I hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary. The streets of Vancouver felt, to me, just as calm and quiet and virtual as ever. But then, my friends remember all too well the months that I spent watching, reading and reliving every moment of that day one year ago and feeling strangely displaced in this Canadian Utopia.

One of the first things I did when I regained my wits (and my newly virus-free computer) last September, was to add this card to the tarot deck I was designing. The description that follows is borrowed, respectfully and gratefully, from the American Tarot Association.

The Towers "Sometimes, when accepted and welcomed, divine wisdom and enlightenment flow freely like a calm river. The rest of the time, wisdom is blocked until it rages forth like a tidal wave and crushes anything in its path, including the recipient of the wisdom. This is the energy of the Tower card, an energy very similar to Death in that it is both a destructive and a creative force. When a building is old and decrepit, it must be demolished so that a new structure may stand in its place. The same is true of the symbolic Tower. When old attitudes and beliefs are outdated, you will have to let go of them, whether you like it or not."

"When you believe material objects are more powerful than spirit and mind, you start building up a Tower of falsehoods on a very unstable foundation. If, by some miracle of engineering, it does not collapse under its own weight, you will eventually push it over yourself. The Tower falls not because Fate says so but because something within can no longer endure the strain it must bear. Sooner or later it will give out. This is a humbling experience because its lesson is that no one is invincible. The problem for most people is that they concentrate on the negatives and ignore the great opportunity that has been given to them."

"On an inner level, the destruction of Tower is akin to the breaking-down of the fortress called the ego. When you build a wall to hide your secrets or to conceal your true self, you must know that sooner or later the wall will come tumbling down. Fantasies are particularly prone to being shattered by the power of this card; the Tower dissipates them like sunlight burning away fog. Fantasies and daydreams will not help where you are going so it is best to let go of them now. Do not place your faith in illusions of security; the crown on this card must be worn on by a human head, not placed atop a tower of cold stone."

Written by James Rioux, whose complete interpretation, and readings on the rest of the deck, can be found here.