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Friday Five #25

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1. What’s your favorite piece of clothing that you currently own?

I bought a black t-shirt today with a Decepticons logo on the front which is pretty cool. I am a child of the 1980’s, after all.

2. What piece of clothing do you most want to acquire?

A new pair of jeans since I only have a couple left that don’t have gaping holes in the crotch. Now if only there were such a thing as a pair of Wranglers with industrial strength crotch/inner-thigh friction protection.

3. What piece of clothing can you not bring yourself to get rid of? Why?

I don’t really hoard my clothes, but I don’t think I’ll ever throw out my Minutemen t-shirt. It’ll fit me again some day.

4. What piece of clothing do you look your best in?

Me being a person of low self-esteem, I don’t think I look good in anything.

5. What has been your biggest fashion accident?

I wouldn’t know what a fashion accident is, since I’m not a dedicated follower of fashion. I exclusively wear jeans and t-shirts.

Iain Banks

I’ve always thought that Iain Banks lives a wonderful life.

I remember some years ago, I was off sick from school and – as per usual whenever I was off sick – watching Channel 4 Schools (now 4Learning). There was some English programme on – that being English the subject, not the language, nor the nation – that profiled different British authors, their lifestyles, and their thoughts about writing. This particular episode featured Iain Banks.

I remember being surprised to learn that Banks only wrote for three months every year, from October to December if I rightly recall, and spent the rest of the year being a slacker (his choice of word, not mine). I immediately thought to myself, that’s what I want to do with my life.

The programme also showed ambiguous dramatised segments from arguably his most famous novel, The Wasp Factory. Quite unsettling indeed, even more so when spliced intermittently with footage of Banks himself whizzing around narrow, winding Scottish country roads on his motorbike.

I never got around to reading The Wasp Factory until late last year, when the days were getting shorter, the nights getting darker and colder. It’s an excellent read, though not for the faint hearted.

Friday Five #24

Better late than never. http://fridayfive.org/

1. What is your current occupation? Is this what you chose to be doing at this point in your life? Why or why not?

I’m a sales assistant at a large music store on Grafton St. I’m working there primarily to save money for graduate school in the near future. It’s not a career for me – although I guess I could make it one if I wanted to, but I don’t. This point in my life is not the time for me to worry about where I am at this point in my life. I’m still getting there.

2. If time/talent/money were no object, what would your dream occupation be?

Running my own record label slash publishing mini-empire. It’s something I want to start, just as a hobby, to see if it’s for me. But I’d need to build up some capital first.

3. What did/do your parents do for a living? Has this had any influence on your career choices?

Nope.

4. Have you ever had to choose between having a career and having a family?

Not yet. Jeez, I’m only 22.

5. In your opinion, what is the easiest job in the world? What is the hardest? Why?

Is any job really easy? Most – if not all – of them are hard for somebody. It really depends on what one likes or is good as, but even then you’re still putting effort into it, and ‘effort’ doesn’t go well with ‘easy’.
In my opinion, the question should be ‘what is the coolest job/suckiest job in the world?’ (For me the suckiest is working the concession stand at the multiplex cinema. The coolest? See #2.)

Nothing Special

We don’t get VICE Magazine in Ireland; the reason being that we don’t have any VICE stores here. But I am actually acquainted with the publication, having perused a few copies during my stay in Toronto at the ManHole, so I am writing here from experience.

It’s not bad at all, particularly since it’s free. Excellent design, some well-written, entertaining articles, and a generally good ear to the musical underground. I liked VICE, and I respected their judgment.

However, they seem to have an unhealthy fixation with The Streets for some reason. So much so, in fact, that they’ve just started up a record label specifically to release Original Pirate Material in North America.

Maybe it’s because he’s British, and therefore by default has to be revered. (I mean, come on, Belle & Sebastian? They’re twee and fey and shite. Just admit it.)

Whatever the case, I just cannot agree with them. Mark Skinner (aka The Streets) is a purveyor of garage music. With a twist, maybe – and yes, more legitimate musically than the fucking So Solid Crew – but still garage music. And garage music is inherently crap.

I have listened to his album – I have listened to it repeatedly, when I was working in the basement at the large music store – and it gets old very, very quickly. He also has a really annoying voice.

Listen up VICE: The Streets is not the future of music. Why don’t you kids big-up the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or something? They’re not perfect, but at least they’re not garage.

Redd Blood Cells

Steve McDonald of Redd Kross has added bass parts and harmonies to the White Stripes’ White Blood Cells, with the full consent of Jack and Meg. You can download the whole of Redd Blood Cells here, but you better hurry since it’s only gonna be online ’til next weekend.

(If, like me, you only really want Fell in Love with a Girl, cut out the middleman and get it here.)

Simpsons = Shite

Just saw bits and pieces of a new episode of The Simpsons on Sky.

It was shite.

Come on, Homer bouncing down the street on a ladder? The writers must have been high when they came up with that, because only under the influence of drugs could that elicit a laugh.

The show must be euthanised now, to preserve its previous good reputation for future generations.

A Shrine At Which to Worship

The Trouser Press website has finally been relaunched (c/o xBlog).

I remember looking for this when I first got onto the intramanet almost four years ago, and being very disappointed to find nothing but dead links.

But now, now, as a sworn music geek, I finally have a shrine at which to worship. As it were.

Christian Rock

I want to talk about Christian rock.

I used to have a real big problem with it, and I still do to an extent. Especially with crap like Creed and Delirious? around. I mean, why do they have to be so preachy? Whenever I hear them or bands like them, I cringe. They’re like the musical equivalent of televangelists. Come on, wave your hands in the air and sing that you love Jesus! On every fucking song! Like he’s actually listening to you if he’s up there? Hah!

The thing is, thinking like this convinced me that anything tagged with the ‘Christian rock’ label belonged in the same boat.

“MxPx? They’re not pop-punk, they’re Christians.”

I mean, it’s hard enough searching your own self to decide what you believe in without being dictated to by a fucking rock band.

Maybe that was my problem; I was brought up a Catholic in a predominantly Catholic country, but a few years ago I realised that no, I shouldn’t believe this just because I was brought up this way. What makes me so special or different from a Protestant, or a Jew, or a Muslim, or an agnostic? After all, if I was born somewhere else, in a different time, I could be raised along the lines of any religious faith, or none at all.

In history class at school – back in the day – we learned about the Reformation, the splitting of the Church into the old-school Catholics and the protestant Luterans and so on and so forth. We read about came such groups as the Calvinists, with their whole predetermination thing – that those who get into Heaven are picked at birth, and get in regardless of how they’ve lived their lives, while everyone else is fucked, whatever they do. I mean who decided that this was the way? Was it God? Fuck no. Was it Jesus? No again. It was just some guy. How did the Reformation itself come to be? Because of some guy. There was nothing divine or miraculous about any of this; some guys just said stuff, and people believed them.

I thought about this a lot. If it could happen a few hundered years ago, who’s to say that it didn’t happen two thousand years ago or before? Maybe Jesus wasn’t the Son of God, maybe he was just some guy who wanted a better world and got turned into a legend by some nifty spin-doctoring? I mean, the Jews don’t believe he was the Son of God, and that just goes back to what I’ve already said here.

But you know, I felt bad about thinking this way. I felt like a lightning bolt was gonna strike me down and a deep voice would bellow: “How could you lose your faith in me?!” The old cliche of Catholic guilt, I guess.

Studying philosophy changed this for me. It helped me get a better handle on the myriad of contradictions that make up the world we live in. It also affected my attitude to religion. Philosophy is all about asking questions, challenging dogma and what has previously been held to be true, and in a way this is very anti-religion. But most of the world’s greatest philosophers were (are) deeply spiritual. Theology and philosophy go well together. It made me realise that I didn’t have to junk the whole idea of anyone having faith in a higher power just because I didn’t feel the same way. What’s my position? I’m not sure what I’d label myself as, agnostic maybe? (Better still, humanist.) But I’d rather not be pigeonholed. All I know is that organised religion is not my thing, and I can’t say in my heart-of-hearts that I know there’s a God up there somewhere, but I can’t honestly rule it out either.

In the meantime – since that’s something I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure while we’re still on this mortal coil – I want to live a good life. I say please and thank you. I leave the toilet seat down (and wash my hands after). If I find your change in a vending machine, I usually leave it, in case you come back. If you lend me your stuff I take good care of it. If I saw you get hit by a car, I’d call an ambulance (or at least make sure someone else did).

So what does this have to do with Christian rock? Well not much really, I kinda trailed off that track a while ago. I guess I came to a point where I was comfortable in what I believe in, and comfortable that others believe differently, and as a result I was able to open my eyes just that bit more and see things for what they really are.

Like Christian rock. Fuck Creed and Delirious? and all that shit. Most so-called Christian rock bands are just Christians who play rock music. Their brand of faith has about as much to do with their music as Ariel Sharon has to do with Yasser Arafat.

I no longer have a mental block about listening to a band or reading a book by someone with different beliefs to mine, whatever they may be. I guess this makes me a better person now.

Does it?

On Capitalism

I think this guy is missing the point entirely.

Capitalism doesn’t produce inherent ugliness, but such ugliness is undeniably a symptom of the greater capitalist disease.

Wal-Mart and stores of its ilk are ugly. Regardless of the efficiency and functionality of such institutions they are – in an external aesthetic sense – eyesores.

On the other hand, places like Grafton Street or, say, Fifth Avenue – grand temples of, and monuments to, capitalism – can be quite beautiful.

In the right light, of course.

One Beat

Thanks to those lovely people at kill rock stars, one can listen to a live stream of the new Sleater-Kinney album, One Beat.

You’ll probably need more than a 56k connection to hear it well – I’ve only heard snippets, but what I have heard is pretty fucking cool; a continuance of the positive vibe of All Hands On The Bad One, but more rocking like The Hot Rock. It might be well worth adding to my collection.

New Records

We’ve been playing a couple of new records in the shop this week which have caught my ear.

Like the new album from Ben Kweller. You know, the scrawny kid who was in that shite band Radish? Anyway, he resurfaced sometime last year, with a support slot on Evan Dando’s tour. Al told me he was selling his album in the jacks at Whelans, which is kinda creepy, it has to be said, but look at him now – the boy done good. His output is now a whole world away from that Radish toss. The influences may be kinda obvious – Weezer, with a splash of Ben Folds and a twist of Elvis Costello – but it works. His songs are bounce-on-your-feet hummable but not in a throwaway bubblegum sense.

Also, the new Bright Eyes album came in yesterday, and made its way onto the stereo at the end of the evening. When I read that it is apparently a concept album based on The Neverending Story, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I’m pleased to report that it’s pretty damn good. It wasn’t immediate, but after a few songs I can’t deny that I was drawn in. I’m gonna get it next week.

Tomorrow I will be enjoying the sounds of yesterday’s staff sale: Scratch Acid, The Shins (thanks Mat for turning me on to them), The Pattern and Moss Icon. Bit of a mixture there. Should keep me going for a few days, at least.

I always smile when I read this

I’m hoping it becomes fashionable to say something reasonably profound and then immediately launch into an inappropriate non sequitur. For example, a professor at MIT could deliver a lecture on Fermat’s Last Theorem, and as he scribbles the final derivation on the chalkboard, he slams down his chalk and exclaims “now check out this Moonwalk.”

I don’t read fush! that often. I must be missing a whole heap of jems like this.

Friday Five #23

Well, this is gonna be a short one.

http://fridayfive.org/

1. Do you have a car? If so, what kind of car is it?

Nope.

2. Do you drive very often?

Nope, because I don’t have a car.

3. What’s your dream car?

I don’t have one, because I’m not a car person.

4. Have you ever received a ticket?

See answer to no.2.

5. Have you ever been in an accident?

Never.

That was quick, wasn’t it?

Is it Really So Wrong to Like Rush?

We were playing this new compilation CD in work yesterday caled Rock Monsters. One of those RAWK-type comps that someone might stick on at a party for an ironic laugh, but then get drawn in and realise that, deep down inside, they actually like it.

Now it goes without saying that this particular album is by no means perfect (the edit of Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun cuts out most of Kim Thayil’s main solo, while Blue Öyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper is butchered beyond belief, with the whole breakdown and solo section removed) but there are a couple of jems.

Ram Jam’s Black Betty for one. I’d never given it much time before, but there’s some neat time-changing going on there that reminded me of the Dillinger Escape Plan. Seriously.

But even better than that was an infectious rocker that seemed like four songs blended together. I was mesmirised. It was fantastic. I checked the track number on the CD player against the inlay card.

It was The Spirit Of Radio.

My lord, I’m still humming it in my head right now.

Is it really so wrong to like Rush?

Coming attractions

The Dillinger Escape Plan are coming back to Dublin at the TBMC on September 8th. This’ll make up for missing their show with Nasum back in May.

Not only that, but Fugazi finally rescheduled and are playing the Red Box on October 25th. The Red Box kinda sucks, but this is Fugazi we’re talking about – they’d make a latrine seem like a good venue.

I have a huge grin on my face right now.

Friday Five #22

(This is going to suck since I’m not American, but for completion’s sake I’m doing it anyway.)

http://fridayfive.org/

1. What is your lineage? Where are your ancestors from?

Being from Ireland, and having Irish ancestors, means that my answers to these questions aren’t going to be as exciting as I know it’s going to be for, say, you Yanks, who seem to revel in your heraldry and genealogy because you only have 300 years or so of your own history. But I digress; what is my lineage? On my paternal side (Conroy), Irish – but the name seems to have originated in Spain at least 1,000 years ago. On my maternal side (Ellis), originally English, specifically Anglo-Saxon – although the name is said to have been derived from Elijah, which in turn is a variation of Jesus, so an argument could be made that I’m descended from the Son of God. So there. But this is all going back hundreds of years. Unfortunately my grandparents didn’t come here from Europe to escape the Nazis or anything historically interesting like that. Although my late Grandad John Conroy did run errands on his bicycle in the Dublin Mountains for the IRB back in the day. That’s history for you.

2. Of those countries, which would you most like to visit?

Since I live in one, and the other is just across the water and I’ve been there so many times, this question is kinda irrelevant for me.

3. Which would you least like to visit? Why?

See above.

4. Do you do anything during the year to celebrate or recognize your heritage?

No, since I’m not an emigrant. The Irish usually take Ireland for granted, unless we happen to be doing well in an international sporting competition.

5. Who were the first ancestors to move to your present country (parents, grandparents, etc)?

My lineage has been settled here for too long to really answer this question. However, my maternal grandparents had planned to emigrate to New Zealand a many moons ago. If they had, their vowels would be all messed up (sorry Wendy, just kidding!) and I most likely wouldn’t be here (a metaphysical conundrum that I don’t want to get into).

(I told you this was gonna suck.)

True Porn Clerk Stories

I think everybody who hasn’t been under a rock for the last month has been reading this, but I thought I’d post this anyway for the benefit of those readers of mine who aren’t hip to the whole blogging thing. Enjoy.

(Is that the right word, ‘enjoy’, considering the context?)