Tuesday, March 30, 2004

My Best Of Nirvana

Nirvana have one Greatest Hits album: Nevermind. They have one absolute, raw pinnacle: In Utero. And then they have an enjoyable odds and ends collection (Incesticide), a slab of early molten grunge (Bleach), an acoustic revelation (Unplugged) and a document of live intensity (From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah). The recently released blandly self-titled, blandly covered, cash-in collection of "greatest hits" provides as much an accurate reflection as a mirror doused in mud and soaked in bleach. Here's my own, personal Nirvana best-of, currently titled Radio Friendly Unit Shifters: The Best of Nirvana, but very much subject to change:

1. Negative Creep - 2:55 (from Bleach)
2. Dive - 3:53 (from Incesticide)
3. Love Buzz - 3:35 (from Bleach)
4. Scentless Apprentice - 3:47 (from In Utero)
5. Lithium - 4:17 (from Nevermind)
6. Lake of Fire - 2:55 (from Unplugged)
7. Come as You Are - 3:39 (from Nevermind)
8. You Know You're Right - 3:38 (unreleased)
9. In Bloom - 4:15 (from Nevermind)
10. Breed - 3:04 (from Nevermind)
11. Pennyroyal Tea - 3:13 (from Unplugged, edit)
12. Heart Shaped Box - 4:39 (from In Utero)
13. Moist Vagina - 3:32 (from All Apologies single)
14. Smells Like Teen Spirit - 5:02 (from Nevermind)
15. Drain You - 3:44 (from Nevermind)
16. The Man Who Sold The World - 3:47 (from Unplugged)
17. Dumb - 2:29 (from In Utero)
18. I Hate Myself And Want To Die - 2:31 (from Beavis & Butthead Experience soundtrack, edit)
19. Aneurysm - 4:35 (from Incesticide)
20. Where Did You Sleep Last Night? - 5:08 (from Unplugged)
21. All Apologies - 3:50 (from In Utero)

2 songs from Bleach
2 songs from Incesticide
4 songs from In Utero
4 songs from Unplugged
6 songs from Nevermind
3 songs from miscellaneous sources

Total running time: 77:40

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Nomad's Utopia

A long bus ride between cities can really clear your mind. Recovering from sickness and hangover, it's fetal bliss to sit in a comfortable seat, put your bag beside you, listen to music on your discman until the batteries run out, and watch open fields and reassuringly quaint towns roll by. The motion of a vehicle travelling a distance, beyond the traffic lights and noise of the city, soothes my frazzled nerves and eviscerates my anxiety. There's nothing like having the sun shine down, a big window to lean on, and no obligations except to sit down and shut up; two things I'm well-versed and competent at.

Part of me wants to live on the bus, always on the move; like a rock band's tour bus without shows to play. There would be drivers to take shifts as we slept and a retractable roof so we could sleep under the stars. We'd travel from the coast of Alaska to the tip of Chile, all the while playing music, reading, drinking, writing and having sex behind closed curtains.

How would we make enough money to keep the adventure running? Over the course of the endless journey we would write, paint, sketch, take photographs and record music, then sell our work on the road.

Who would be the "we" in this scenario? Friends would come and join us along the way; we'd pick up interested and interesting parties wherever we went, dropping them off on the side of the road should we or they so desire.

The nomad's utopia is always in motion.

Friday, March 26, 2004

The Only Cure I Know

Eight ways to push an illness aside without actually curing it, taken from personal experience:

#1. Drink.
#2. Burn finger.
#3. Sing to spite your throat.
#4. Eat to spite your mouth.
#5. Drink.
#6. Go out and infect the world.
#7. Collapse.
#8. Drink.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Sick As Cerberus With Rabies And Fleas

I am sick, I am sick and I hate being sick. Food doesn't taste good, television can't hold my attention, the monitor glare hurts my eyes, and I shiver just at the thought of venturing outside. Tylenol, throat lozenges, painkillers--just pacifiers for the little monster to suck on. I hope, feverishly in honour of my fever, that the hallucinations don't come. When I get really sick, I start to lose my mind: I recall fearing a giant needle from space was going to plunge from space through the roof and in to my chest; I remember thinking that none of my possessions were truly my own, and that the bookshelves were going to collapse on me. Armies of microbes, stirring and jittering into my bloodstream like crack addicts breaking into a mansion, is the most apt analogy I can find right now. This is why I have no desire to try any hard drugs: if I wanted to feel a bad acid trip, withdrawal symptoms, and delusional paranoia all at once, I'd just inject myself with this hellborne bacteria and lie writhing and twitching until the fever dreams come.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Terms From Songs For Conversation

Although many often are, no conversation should be complete without the use of terms taken from songs. They may lose some of their power without music backing them, but you can always make a little drum roll noise after each--until someone takes it upon themselves to beat your head in. But before that inevitable moment comes, here are some good expressions to incorporate into your repertoire; and to take a proud, deserving place beside other charmers like "shits and giggles," "dollars for donuts," and "cracking wise."

Term: Aqua seafoam shame
Coined by: Nirvana, in "All Apologies"
Sample sentence: Sure, I'll take all the blame, it'll be as real as aqua seafoam shame.

Term: Cough it up loud and strong
Coined by: The Clash, in "Straight To Hell"
Sample sentence: The immigrants may be weak economically, but they still have their beliefs, and they cough it up loud and strong.

Term: Clear as winter ice
Coined by: The Clash, in "Straight To Hell"
Sample sentence: As clear as winter ice, this is your paradise.

Term: Cocaine nosejob
Coined by: Beck, in "Loser"
Sample sentence: I really could use a cocaine nosejob.

Term: Comfort lies
Coined by: New Model Army, in "I Love The World"
Sample sentence: You blind yourselves with comfort lies like, "Lightning never strikes you twice."

Term: Cut me a piece with some fine wine
Coined by: Jane's Addiction, in "Summertime Rolls"
Sample sentence: There was so much space, I cut me a piece with some fine wine; it brought peace to my mind in the summertime...

Term: Degenerate the faithful
Coined by: The Clash, in "Rock The Casbah"
Sample sentence: Degenerate the faithful with that crazy Casbah sound!

Term: Feeling Minnesota
Coined by: Soundgarden, in "Outshined"
Sample sentence: I'm looking California, but feeling Minnesota.

Term: Gazed a gazely stare
Coined by: David Bowie, in "The Man Who Sold The World"
Sample sentence: I gazed a gazely stare at all the millions there.

Term: How soon is now?
Coined by: The Smiths, in "How Soon Is Now?"
Sample sentence: You say it's going to happen now but--how soon is now?!

Term: Living in a moon so blue
Coined by: Jandek, in "Can I See Your Clock"
Sample sentence: I've been living in a moon so blue, and the cheese doesn't help.

Term: Make a try
Coined by: Pavement, in "In The Mouth A Desert"
Sample sentence: I'll make a try if you really think it's worth the effort.

Term: Rattled by the rush
Coined by: Pavement, in "Rattled By The Rush"
Sample sentence: I'm rattled by the rush and I'm not going to take it anymore.

Term: Sick fickle fucker
Coined by: Modest Mouse, in "Tundra/Desert"
Sample sentence: Every sick fickle fucker is the product of their childhood.

Term: Space cadet glow
Coined by: Pink Floyd, in "In The Flesh"
Sample sentence: Whenever I play with my nipples, I feel that space cadet glow.

Term: Super-scurry
Coined by: Nena, in "99 Luftballoons"
Sample sentence: Come on, hurry hurry, super-scurry!

Term: Vodka sonic proof
Coined by: Swervedriver, in "Bring Me The Head Of The Fortune Teller"
Sample sentence: Walking downstairs sideways, vodka sonic proof.

Term: Wired me awake
Coined by: Soundgarden, in "Rusty Cage"
Sample sentence: You really wired me awake when you hit me with that hand of broken nails... prick.

P.S. When I first heard "High and Dry," I thought Radiohead had invented the word suss. I thought it sounded pretty cool for being meaningless, and could maybe even pass for a real word. Alas, due to a later discovery of its true origins as an English expression, I cannot include it on the list.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Evolution, Slowly? Surely!

Evolution! I like the way this site has evolved, I think. I've gone from fearing the possibilities to relishing them. I don't feel limited to a theme or archetype or expectation to fulfill, so the map is mine to go all over. Some of the posts are personal, some objective, some pretentious, some mindless, some built for humour, some built for bitterness; the full spectrum from manic to depressive. But all of them reflect whatever I was thinking at the time they were written, so their function; to channel excess energy and get weighty infants and anvils off my chest, can be considered fulfilled. I've posted a lot of lists, which I continue to add to long after they're into the archives, so check back if you care; and feel free to leave comments on anything. The look of this place has also evolved in hirsute to hairless ape fashion; I'm not sure who still visits who was here from the beginning, but I think appearance-wise there's been slow but steady improvement. I like the colours, the sidebar, the exploding head; and the "Inspiring Images" really do inspire me. If anyone has any criticism or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment; my head is always wide open, so consider it your dumping ground.

Monday, March 15, 2004

A Reminder To Myself

The key to happiness: consistency. Double lives, triple lives, masks, lies: they may serve short-term purposes, but they're soul-corroding; they eat away at health as much as cigarettes and bacteria. A certain amount of repression is obviously necessary: the you at home can never be the same as the you at work or school. But when you're forcing laughter, adjusting your mannerisms, changing your vocabulary to fit each situation, you are undoing yourself. It is a charade, and is impossible to maintain forever unless you become too dead to care. The different aspects of yourself will spill over; the stresses and worries will be consistent even if you are not. You will be hated by some people, always, so don't bother trying to avoid it. To be hated for legitimate reasons, or by people you respect, is a negative thing. But to be hated by fools, bigots, fakes, thugs; these are signs of success, proof of principles. One true friend is more important than a thousand enemies. Always hit back, and be mean when necessary; but only when called for. Nice guys finish last, because nice guys are a lie. They're holding something back, therefore they're holding themselves back. If you're angry, express it. Calmly if possible; if not, then not. Respect is everything; and to earn it is not to think about it, but to be it. Always evolve. Be willing to change. But on your own terms, at your own pace; not to be a chameleon or to keep up with the crowd. Don't overthink, but never forget. And write, always write, to remind yourself.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Life And Its Cruel Little Taunts

Little things... little things... the mosquitoes that drain you slowly, one bite at a time. And biting back is like biting into a wall. Only certain elements: highs natural or other, can turn it into a wall of chocolate. Yes, a wall of chocolate. Where every bite is delicious, until you become bloated and nauseous and... alas, you're unhappy again, and the wall turns back to stone. Such is life. For me, the little things that bite include dropping my discman, then keeping it shut with an elastic, then having it skip on the bus--skipping not enough to make me turn it off, but just enough to make my teeth grit. These little things also include headphones that keep falling out of my ears; burning the roof of my mouth; the sound of loud Chinese voices outside my door at four in the morning; the messes that slowly accumulate in my room and workspace; what I thought would be great pictures of a night scene coming out all black; my computer crashing, not letting me type, not letting me close windows, and generally acting the part of a fickle Greek god; shoelaces that just won't stay done up; the slow inexorable march of time; being conned into giving money to a piece of trash with a sob story; the constant loss of pens, albums, notebooks, jackets, hats, watches, books, friends, keys and, in at least one case, a Swiss army knife, to the black hole of oblivion; the gradual, unavoidable scratching of CDs; the seemingly endless wait for people, buses and changes that never come; and the feeling of never being completely satisfied with anything I write, including this. There are more of these little pincers, these little hands that slap; as many as the day is long and the night is wide. But to name them is to revive them, at least in memory, and as my guardian always told me, even the itchiest scabs are best left unpicked.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

A Permanent Soundtrack

I wish I could live my life with a slinky bass line in my head, one to fit every situation. When tension or excitement builds up, the drums kick in. With eruptions of emotion, or sex, come the guitars; and a little sprinkling of keyboard always, to accentuate heightened suspense. Maybe add some violin, or brass; a string section when appropriate. The transition would be seamless, the tone of the music blissful or angry, upbeat or melancholy; but always cathartic, always exactly what is needed. It would scare away inhibitions, those elderly traditionalists of the mind. And tumors, they wouldn't stand a chance; they'd crumble like vampires in the sun. If ever a moment of doubt should arrive; if ever anxiety should rear its twitching head; I'd simply turn the volume up, blasting the specters of the mind away, with wave after sonic wave. Headphones could not compare. Seven hundred dollar speaker systems could not compare. Concerts, although closest, still could not compare. It's why Heaven has a choir; and even God likes to listen.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Rapid Life Overhaul

Upon staying up all night to finish an essay, falling asleep at 5:00 AM, then sleeping through the class I needed to attend in order to hand it in and thereby getting an automatic zero, I've decided I've reached a turning point. It's not so much that I've hit rock bottom, it's more like I've been bludgeoning myself with sharp, poison-tipped rocks as some sort of unconscious reflex for far too long. Time for a Rapid Life Overhaul. Why Rapid Life Overhaul? I thought of it in the shower and liked the sound of it. Basically I'm taking this opportunity, this brief window of opportunity wherein my will to change isn't beat down by my intrinsic laziness, to undergo extreme reform. The days of profligate spending are over; I need hard, fiscally conservative discipline to bring myself back to fighting shape. I must run myself like a warhorse and ram through the decadence that is my Troy. To this end, I have a five point plan:

1. Pick a reasonable time to go to bed, a reasonable time to wake up, and follow this routine each day. If unable to fall asleep, lie down with eyes closed and fake it. Through hard work and persistence, illusions can become reality, and stasis can become sleep.
2. The Internet is a marvelous thing. It is also a hideous, amorphous blob that slowly digests its victims until their lives have been reduced to easy-to-swallow gruel without them even noticing. As the process of becoming anti-social human gruel is not without its charms, I don't plan on leaving the Internet for good, simply cutting back on my intake.
3. Knowledge is power. Every sentence read is a bullet you can spit at your opponents, and every book read is a heat-seeking missile that can be fired at will. Therefore, I'll try to read a bit more.
4. Think first. If everyone remembered to do this, the world would be a much better, or at least quieter place. Idiot things said, idiot things done; do them enough, and you become one. And once you become one, you start saying things like "jokes" and watching the OC.
5. Exercise. It got Arnold Schwarzenegger to the Governor's Mansion, surely it can get me some sort of yes-man position at my local Alderman's office. In addition to the obvious reasons of health and respect, getting in shape would allow me to feel the same joy I now get looking down at fat people from looking down at thin and lazy people. Then again, I like being a thin and lazy person. So maybe I'll just take the occasional constitutional and settle for that.

Other possible goals: join the army, write a novel, become devoutly religious, start a band, introduce myself to heroin, kill a man in Reno just to watch him die, and get some volunteer work done.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The Head Wide Open Guide To Europe

What follows is a stream-of-consciousness guide to Europe based on hearsay, stereotypes and outdated history. I will march forth in world-conqueror style from west to east, Portugal to Ural Mountains, skipping over a few forgettable former provinces of the Austro-Hungarian empire and minute fiefdoms. Although I've never been to Europe, I've had my hand in various ethno-tribal conflicts there, so I feel somewhat qualified to speak about what has variously been called the Dark Continent, World Warzone, Greater Germany and Asia's Mutant Limb. Plan your vacations accordingly.

The westernmost nation of Europe, Portugal is notable historically for being the midget with the three-hundred pound pet monkey named Brazil. Its inhabitants, or at least emigrants, have the unfortunate habit of calling themselves Porkchops. The Portuguese were the last Europeans to relinquish their colonies, likely because they knew they had nothing else going for them. When your country's most prized possession is Angola, perhaps some national soulsearching is in order.

As the plunderer of the two richest, greatest empires of the New World, the Aztec and the Inca, Spain apparently buried all its booty on a desert island, happy to return to its comfortable status as part of the European trifecta of largely uninfluential but lovable Latin womanizers along with Portugal and Italy. Prone to occasional bouts of Inquisition, but otherwise harmless.

The Lucille Ball to Germany's Ricky Arnez, France is probably most famous for its revolution, which was similar in principle to America's except the monarchy was actually restored in the end; and the Corsican Napoleon Bonaparte, renowned for his sale of Louisiana to the United States and minor territorial gains on the European mainland.

The Netherlands, Belgium and little Luxembourg together form what is cutely called Benelux. Noted for its production of pudding, Belgium once controlled the aptly named Belgian Congo, which was raped and pillaged in a process equivalent to a three-inch white man raping a 400-pound black woman - horrible to watch but hard to turn away from. Meanwhile the Netherlands, famous for its dykes and wooden shoes, has been affectionately called Europe's Littlest Congo. Luxembourg is most noted for its position as the "Lux" in Benelux.

Great Britain:
The presumptuously titled Great Britain, although in recent times overshadowed by its former North American colony, Canada, is still perhaps the greatest island-nation of Europe next to Iceland and Malta. Britain is justly famous for its former vast colonial empire, managed largely through Welsh pluck, Cornish verve, Scottish bravado and a dash of English manpower.

Unlike Britain, Ireland was never conquered by the Romans, reportedly because it wasn't considered worth the bother. This makes the Roman Empire wiser than the British.

Possibly responsible for the Danish, Denmark geographically resembles an outstretched middle finger rising from the primordial blob that is Germany. Its primary exports are fairytales, existential musings on despair and Viking longships.

Responsible for such great historical figures as Hansel and Gretel, Germany mostly sat out the 20th century. Some of its more notable contributions to the world of fashion include the Bismarckian moustache, the Nietzschean moustache and the Chaplinesque moustache, which was once so popular that it held nearly all of Europe under its sway. However resistance from the Georgian walrus-rug to the East, a popular style among workers, and the obstinate clean-shaven upper lip across the strait foiled further attempts at complete male grooming domination.

Despite an unfair reputation as the dullards of Europe, the Poles have actually managed to acquire both the top and bottom of the world with nary a casualty. The theory that Poland provoked Nazi Germany into war in order to conquer Eastern Germany for "pollacksraum" has been largely discredited; though Poland's merciless provoking of Russia through blatant independence did make the resultant ursine aggression inevitable.

The swarthy people of Scandinavia were once the Vikings of Europe, but through the modern welfare state, ingeniously switched to robbing themselves instead.

The Finns are a much-maligned and misunderstood people, and in order not to further any misconceptions, I will speak of them no further.

The most distant part of the continent, Iceland's long-term geopolitical strategy has been to wait out the centuries while the European Great Powers exhaust themselves through internecine warfare. Then, as the great cities lie in ruins and the people lie dead or exhausted, the longships and horned helmets will come out and Pax Icelandica will reign supreme! At present they continue to wait patiently.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania:
These three countries are collectively known as the Baltic states, not to be confused with the Balkan states. Long-standing ethnic conflicts here have pitted the Serbs, Bosnians and Croats against one another. Perhaps some sort of internationalist ideology could unite the warring parties.

No one knows quite what Belarus is. Possibly a subspecies of walrus. Belarus is also known as "White Russia," ironic considering its mixed population of displanted Nigerians and wayward Polynesians, both moved there by a whim of Stalin.

The former breadbasket of the Soviet Union, the Ukraine had the bread beaten out of it in the famous "War of Emaciated Peasant Aggression" of the 1930s. Since then it has achieved some recompense through the unleashing of its secret weapon, Codename Nikita Khrushchev.

The sun never sets on the Moldovan Empire, though it never rises either.

The oversized, awkward giant of Europe, Russia should be heavily encouraged to get rid of its lands east of the Urals to make the division between Asia and Europe easier to mark on a map. Russia was the largest member of the Soviet Union, and was largely responsible for doing the grunt-work for the internationalist socialist ambitions of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Don't let the name fool you. The only thing Romania has in common with Beatlemania is an alliance with the Nazis in World War II and the off-and-on killing of Gypsies.

Infamous for a preponderance of Bulgars, Bulgaria was not where the Battle of the Bulge was fought. Bulgaria's national hero is also emphatically not Basil II the Bulgar-Slayer, former Emperor of Byzantium. For obvious reasons.

Formerly known as Constantinople, the Turks seem to have changed the name purely out of spite toward former Roman Emperor Constantine. The small Turkish portion of the Balkans on which it sits is commonly known as Turkey-in-Europe, and serves as a geographic footstool for the former Sublime Porte.

After helping found what would eventually become Western civilization, the Greeks spent the next few millennia perfecting the gyro. They continue to work at it, leaving non-Hellenic barbarian outsiders to inherit such formerly Greek pursuits as science, philosophy, athletics and relevance.

Half-Turkish and half-Greek. A turkey gyro, basically, if both sides of the gyro wanted to expel the other. So a messy turkey gyro.

The Former Yugoslavia:
A plethora of ethnic groups make the former Yugoslavia their home, proudly letting their rampant nationalism make up for their lack of actual national accomplishments. Rwanda for white people.

They're actually Slavs with only a name tying them to Alexander the Great, but let the kids have their fun!

Interestly, John Belushi was of Albanian descent. Jim Belushi too, although that's something the Albanian government has tried hard to suppress. Albanians are renowned for their blood feuds, which should be praised for bringing irrational Balkan hatreds from a national to a more personal level.

Still one united double-country as far as I'm concerned, this former Central Power is no longer a power, but still resolutely, defiantly, central. Austria is noted for producting the world's quintessential dictator, action star and psychiatrist, respectively. Hungary is noted for producing the world's quintessential strippers, to be found shaking their nation's bounty all across North America.

The pizza and painters balance out the mobsters and Fascists by a hair. Interestly, all four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were named after famous Italian renaissance artists. Also noteworthy is that expatriate thespian Tony Danza functions as the Italian national mascot, similar in function to America's Uncle Sam or Britain's John Bull, except instead of embodying patriotic determination he embodies Italy's role as lovably oafish housekeeper to the Anglo-Saxon world.

Czecho & Slovakia:
A national comic pairing of the likes never before seen, this Amos and Andy of Central Europe split up due to financial and ethnic differences. I recommend the powers that be try for Belakraine or Germmark next.

Despite its heavy arsenal of knives to slash and gold bricks to lob, Switzerland still maintains the position neither winner nor loser can respect: neutrality. In the case of invasion, their trump card is to throw money in the air, hoping the enemy soldiers will split ranks.

Why end at Malta? Because the Knights who make their home there secretly control the fortunes of the entire continent. Interesting sidenote: Malta was originally known as Melba (after the toast).