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Recant Gone Rotten [Apr. 16th, 2015|07:15 pm]

+ After years of switching around my personal to-do system every few months, I’ve discovered that HabitRPG actually motivates me to do things.

+ Travel! God I fucking love travel adventures. Big, small, close, far, for work, for a vacation, to eat pizza, whatever. Anywhere. Let’s do it. Recent adventures include Vegas, Gananoque, Detroit, North Bay, Montreal, DC, and more (plus Seoul last fall)! On the docket for later this year: NYC, Windsor, Baltimore, Montreal, Manila, Chicago, Prague, Ottawa, Geneva, Portland, João Pessoa, and more. Holy shit you guys.

+ Spending so much amazing time with Audra, and with Natalie, and with Natalie and Audra, and with Audra and Natalie and Chris. I am seriously lucky to have their love and friendship. A+++ WOULD LOVE/FRIEND AGAIN

+ Inky and Clyde, rescue cats. I can’t even handle these guys.

+ I just started mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. It’s a kind of meditation training, I guess? More importantly it’s SCIENCE, and even though it is a lot harder than it has any right to be, I think it’s gonna be good.

+ I moved! I loved my old place but my landlord was literally insane (probably she will read this because she is literally insane), and so it came to pass that I needed to GTFO. Josh and I got a crazy deal on a place that is so nice it is actually kind of comical. And now we live there.

+ My new place sounds great! Literally. The other big problem with my last place is that my room had the worst acoustics in the universe. Everything sounded like garbage and making music in it was frustrating to the point of FUCK IT I’M OUT. My new room sounds like a band of angels hold watch in every corner to exorcise all early reflections and standing waves. Much nicer.

+ There have for sure been (and continue to be) Serious Challenges lately, but every single one of them is looking up.

+ One last + for a rare all-positive status update.

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matociquala: If I am ever in a position where Connie Willis, David Gerrold, and George Martin are&# [Apr. 15th, 2015|09:25 pm]


If I am ever in a position where Connie Willis, David Gerrold, and George Martin are lined up to tell me I goofed, I hope I have the strength of character to back the fuck down and start fixing things.

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Photo [Mar. 30th, 2015|05:10 pm]

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Photo [Mar. 30th, 2015|05:10 pm]

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Something of Beauty [Mar. 30th, 2015|02:46 pm]

Playing Bloodborne isn’t all I’ve been doing, but it’s a lot of what I’ve been doing.

Bloodborne Screenshot

Hidetaka Miyazaki’s Transcendent Quest for Beauty in Bloodborne:

…one of the handful of art designers of the game, Masanori Waragai, tells how he brought a design for the game’s undead dragon to Miyazaki. Looking at the sketch of a disgusting beast, swarming with maggots, Miyazaki chastised Waragai for relying on gross-out imagery: “Can’t you instead try to convey the deep sorrow of a magnificent beast doomed to a slow and possibly endless descent into ruin?”

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Photo [Mar. 30th, 2015|01:35 pm]

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Jason Hopkins Imagines A Horrific Architectural Posthuman Form [Feb. 7th, 2015|04:34 pm]
Jason Hopkins Imagines A Horrific Architectural Posthuman Form: Jason Hopkins - DesignJason Hopkins creates digital sculptures that ooze with body horror. The collection, called “Abhominal,” is replete with organic blobs, sharp angles suggesting knees and elbows, and pink skin stretched over geometric frames, looking for all the world like fleshy jungle … Continue reading

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An indelible mark [Nov. 6th, 2014|07:09 pm]

Dreams are impossible, intimate things. Ephemeralia that come to us and leave unremembered. Thick structures of ironglass and desire that are built upon, night after night.

It would be completely insane if it wasn’t completely normal. What, you mean that you just lie down for eight hours and you can’t move? And the whole time you’re experiencing and thinking things that you have no control over? And then you just get up and have a shower and go to work?

A lot of the things we call dreams aren’t dreams in the same sense. ‘Dream’ is just the coathook we hang our wishes on. Dream house, dream boy, dream life.

In any place that there are dreams, I dream of tattoos. I dream of deep swirls of scarification, magick woven deeply into the flesh and bound tight with scar. I dream of the perfect geometries of elementary particles, smashed together again and again so we can learn by tearing them apart.

I got my first tattoo fifteen years ago. It was at once aspirational and prescriptive, a way to both guide and bind my future self to the things I was worried about losing.

I have a new tattoo now, to guide and bind me. I travelled over 15,000 kilometres for it.

I’ll always be able to find my way home now.



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nevver: The living are only a species of the dead [Oct. 16th, 2014|06:02 pm]


The living are only a species of the dead

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terrysdiary: HOMESICK GHOSTS KEEP YOU AWAKE [Oct. 15th, 2014|11:03 pm]



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nevver: Springfield, Tim Doyle [Oct. 8th, 2014|06:20 pm]


Springfield, Tim Doyle

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My Deconstructed Stars and Swallows by Xoil (Needles Side… [Sep. 20th, 2014|04:29 pm]
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My Deconstructed Stars and Swallows by Xoil (Needles Side Tattoo, France)

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Kevin Weir. [Sep. 10th, 2014|07:18 pm]

Kevin Weir.

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Photo [Aug. 26th, 2014|06:35 pm]

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What advice do you have for a 14 year old girl? [Aug. 22nd, 2014|09:56 pm]

This is so vague I love it. The voices you are hearing are real, god is speaking to you. The nation of France needs you. Don your armor, take up arms, lead the French army. This is your destiny, joan. When the flames come for you let them lick your bones and laugh.

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and then I saw Colby on the Street and my fantasy died by… [Aug. 22nd, 2014|02:44 pm]

and then I saw Colby on the Street and my fantasy died by Cameron Stalheim.

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edatrix: aatombomb: Whatcha thinking about?  I dunno, just… [Aug. 14th, 2014|10:47 pm]



Whatcha thinking about? 

I dunno, just kitteh stuff I guess.

i can’t read any more “news”.

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Photo [Aug. 7th, 2014|05:51 pm]

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Fifteen going on 40 [Aug. 6th, 2014|08:37 pm]

Now that we’ve gotten our POSITIVE EMOTIONS out of the way it is probably time to write a post about how I’m quietly having a secret meltdown.

There is so much going on right now that I don’t have the means, resources, or support system to deal with. I don’t have people I can talk to about it. So much of it is so deeply personal and complicated that I worry even posting this vague update is going to bring down new stresses around my head, even if it’s just trying to explain to hurt friends that I don’t think I can talk to them about it.

I’m also feeling more pressure and demands on my time than I ever have before. I’m working a seriously unsustainable amount of hours right now, and while I’m making Big Changes to bring that down to something more reasonable, I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet.

With the (very important!) exception of being able to pay my rent and afford food, I don’t think there’s a single aspect of my life that isn’t fraught right now. Everything has sharp edges or a part moving sideways when it needs to go straight.

I’m hoping to get a lot of this shit settled by the end of August. But even then, that’s three and a half weeks of walking through glass doors and hoping I don’t cut anything too vital.

And then it’ll be September.

When do I get summer?


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slimgiltsoul: GEM DISEASE [Jul. 31st, 2014|07:15 pm]



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asylum-art: Oral:phabet – A strange and grotesque organic… [Jul. 31st, 2014|05:32 pm]


Oral:phabet – A strange and grotesque organic typography by

Oral: alphabet“, a strange and very organic typography designed by the Japanese artist Takayuki Ogawa, shaping each letter of the alphabet with very realistic mouths, teeth, and  tongues.

Photo: Kyoutaro Hayashi

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No shit. [Jul. 26th, 2014|10:03 pm]

No shit.

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ghostbongweedofthesamurai: heyreallygiger: ghostbongweedofthesamurai: “wishing upon a&# [Jul. 26th, 2014|07:54 pm]




“wishing upon a star” is perfectly true and scientifically valid, except that wishes are limited by the speed of light like everything else, so picking any random star will see you long since dead by the time the wish makes it back to you. that being said if you have a star chart and dont mind waiting 8-10 years you should go hog wild

whats the rule for planets. can i wish upon a mars


this is the astronomical explanation for that song that goes “can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars, i could really use a wish right now”

the narrator needs a wish to come true right now, and wants a wish target that would make the light-speed turn-around time as quick as possible

any object can be “wished upon” but high-energy sources like stars are generally your best bet to get a wish to stick. wish success also scales depending on the size and output of a given star; i.e. a quasar vs. a gas giant or rocky planet.

wishes aimed at solid surfaces display reflective properties in much the same way as other frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum, which can be taken advantage of (“bouncing” a wish off the moon toward a closer, more powerful star below the earth’s horizon, etc)

wishing on the sun is possible but not recommended in accordance with the “genie’s gambit” law of reciprocal irony

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“Molly never saw them clearly—they were a light leaping toward her and a cry that dazzle [Jul. 25th, 2014|11:46 pm]

Molly never saw them clearly—they were a light leaping toward her and a cry that dazzled her eyes. She was wise enough to know that no mortal was ever meant to see all the unicorns in the world, and she tried to find her own unicorn and look only at her. But there were too many of them, and they were too beautiful. Blind as the Bull, she moved to meet them, holding out her arms.

The unicorns would surely have run her down, as the Red Bull had trampled Prince Lír, for they were mad with freedom. But Schmendrick spoke, and they streamed to the right and left of Molly and Lír and himself—some even springing over them—as the sea shatters on a rock and then comes whirling together again. All around Molly there flowed and flowered a light as impossible as snow set afire, while thousands of cloven hooves sang by like cymbals. She stood very still, neither weeping nor laughing, for her joy was too great for her body to understand.

- Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn, Chapter 13 (via pretentiouskneecap)

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The sensible effect, the feeling to which the mind is subjected [Jul. 22nd, 2014|06:44 pm]

I’m trying this thing where I write about emotions but don’t publish those entries to Facebook. It’s LiveJournal or bust around these parts. So here are some things with an emotion in them.


I talk a lot about how amazing Audra Williams is in person but I don’t do enough of it online. She is a perfect partner and is loving and supportive in ways I didn’t even know possible.

She’s a crazy amazing writer and also better at social media than possibly anyone else in the world and I’m kind of not joking there.

She’s my champion when things are great and she sings to me when things are tough. She is part of my heart walking around outside my body.

I love you, Audra.


It seems totally impossible that it has been less than a month since my friendship with the incredible Natalie Zed became something else, that it happened a week before she moved to Montreal, and that it is somehow still possible for us to have a thing.

I can’t believe how much fun and light and love she brings to every conversation, every hangout, every Facebook thread about whatever weirdo Scottish art-horror movie we just watched.

I also can’t believe just how supportive Audra is with the both of us, and how absurdly reasonable and loving she is to us while we figure out what this is going to look like.


There are still tough things going on, and sad things, and stressful things, and other things. But even while all that is happening, I wake up every day feeling lucky for how amazing the people in my life are.

Audra, Natalie, and everyone else bringing love and trust into my life: Thank you.

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There is a season [Jul. 16th, 2014|04:03 pm]

It is a time of transitions.

- I still miss Mothra terribly.

- Blinky has gotten super clingy since he has never been alone in a house before.

+ So I am fostering kittens from the Annex Cat Rescue that are waiting to be adopted.

- Blinky finds this to be of questionable utility.

+ I’m making big changes to the work that I do, so that I can do more work that is awesome, and less work that is not.

± Audra and I are starting to get more requests for awesome work than we can take on.

+ Audra and I are super in love and working to make our relationship better all the time.

+ I’m in a new relationship with a gal named Natalie and I am super excited about it.

- Anna and I have ended our romantic relationship and I am super bummed about it.

- I agonized over which one of those last two lines to put first so that no one felt dissed by it and eventually had to flip a coin.

± I used a PRNG instead of a real coin.

+ I made a pilgrimage to Bill Watterson’s hometown, Chagrin Falls, which I’ve wanted to do for fifteen years.

+ I got to see amazing original Calvin and Hobbes art at a rare exhibition taking place at the Ohio State University Cartoon Library and Museum.

+ I’m getting a tattoo by the artist that I think is straight-up the best working tattoo artist in the world.

! Restraint turns fifteen years old next month.

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You guys eat pizza? [Jun. 14th, 2014|11:01 pm]
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I know my last update really harshed everyone’s mellow. But now pay heed, friends, for this is a joyous day. For I have made delicious deep dish pizza and I am going to tell you how I did it!


I’ll apologize in advance for over-explaining things. I had to google what ‘proofing yeast’ was before I made this.

First, the dough recipe. You can adjust the proportions of ingredients if you like. Use the Deep-Dish Pizza Dough Calculator to figure out the exact amount of each ingredient. For reference, I made this in a 14″ pan that was 1.5″ deep. I think the ‘thickness factor’ I chose was 0.12 or so. Given my dough proportions, these are the ingredient amounts I used:

Flour Blend* (100%):

Water (47%):

ADY (0.6%):

Salt (1%):

Olive Oil (6%):

Corn Oil (12%):

Butter/Margarine (6%):

Sugar (1.5%):

Total (174.1%):
459.94 g  |  16.22 oz | 1.01 lbs

216.17 g  |  7.63 oz | 0.48 lbs

2.76 g | 0.1 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.73 tsp | 0.24 tbsp

4.6 g | 0.16 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.82 tsp | 0.27 tbsp

27.6 g | 0.97 oz | 0.06 lbs | 6.13 tsp | 2.04 tbsp

55.19 g | 1.95 oz | 0.12 lbs | 4.09 tbsp | 0.26 cups

27.6 g | 0.97 oz | 0.06 lbs | 5.84 tsp | 1.95 tbsp

6.9 g | 0.24 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.73 tsp | 0.58 tbsp

800.76 g | 28.25 oz | 1.77 lbs | TF = 0.1352

*The flour blend was 80% unbleached all-purpose flour, and 20% semolina.

First I put the active dry yeast in a shot glass with 1oz of warm water (100°F). I mixed the flours, salt, and sugar together while waiting for the yeast to foam up. Then I added the ADY mixture and the rest of the water to the dry mix, and mixed it together for a short bit. Then I added the oils, and told my mixer to go to town with a bread hook for just over ten minutes, until there weren’t any weird surface irregularities left. I added the softened butter during the last 30 seconds, so that it doesn’t fully mix unto the dough. Which is what you want.

I put the dough ball into an oiled bowl, and left it out on my counter with some plastic wrap on top of it for five hours. I had to knock it down twice during that time. I also had to google what ‘knocking down dough’ meant. After it was ready to go, I tossed the dough ball in my deep dish pan, after spraying a bit of PAM on the bottom of the pan. Protip! Buy ‘grilling’ PAM and not ‘baking’ PAM. Baking PAM has a weird artificial sugar cake flavour to it. It is weird trust me.


I pressed out the dough from the centre to the sides of the pan, so that there was an even, flat layer of dough on the bottom of the pan. Then I took the edges and pinched the dough as high up the sides of the pan as I could. I made the sides as thin as I could without having them collapse. They don’t need to be structural, they’re just keeping the sauce in. It took a few passes to get them to stay.



After the dough was all pressed out, I covered the bottom of the pan with sliced whole-milk mozzarella. I used just under a pound and it was a good amount. I also added a handful of provolone slices on top of the mozza to top it off.



I sliced open three italian sweet sausages I got from the deli, and spread the meat around the pan. Next time I’ll use a bit more. I also sliced up some pepperoni and added it to half of the pizza because of YOLO.


I added the sauce, which was a tall glass bottle of pureed tomatoes. Ingredients: Tomatoes. I added some seasoning to the top (peppers, garlic, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, etc), and then a handful of parmesan cheese.




I preheated the oven an hour earlier to 480 with my pizza stone inside. I tossed the pizza in, and lowered the temp to 450. After 35 mins I checked on it, and it looked like it needed a little more time, so I rotated the pizza and gave it another 8 minutes or so.

After that, I took the pizza out of the oven and let it stand for 5 minutes. Then I somehow extracted the pizza without destroying it, chopped it up, and everyone’s life instantly became at least 12% better.


Post-pizza critique: Holy hannah this was good! Especially for my first time making dough. There’s room for improvement on the dough, it didn’t stretch super-evenly. But I imagine that will come with time. There was also a lot of grease when it came out of the oven, but after a bit of dabbing with paper towels it was fine. Next time I might use leaner sausages, or cheese with lower milk fat content. Beyond that, I don’t know if I’d change much. I’ll try a different tomato sauce to get something a bit less sweet, but that’s a minor personal preference.

If I ordered a deep-dish in Chicago and this is what they served me, I would be at that pizzeria every time I was in town.




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Hearts and Cats and Hearts [Jun. 12th, 2014|02:49 am]

I’m having one of those days where my heart hurts and I can’t find anything to help. Sad and anxious. Lonely and I don’t want to be around people. Hungry and I don’t want anything to eat. Tired and I don’t want to sleep.

In Mothra’s last few minutes, I held her and walked the length of my kitchen over and over again. The vet had given her a sedative, and soon she’d be relaxed enough that he’d be able to run an IV and give her the rest of the meds to end it all. And I had this crazy panicked moment where I nearly said you know what, let’s call this whole thing off — you can go back to your office, I’ll stay here with my cat, the sedative will wear eventually off, and she’ll still be alive and everything will be fine!

I didn’t say it. It wouldn’t have been fine. It would have been stupid and cruel and selfish. But it was what I wanted more than anything else in the world at that moment.

Instead I told her I loved her, and when I put her down and let go of her for the last time, I made sure she could see me every moment until it was over. If she was aware enough to know something was happening around her, I wanted her to know I was there.

My heart breaks all over again every day when I come home and she’s not here, and I see how totally attention-starved Blinky is. She’s never been alone in a house before and it’s freaking her out. I’m nowhere near ready for another cat, but it’s not fair of me to keep Blinky lonely and unhappy because browsing Petfinder.com makes me sad. So I’ll get another cat. And hopefully they’ll get along and hopefully it’s not as hard as I think it’s going to be. It’s hard enough already.

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Status report, day 12784 [May. 22nd, 2014|02:42 pm]

There is a new Antigen Shift record! Nick and I made it. With our bare hands! You can check it out on Bandcamp and read an interview on I Die: You Die about the album.

Antigen Shift - Brotherhood

Also, we are playing tomorrow at Aftermath, AKA Fake Kinetik. It’ll be nice to play a big festival show and then sleep in my own bed.

Also, It is my birthday. Happy birthday, me!

I am thirty-five years old. Only thirty years away from that sweet, sweet movie theatre senior discount card.

There might be a new meteor shower tomorrow night. I’m going to try to catch it after my gig. Hop in a car, drive as far as I can before it starts, and watch the sky.

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モスラ [May. 7th, 2014|12:17 am]

I don’t even know where to start.

Under my skin is broken glass and exposed wire.

My home has never felt so empty. I go to sleep expecting her to jump up on me at any moment, and I wake up thinking I’ll see her in the kitchen when I go upstairs.

I have lost my beloved little Mothra and there isn’t anything to be done about it.

There is so much happening that it’s tough to figure out how I feel about anything. A lot of it I can’t write about, because it’s not my story to tell. But it’s there, and it hurts.

I’ve had a lot of work lately, which is good. I’ve been taking more photos lately, which is also good. I went to Chicago last month, which was fun. I got a free Camaro for the weekend last weekend (Thanks, Chevy!), which was ridiculous. Spent the weekend driving to Unionville and Niagra Falls and St. Jacobs and Collingwood and wherever else seemed like a good idea at the time.

I also pulled the trigger on kitchen gear I’ve wanted to pick up for a while; Toronto doesn’t know how to make pizza so I’m gonna have to learn to do it myself.

All of these good and fun things happening make it harder to talk about how upset I am about all the other things that are happening. Sure there are all these terrible things happening but hey I got to drive to a haunted house in a fuck-off yellow convertible transformers car so that should fix it all, right?

Bumblebee and Me

I’m okay. I’m not in danger, I’m not drinking my worries away, I’m not sick, I’m not broke, I’m not homeless. I’ve got friends who love me and all kinds of toys.

I’m not okay. I fight back tears every time I’m in the pet food isle. Being at home makes me sad. People I love are in trouble and in pain. I’ve got so much clutter in my house that I’m drowning.

I’m okay. I’m not okay.

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Sit down at a keyboard and bleed [Apr. 8th, 2014|12:48 pm]

Just over a year ago I wrote a big post about how I wanted to focus more on writing and how I felt sidetracked by the work I’ve put into music production (despite how much I love it).

A year ago.

Just a few minutes ago I started writing the exact same post before I realized I had already written that post. A year ago!

Do you know what I haven’t done in that last year? Finished and published a story. Joined a writer’s group. Shown my work to a friend for critique. Accomplished anything meaningful as a writer.

I enrolled in an SF&F writing course, but I was too busy to actually participate. At least, that’s how I remember it now. I was for sure super busy. But was I so busy that I couldn’t have found an extra couple of hours here and there? How much time did I spend clicking links aimlessly in the Facebook/Twitter/MetaFilter Labyrinth of Lost Time?

The only thing I hate more than writing about writing is writing about not writing. Although if we’re gonna be real about this, I hate actually not writing more than writing about not writing.

And so here we are.

I’ve been taking a lot of photos lately. It’s a beautiful contrast to the problems of writing a new album or a novella. No outlines, no b-story, no character development. Just the briefest moment in time, preserved crystal clear forever.

Toronto by Wire

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The last of the Radium Girls [Mar. 5th, 2014|12:38 am]

Mae Keane, the last of the Radium Girls, died Saturday. She was 107 years old.

Mae Keane did not care much for the job she had during the summer of 1924, painting radioactive radium onto watch dials to make them glow in the dark.

The pay was 8 cents a dial and Keane, then 18, was not as fast as her supervisor wanted her to be. Keane and her co-workers at Waterbury Clock Co., all young women, were told they could paint faster if they dipped their brushes into the radium-laden paint and then sharpened the bristles with their lips. But the paint was bitter and Keane would not “lip-point,” as the practice was known.

“I made 62 cents one day,” Keane told The Courant 10 years ago. “That’s when my boss came to me and said I better find another job.”

Mae Keane

After years of Radium being added to everything from chocolate to lipstick, the death of five Radium Girls (along with the paint’s inventor) brought a light to the unforgivable conditions in US factories, and spurred the tightening of industrial safety and food, drug, and cosmetic regulations.

Even today, you can still walk through the graveyards of Radium City with a geiger counter, and know where the Radium Girls were buried.

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Top Ten Albums of 2014 [Jan. 29th, 2014|12:19 am]

Okay not really.

In 2008, Have A Nice Life released a double LP, Deathconsciousness. It is as close to a perfect album as a record can get when it’s this lo-fi and raw. It sounds like it was recorded in the basement where you first learned how hard life was really going to be.

That’s what it sounds like to me at least, maybe your basement was actually quite nice.

From the amazing Sputnik Music review of Deathconsciousness that you should really read:

On this album, I feel I wouldn’t be able to sum up my feelings on the countless moments that make this album amazing. Deathconsciousness has a dense, reverby wall of sound and a dense, lofty concept that is opaque and difficult to see through. Moments blend together and amble along for minutes at a time in the swirling mass of ideas that permeates this album. This album is the antithesis of one created by a band like Hot Cross. It is impenetrable and atmospheric, instead of tautly constructed and brittle. Deathconsciousness is an album to be enjoyed on a long car drive or a pensive late night.

Now there is a new record.

Have A Nice Life

It leaked after being up on the Pitchfork advance streamer, and I have been listening to it non-stop since. They’re posting a few of the tracks in on the Flensner Records Soundcloud. You should try to find a full copy if you can. It’s perfect music for these short days and cold nights.

Are there winter clouds in your heart? Have a nice life.

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Top Ten Albums of 2013 [Dec. 23rd, 2013|11:39 am]

Photo by Chris / CC BY NC SA

There are a lot of great 2013 records that aren’t on this list. And there are a lot of great 2013 records I haven’t heard yet. And hierarchies are bullshit constructs. And yet here we are!

10: Eluvium – Nightmare Ending

Guitar drones and ambient synths mixed with moody neo-classical. The only ambient record on this list that stays ambient the entire way through, without drifting into abraisive noise solos. For fans of Stars Of The Lid and Eno-style ambient.

9: Melt-Banana – Fetch

2013 comeback records that don’t suck #1: Melt-Banana. I know that japanoise bands are not everyone’s cup of tea, but just listen to Zero, this album’s closer. How can you not love this record? We all have a little noise in our hearts.

8: Roly Porter – Life Cycle Of A Massive Star

Probably the shortest record on this list? This or the Melt-Banana. Beautiful concept, beautiful tones, beautiful progression from rich melodic Tangerine Dream style ambient into moments of brutal power electronics and back again. Fun Fact: When I first listened to this album, my music player locked up and looped a 10-second clip over and over, and I didn’t notice for nearly ten minutes.

7: Chelsea Wolfe – Pain Is Beauty

This record is like if Zola Jesus listened to Doom growing up instead of Industrial. The production reminds me a lot of Earth’s last few albums, but if you dragged it through the mud and then accidentally used the ‘shoegaze’ preset when you mixed it. Basically it sounds like a lot of good things is what I’m saying here.

6: Le Matos – Join Us

I don’t even know what kind of music this is. Italian Troncore. Vangelis does Georgio Moroder on the set of Zombi 2. Sega Master System racing games fondly remembered through fever dreams.

5: Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus

Fuck Buttons is the band that proves all this whining about kids today being too soft for noise music is bullshit. Listen to this fucking record, man. This is an Ant-Zen record, this is a Tympanik record. Except the band is playing huge festivals and people are losing their fucking shit over it.

4: Diaphane – Lifeforms

I’ve loved everything I’ve heard from Régis Baillet, each album more than the last. Whenever I listen to his music, it makes me want to be a better musician. Beautiful, melodic, haunting, beautiful. Long, progressive washes of synths and loops with rare moments of driving, frenetic energy.

3: The Haxan Cloak – Excavation

If the Eluvium record is Eno-style background ambient, this is lights-off / headphones-on ambient. It is not for playing in the background while you work on wrapping Christmas presents or make dinner. It is for deep listening. There is so much here. Also there are a lot of beats so probably ambient isn’t the best word to describe this anyway.

2: Gary Numan – Splinter

2013 comeback records that don’t suck #2. The best 90s industrial rock record since the 90s. Seriously. If half the tracks on this were released by NIN as instrumental demos from The Downward Spiral no one would bat an eye. Gary Numan is one of those rare vocalists who can make any style of music sound like he invented it, and after listening to this record, I’m not sure he didn’t.

1: Pet Shop Boys – Electric

2013 comeback records that don’t suck #3. The last few Pet Shop Boys records sounded like they were made by people who hated music. It was only with a sense of deep obligation to the 80s that I listened to this in the first place, actually. It’s hard to pick a #1 between this and the Gary Numan, but it was so incredible to hear a return to form for PSB that it gets the top pick. All Pet Shop Boys greatest hits albums need to be recalled so they can add Love Is A Bourgeois Construct to the tracklist.

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You always remember your first. [Dec. 10th, 2013|10:43 am]

We’ve known each other for twenty years now, and I can still remember the first time we met so vividly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something so breathtaking. You were the standard that everything after was judged by, and did they ever hate you for it.

We had a lot of good years, and even when it started to become clear that I needed to move forward, I kept coming back. I was so young, but you were always there, a reminder of what I needed and deserved. You were my touchstone.

Here’s to another twenty years, Doom.


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Woednesday [Nov. 27th, 2013|03:48 pm]

+ Audra and I are working on a redesign for an awesome company!
- We can’t say who it is just yet.
- I still have not been working very much on my own projects.
+ I have however successfully navigated a maze of twisty little passages to make sure a ton of different business/financial/legal/boring things are in order.
- My little cat friend Mothra is pretty sick, and we don’t know how much better she’s going to get.
- Winter is on the way.
- I’m so stressed about Mothra. And she hates all the meds and treatments I’m giving her, so she’s acting totally differently towards me. I don’t even know what to do with myself.
- Sigh.
+ I signed up for an online Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing class!
- I have been so busy that I haven’t actually been able to keep up with it at all.
± I’ve been thinking about running a tabletop campaign, but I don’t know if I have the time to do it up proper.
+ I was a panelist on a Kink in Pop Culture panel at Playground Conference, talking about kink culture and imagery in music!
+ I’ve been making a big effort to hang out with new cool peeps so that I don’t just hibernate all winter.
± Sometimes I can’t tell if I’m having a hangout or a date? Either is awesome! But sometimes I think I should pass a note across the table that says IS THIS A DATE PLEASE CIRCLE ONE [Y/N] THANK YOU

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What about the menz (day)? [Nov. 19th, 2013|03:33 pm]

Every year on International Women’s Day I have this little ritual where I defriend everyone on my Facebook and Twitter who posts WHY ISN’T THERE AN INTERNATIONAL MENS DAY!!!!

Because, you know, there is. It’s today. And if any of those dudes actually gave a fuck about issues that concern men, they would know about it. But basically no one knows about it, for whatever reason. So every year, on International Men’s Day, I have this little ritual where I post links and articles about issues that concern men.

Some of the posts I made last year:

So I make these posts and some people reply and say “There’s an International Men’s Day?” and we usually have a good conversation about it all. Today I went online and not only does everyone know that it’s International Men’s Day, but everyone is pretty upset about it. My friends list is full of people I know — people who do great gender activism that I respect — comparing it to white pride month, saying if you make Men’s Day posts you’re clearly sexist or an MRA, and all kinds of super snarky super dismissive bullshit. I cannot tell you how disappointing it is to wake up and read this over and over again, especially coming from people who usually have great analysis. I get that MRAs are shitty and there’s a knee-jerk reaction for people. But when we discuss issues that people respond emotionally to (like privilege), we ask that they take a moment to think through their knee-jerk reaction, and to look at what people are actually saying.

Here are some things that are true:

  • Some men are marginalized within our prevailing male culture.
  • A lot of men are victims of violence from within male culture.
  • A lot of men kill themselves for reasons that have to do with male culture.
  • A lot of boys drop out of school for reasons that have to do with male culture.
  • A lot of gay kids get the shit kicked out of them for reasons that have to do with male culture.

It’s not International Men’s Rights Day. It’s not International Male Pride Day. None of these issues are in any way adversarial towards women’s issues. This year’s focus is keeping men and boys safe. Keeping them safe by trying to address suicide, by fighting our culture’s expectations and complacence on the issue of men and violence, by addressing avoidable illnesses and death, and by examining how we perceive fatherhood and male role models. These are all positive, good things.

When men come into a feminist space and start saying WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ WHAT ABOUT THESE ISSUES, they get rightly told to scram and find their own spaces to have those conversations. So here it is. It’s International Men’s Day. If we can’t, today of all days, have a rational conversation about men’s issues without being pre-emptively snarked, what the fuck is the point in trying? Because the MRAs are just going to see it as more evidence of the Vast Feminist Conspiracy Against Men or whatever, and they’re going to double-down.

The only people that are going to get silenced are the people who actually give a shit what our feminist sisters think. I know I don’t have the will or the emotional fortitude to clean the well that the MRAs are poisoning.

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Healthcare in Ford Nation [Nov. 6th, 2013|10:53 am]
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I’m glad that people are talking about the reality that drug addiction is a health issue. I’m glad that my friends and the media are taking time to say that you shouldn’t shame someone for having a drug addiction. What’s being left out of the conversation is that not everyone who uses drugs is abusing them, and not everyone who abuses drugs is addicted to them.

I’m not the only person in the world with friends who are total dickheads when they drink. They’ll say shitty things, they’ll do shitty things, and you don’t want to be anywhere near them when they’re drinking. If they decide to get wasted every now and then and get into fights and drive home drunk, that doesn’t mean they’re an alcoholic. It just means they’re an asshole. Substance dependence is a serious medical issue. Being an asshole is not.

Have you ever been to a college town? Hung out at a university bar? Those drunk people trying to grab your ass or get in your face are assholes, not addicts, and it’s worth taking a second look at Rob Ford’s history and thinking about which profile he fits best.

But Jairus! Isn’t that a false dilemma? Sure. But being an alcoholic is a lot more than binge drinking and acting like a shithead, and being a drug addict is a lot more than smoking coke and calling someone a fag.

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If we knew what she knew, we’d stop too. [Aug. 20th, 2013|10:48 am]
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Pamela Jones founded GrokLaw in 2003, and for the last ten years it has provided invaluable analysis on legal issues concerning intellectual property, the DMCA, open source software, and digital privacy. The site has won countless awards from The EFF, Google, The FSF, and was selected by the US Library of Congress for inclusion in its internet materials collection.

Last week, the creator of Lavabit, an encrypted email service, shut down the mail service without warning, implying that he had received requests from the US government which would have forced him to become complicit in crimes against the American People. We don’t know what actually happened, because he can’t tell us:

There’s information that I can’t even share with my lawyer, let alone with the American public.

A few days later, Phil Zimmerman’s crypto communications company shut down their secure email service. And today, Pamela Jones has announced that she’s shutting down Groklaw:

The owner of Lavabit tells us that he’s stopped using email and if we knew what he knew, we’d stop too. There is no way to do Groklaw without email. Therein lies the conundrum. What to do?

What to do? I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure it out. And the conclusion I’ve reached is that there is no way to continue doing Groklaw, not long term, which is incredibly sad. But it’s good to be realistic. And the simple truth is, no matter how good the motives might be for collecting and screening everything we say to one another, and no matter how “clean” we all are ourselves from the standpont of the screeners, I don’t know how to function in such an atmosphere. I don’t know how to do Groklaw like this.

Groklaw is a collaboration, existing only because so many people have come together to shed light on what’s happening in the courts. Without the ability to confidentially discuss legal issues with experts, plaintiffs, lawyers and journalists, Groklaw can’t exist.

And so now, it doesn’t.

A selection of Groklaw articles by filthy light thief, via Metafilter:

  • The Grinch Who Stole Linux (November 7, 2003)
  • J’accuse! French bus service Transports Schiocchet Excursions is suing a group of ten women who carpool to work every day, alleging unfair competition with their bus line. (July 12, 2005)
  • Economics of death - How should right and wrong be measured? (July 14, 2005)
  • I fought the linux, and the linux won… SCO got a delisting notice from Nasdaq (April 28, 2007)
  • Rock and Rule - Virgin v. Thomas, the first RIAA backed lawsuit to make it to a jury trial looks likely to proceed early in October in Duluth Mn. (September 28, 2007)
  • The software patent cold war is getting less cold - Sun Microsystems announced a counter suit against Network Appliance, wherein they will draw on their “defensive portfolio” which is “one of the largest patent arsenals on the internet”. (October 26, 2007)
  • Monopoly is as monopoly does - Why Is Microsoft Seeking New State Laws That Allow it to Sue Competitors For Piracy by Overseas Suppliers? (March 24, 2011)
  • Battle at Troll Bridge - Apple has adopted new tactics in its patent war against the handheld industry (December 11, 2011)
  • Aaron Swartz’ 14,500 page Secret Service file - The U.S. Secret Service has begun releasing their roughly 14,500 pages on Aaron Swartz in response to a FOIA lawsuit against the DHS by Kevin Poulsen (August 14, 2013)

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An insult to my constituents [Aug. 7th, 2013|01:34 pm]

Toronto has released preliminary results for the 2013 Street Needs Assessment, and it doesn’t look great:

  • One in five homeless youth are gay/lesbian/bi/trans/queer.
  • Half of the homeless are on a waiting list for subsidized housing.
  • Vets make up 15% of the homeless population.
  • The number of homeless senior citizens has doubled in the last three years.
  • The homeless population in women’s shelters has doubled in the last seven years.

What has to happen before people get as upset about homelessness as they do not being allowed to drink in a park?

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If you have ‘Peace’, you simply haven’t yet seen the thing that’s trying to [Jul. 24th, 2013|04:32 pm]

Let me tell you about Star Control II.


Star Control II is the best game. Like, actually the best game. If you’ve played it, you know how good it is. If you haven’t, don’t take it from me. There’s no shortage of publications who agree with me on this one.


Star Control II is the best game ever made. Not the best classic game, not the best sci-fi game. Not even the best PC game. The best game. Ever. This is the kind of addicting game that invokes euphoria and will leave a great hole in your life after you’ve won. You’ll wet your pants in anticipation to play this game after you’ve had a taste of it. For those of you who have played the game and do not agree with these statements, I feel genuine sorrow for all three of you.

Gamer Theory:

Star Control II was easily the best open world game of its time. It’s really rare, even today, to find a game that offers the same level of freedom, non-linear progression, and sense of scale that Star Control II has.


Simply put, Star Control II had everything. It was challenging, rewarding, open-ended, fun, and highly replayable. It’s a genuine classic that’s still unsurpassed, and it’s so original that it hasn’t even been imitated. And even though the game is more than 10 years old now, it still holds up extremely well, and most of today’s sci-fi-themed games can’t hold a candle to it. From playing Star Control II, you clearly get the impression that the game was a labor of love. Yet it’s just as evidently a work of incredible talent and creativity.

Star Control II is easily one of my all-time favorite computer games, and one of those games that makes me feel privileged having played it–I felt like I’d dug up a chest full of gold doubloons when I discovered that game, it was so unbelievably good. It’s just an amazing work of fiction, not to mention a really fun game. Long after I’d finished the campaign several times, my friends and I would still play the super melee mode for hours and hours. I never would have imagined that my favorite shooter and my favorite RPG of the era would be part of the same game.

There aren’t any other games like Star Control II. The only other game that compares in the slightest with SC2 in ambition and scope is Mass Effect, and while the resemblance isn’t coincidental, SC2′s open-world and non-linear gameplay is on another level. And it was made over twenty years ago.

In 2002, Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III’s company Toys for Bob released a partial source port of Star Control II under an open license, and over the next ten(!) years the fan community worked to transform it into a near-perfect port that is downloadable and playable on modern systems. (There’s also a great-looking fan effort to remake the game in HD that I’ll be downloading once I get home. If you start downloading it now, it’ll probably be done by the time you’re finished reading this!)

There was a sequel produced in 1996, but the creators (Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III) weren’t involved and its existence is generally ignored by most SC2 fans. For years, Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III have talked about how much they’d love to make a proper SC3, but they couldn’t get the trademark rights from Accolade.

Fans have been checking in with Toys for Bob every few years, but it didn’t look like there was ever going to be another Star Control.


Stardock Entertainment has acquired the rights to the Star Control franchise in the ongoing sell-off resulting from Atari’s bankruptcy filing. Stardock, producer of the popular space strategy games Sins of a Solar Empire and Galactic Civilizations I & II, has announced that it intends to use the rights to produce a new Star Control game, reviving a series that hasn’t seen a proper sequel since 1996. According to a press release issued by Stardock, the company will begin work on the game “this year,” with a release date to be determined.

The Star Control series—and Star Control II in particular—is an enormously important part of the PC gaming canon. The games are the reincarnation and true successors of the earlier Starflight series, and most modern space adventure games take at least some of their gameplay and humor elements from them (including Mass Effect, which director Casey Hudson has directly attributed to Starflight). At first blush, the news of Stardock’s acquisition seems to be excellent for fans of space exploration games.

At first blush! But it’s complicated, and there are big problems:

First, the sale was for the Star Control 2 trademark, and not the intellectual property of the games themselves. Toys for Bob own SC2 (which is why they were allowed to release the source), and any new Star Control game made by Stardock would need to negotiate with Toys for Bob to use any of the alien races or plot points from SC2.

Second, Stardock CEO Brad Wardell is a total asshole. He has a history of sexual harassment, and when he was politely asked by one of his employees to stop touching her hair (seriously) and to not make sexist jokes in the office, he replied that her request

is not acceptable to me. I am an inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and embarrassing person and I’m not inclined to change my behavior. If this is a problem, you will need to find another job.


Third, Toys for Bob should be making this game. Stardock won’t get it right. EA couldn’t get it right. And it is for sure possible that even Toys for Bob wouldn’t get it right — but they’re the only ones who know what ‘right’ should look like.

SC2, more than almost any other game I’ve ever played, has a personality. The same way games like Portal, Thomas Was Alone, A Boy And His Blob, or Limbo have personalities. I wouldn’t want to see Portal 3 made by EA, or Limbo 2 made by Bioware. Those games were brought to life as labors of love, and no amount of homage or respect by third parties can be expected to do them justice.

In a perfect world, Stardock would make whatever game they wanted to make, and then gift a license to the trademark to Toys for Bob so that they could make the game they’ve wanted to make for the last twenty years.

Unfortunately, it isn’t a perfect world, and we’re likely going to have to live with another imperfect followup to a perfect game.

But (quite fortunately), Star Control 2 is still out there, free to play, for any of us to dive into and discover all over again.

I can’t wait.

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On a sparkling evening in July [Jul. 23rd, 2013|03:14 pm]
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+ Audra and I have been working together as Townhall Communications!
+ I’m also working on a redesign of a major staffing firm website.
- I have not been working very much on my own projects.
- This is in part because my apartment flooded.
+ But it’s fine now!
± I have been making a proper budget again instead of being rich for a week and then broke for a week every time I get paid.
- This means I am not rich twice a month.
+ It also means I am not broke twice a month.
+ I am having friends over tonight to watch Godzilla movies.
+ I am hosting an event at the Academy of the Impossible next month about music in a post-scarcity world!
+ There are a lot more plus signs than there are minus signs in this update.

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lifetime fan rapport [Jun. 22nd, 2013|03:48 pm]

I could write a dozen different pieces about The Album That Changed My Life and each would be different, each would be a perfect cross-section of who I was, where I was, and how everything changed. Coil. Front Line Assembly. NWA. Tori Amos. The KLF. Haujobb.

This is about Fixed, by Nine Inch Nails.

I was young. Fourteen? I had a copy of Pretty Hate Machine, the Head Like A Hole single, Broken, and Sin. I loved Broken. It had all of the tearing guitar aggression of The Offspring’s Smash but with a kind of obsessive nihlist production that I had never heard anywhere else.

I remember borrowing Broken from a friend. Picking it up at her house. I remember her roommate’s performative dismissal when she learned what I was borrowing. “Nine Inch Nails? They’re shit now. Past their prime.” It was 1994.

When I heard about Fixed, I thought it would be like the Sin single. Or Head Like A Hole. A few clubby remixes, a few quiet remixes, maybe an extra track.

It wasn’t like that. It wasn’t like anything I had ever heard.

The remixers on Fixed include:

  • Butch Vig (Garbage)
  • J. G. Thirlwell (Foetus, frequent collaborator of Lydia Lunch and Marc Almond, currently the composer for The Venture Bros)
  • Bob Flanagan (Subject of the documentary “SICK: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist”)
  • Peter Christopherson (Co-founder of Industrial Records, Psychic TV, and Coil)

I had heard albums before that changed the way I thought about music. Albums with sounds on it that I didn’t know it was possible to make. Songs about the personal, the occult, and the psychotic. What I hadn’t heard before was an album where I wasn’t sure that it was music at all. Vocals chopped up and syllables rearranged into a violent glossalia. Songs suddenly crashing in on themselves, reduced to a half-second of guitars and drums looping absurdly on a stuck needle you can’t reach. Walls of noise cutting out to cheery commercials and back in again before you’re sure what it is that’s happening.

I didn’t listen to anything else for at least four months. Likely longer. I played that tape until all of its sharpness was lost and my walkman had been closed so long the rubber seal had started to fuse.

From that album I discovered Coil. Foetus. Industrial Records. Can. Cabaret Voltaire. Swans. William Burroughs. JG Ballard. Godflesh. NEU!. Neubauten. Test Dept. Gary Numan. Ministry. Stockhausen. Killing Joke. Brian Eno.


Years later, Trent Reznor took some time between winning a Grammy and winning an Oscar to personally say “fuck you” on my Facebook after I said I missed the old Nine Inch Nails sound.

There’s no substitute for that kind of lifetime fan rapport, friends.

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In which our hero misses his train home [May. 1st, 2013|10:42 pm]
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I am very tired.

I’m also in Ottawa! I came down Saturday for the Ottawa Industrial League festival, and stayed a few extra days so that I could DJ at my old industrial night. The festival was a blast. I got to play live with good friends, and I got to see a ton of new talent perform. Two of the acts had never played live before. And they were great! My first show was a disaster.

DJing last night was even more fun than the OIL festival. A ton of people came out to see me play that I haven’t seen in forever. People who haven’t been to Zaphods in years. Years! I played a ton of new music, and somehow also a ton of old music. Is there anything I enjoy doing as much as DJing?

It’s actually quite emotional to go back and be the guest DJ in a place you spun weekly at for close to ten years, which I’m sure is surprising to no one but me. The place seems nicer. When I saw my old book of CDs — my book! — it seemed so surreal that I didn’t live there anymore, that I left all my music behind, that I wasn’t there every week. It wasn’t an “oh my god what have I done” moment; it was more like looking at home movies and thinking it’s so insane that you used to be seven years old and lived in that house and now you’re a grownup with grey beard hairs who has to file taxes and consider intersectionality and whatever else grownups do.

I miss Zaphods a lot. I miss the venue and the community and the everything. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a music community like that again. Probably not, right? It took almost ten years to build that one, even if you ignore everything I did before I started DJing there. If I started a weekly night tomorrow I’d be forty-five before I’d have ten years of history behind me. And the idea of starting a new weekly night in Toronto that lasts ten years is hilarious.

I miss Toronto too. I miss my house, and Josh, and Audra, and Blinky and Mothra, and the Jamaican woman who sells me my beef patties and everything else. I should be home right now, in fact. Except I ended up trapped in Orleans and wasn’t able to make my train home. So now it’s the 1 AM greyhound for me, which completely fucks everything up because there was a ton of work I wanted to get done on the train before I ran out of steam. And I’ve got Things To Do tomorrow from 10 AM onwards, including a job interview that I am going to be wiped for. Not to mention buying the extra ticket wipes out all the cash I made from selling merch, which is depressing. The only saving grace of the whole fiasco is that a May Day protest rolled past the bus station when I was buying my ticket, and I got to spend the next couple hours marching and chanting with young punks and old commies.

Aside from missing my train, which has resulted in me being that weird guy in a sports bar wearing nail polish and writing journal entries at midnight, it was a fantastic trip.

I’m looking forward to coming home.

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Badass of the Month: Martyl and the Doomsday Clock [Apr. 8th, 2013|03:06 am]
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The Doomsday Clock first appeared in the June 1947 issue of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a newsletter-turned-journal for the discussion of science and policy related to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The Bulletin included this statement on the inside of the back cover:

When the bomb fell on Hiroshima, it broke a six-year silence which security imposed on the atomic scientists. It also shattered the scientists’ “ivory tower” of detachment from the social and political implications of their discoveries. For the scientists — who had six years to consider the implications of atomic warfare before these implications exploded on a stunned world — recognized that they had a responsibility to see that this force would be used for the benefit and not the destruction of mankind.

One of the greatest works in all of information design, The Doomsday Clock was a brutally visceral symbol of how the world was now (and possibly forever) near to nuclear war. With the hour hand near midnight and the minute hand only seven minutes away, the clock cut through all the rhetoric and hyperbole of nuclear politics with a clear and clinical measurement: This is where we are. This is how close we are to the end of everything. We are seven minutes away.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Cover, June 1947

Two years later, the clock moved forward four minutes after the Soviet Union successfully tested a nuclear weapon. Three minutes to midnight.

We do not advise Americans that doomsday is near and that they can expect atomic bombs to start falling on their heads a month or a year from now; but we think they have reason to be deeply alarmed and to be prepared for grave decisions.

The designer of The Doomsday Clock was Martyl Langsdorf, an accomplished visual artist with a fondness for landscapes. Known to the art world by her first name, by the age of 25 Martyl had sold a painting to George Gershwin at a private showing, painted a now-iconic New Deal mural of African American history, and beat classmate Tennessee Williams in a playwriting contest.

Martyl Langsdorf

Her husband Alexander was a nuclear physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project only a few years earlier. They once took a train through Japan that stopped in Hiroshima, to allow all the passengers to step off the train and spend a moment at the Peace Memorial. He stayed in his seat, crying.

Road Ink, Martyl

The Langsdorfs bought a landmark Paul Schweikher home in 1953 and never moved out, drawing the constant attention of the CIA, FBI, and State Department through their activism for peace.

Martyl died March 26th. She was 96 years old.

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Flash and Thunder [Apr. 1st, 2013|08:41 pm]
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I don’t know exactly where the line is between history and experience, between something that happened and something that’s still happening. Is an explosion still happening while the shockwave is racing towards a building? While you can still hear echoes of it across a river? Is it still happening when you’re dreaming of it, years later? When all you can hear on a still night is the ringing in your ears that you’ve heard since the first flash and thunder?

I think a lot about family. I struggle with it. I struggle with the challenges that family has left me, with sacrifices family have made for me, with the hole in my experience where family should have been. I live with Josh, my brother, who I grew up with. We lived together for eleven or twelve years as kids, and now again for the last two. It’s comfortable. It’s friendly and loving. It has all the things that you should have in a home.

I’ve never lived with my father (not for any meaningful value of ‘living’, at least), but he was always there in one way or another. He was the reason we would be followed home, or why we had to move, or why some of us had so much more than others. When we spent time in the same space, we would inevitably end up at a nightclub, at a recording studio. The music was always loud, painfully loud. I’d yell and ask him to turn it down, my hands over my ears. I could never hear myself yelling. He would never turn it down.

Part of me remembers him telling me to toughen up, to not be such a baby; those memories are cloudy and suspect, just as likely to be a projection of what I assume he’d say as they are to be a recalling of fact. When we would leave the studio and step into the street, everything was bright, muffled, and far away, my skull stuffed with cotton and sawdust.

No matter how hard we try, we’re all defined in some way by him. From my own hypervigilance to my brother Oliver getting locked up at Fenbrook. (It’s his birthday today. He’s 28.)

And now we all try to figure out our own damages, try to find answers where we know there aren’t any. A kind of ritual therapy for blood relatives.

No matter how many years and miles separate me from the boy stepping into the street with a head full of dust, on a still night all I can hear is ringing.

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I am not good at following advice [Mar. 17th, 2013|10:45 pm]
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I’ve been thinking a lot about Other Jairuses. (Other Jairii?) If I had made different choices, focused my energy on different things. What would I be doing now. What would I be good at.

Eight years ago I was trying to decide where I should put my creative efforts. In design and visual art, which I had done professionally off and on — In writing and storytelling, where I felt very confident and capable — or in music, where I had been DJing for a while but I had no idea if I had any of the necessary skills to put together a song that anyone might want to listen to.

I asked a lot of people which they thought I should focus on, and almost everyone said writing. It was my ‘strength’. A few people said design. No one said music.

Eight years later and I have a couple of releases out, I’ve done a lot of touring, and I am for sure Jairus The Electronic Musician to a lot more people than I am Jairus The DJ. I haven’t been writing regularly or doing any design that isn’t paid work. I didn’t realize it while it was happening, but I traded those outlets in to make music.

One of the things that happens when you don’t do something for eight years is you stop being really good at it. Or you stop being good at it on demand, at least. I can still write things that I feel good about, but that’s the exception rather than the rule, and oh my god is there anything less interesting than someone writing about how challenging they think writing is.

Eight years later and I feel the hole left in me where I used to tell stories. Eight years later and I remember how good it felt to be up late creating something beautiful in photoshop that wasn’t for anyone but me. Eight years later and I’m not a writer, or an artist, or even really a DJ anymore.

Eight years from now, what I am going to wish I had spent more time doing? What am I going to wish I had gotten better at? What art am I going to wish I felt comfortable making?

That’s what I need to work on today.

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#MP3Tribute [Mar. 13th, 2013|12:10 am]

I think Aaron Swartz’s death hit us all differently. I felt like we weren’t just dealing with the loss of an incredibly talented and driven mind, but also with having our collective future robbed of all of the things Aaron had yet to do. People wouldn’t have the same access to music that they do today if it wasn’t for Aaron, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunities that I’ve had as an artist if it wasn’t for Aaron. I want to celebrate what he’s given us.

I’m asking artists to join me in making 100 albums free to download in Aaron’s memory.

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Things I Have Been Enjoying Lately, Third in a Series [Jan. 9th, 2013|02:27 am]
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Front Line Assembly – AirMech

FLA - Airmech

Front Line Assembly changed my life.

They were the first industrial band I ever heard, way back when a friend gave me a tape of Tactical Neural Implant in 92. I remember putting it in my walkman, hitting play, and listening to Final Impact completely stunned. I had been listening to Guns N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin, and N.W.A — nothing that prepared me at all for what I was hearing. I didn’t know music like that existed. I didn’t even know it was possible to make those kinds of sounds. The same friend clued me in to Delerium, Noise Unit, Intermix, and the rest of the FLA side projects. (Synaesthesia has always been my favourite of those, and their Ephemeral record is one of my desert island disks.)

Tactical Neural Implant was twenty years ago, and FLA’s still releasing albums. They’ve got new blood in the band, and whatever combination of people and equipment it took to make AirMech should probably be flash-frozen and preserved for future generations.

Fair warning: AirMech is completely instrumental. It’s also a video game soundtrack, and not a club record. And, like a lot of FLA records before it, the production is heavily influenced by whatever was blowing up in electronic music when they made it (which in this case is dubstep, so get your haterade ready).

The thing that makes this album amazing isn’t the wubs or the lack of vocals. This album is great because the diversity in the production spans very nearly the entire FLA discography. There are sequences that sound like they could have been taken off of Tactical Neural Implant, next to parts that could have come from lost Delerium or Synaesthesia tapes. There are elements of it that are unmistakably modern, and without any vocals in the mix the electronics shine in a way they aren’t often allowed to.

I don’t know if I’d say that this is FLA’s best record since the classics — I think Artificial Soldier is as good as anything else that got released after Millennium, and it’s hard to compare a heavy club record to a soundtrack — but I’ve been listening to it more than I’ve listened to any other FLA record since the 90s, and I’m not putting it down anytime soon.

If you were ever a fan of FLA’s less aggro material, you should listen to Airmech.

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Yukon Ho! [Sep. 3rd, 2012|09:33 pm]
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When I was ten or eleven years old, I had a Pennysaver paper route. It was the worst thing. Every Sunday morning they drop off a bundle of papers (98 in my case) and a dozen bundles of advertisements. So you open up all the bundles and separate out all the different advertisements. Then you open up a newspaper and put one of each of the dozen different flyers inside of it. Stick the finished newspaper in your little newspaper cart, and repeat 97 times. I actually cannot even begin to describe how miserable this is. It takes hours, and there’s a crazy amount of paper strewn everywhere and it is a total disaster zone from start until finish.

It was through this weekly process that I first learned to recognize the emotion we call ‘dread’.

After you’ve got your little newspaper dolly full of the freshly-stuffed papers, you wander around the neighbourhood and drop them off in people’s mailboxes, often while people inside yell at you about how they don’t want more junk mail. Because who does, right? Also, the dolly doesn’t fit 98 stuffed newspapers, which means that you need to go back home in the middle of your route at least once to re-up. Eventually you deliver all 98 newspapers to all 98 homes, you get back home hopefully before the sun sets, and you phone them to let them know that it’s all finished.

This is all a lot of responsibility for someone in grade 5.

Once a month or so, we’d get these ‘specials’ where there’d be a full-on second newspaper to deliver along with the first. So you pack your cart with the stuffed newspapers and the special newspaper (which takes up twice as much cart space, which means you need to re-up twice as often) and try to jam both of these things in people’s mailboxes while they yell at you.

One snowy and grey Sunday morning, I opened my front door to get the papers and saw we had a ‘special’ that week: Phone books.

There was a hill I had to climb on my route, and I remember trying to drag my stupid cart full of soggy phone books through this thick wet snow, crying all the way. My hands were red and raw from trying to pull the cart, and completely numb from the cold. I ended up leaving the cart there and going back home to ask for help. My mother’s husband drove me out to the cart, picked up the phone books, and delivered them all himself — probably the nicest thing he ever did for me in the many years we lived together.

The worst part about all of this is that you make something like thirty cents per paper delivered. Not lucrative. After fees and whatever else, for a full day’s work I would get a cheque for twenty-odd dollars. (Years later, I worked as a delivery boy for the Citizen and got cheques ten times that amount for a route a fraction the size. This is how I learned about ‘exploitation’.)

But, at the time, twenty-odd dollars was a lot of money. And it was the first money I had ever earned myself. I took my first cheque across the street to the mall, cashed it in my TD Bank Junior Savings Account, and went to the bookstore where I bought the Calvin and Hobbes Yukon Ho! collection, mostly because I saw the title and thought it was cool that a comic might be about Canada.

Buying that book changed my life. I read every strip and bought every book after that. Calvin and Hobbes is a fucking subversive comic, man. Sexism, racism, environmentalism, war, death, friendship, bullying, love, an existential crisis, labour issues — they were all in those books. Before I learned about any of that stuff from Asimov or Aristotle or anywhere else, I learned it from Calvin and Hobbes.

I got a Calvin and Hobbes tattoo when I turned 19 because I was terrified of not being a teenager anymore. I was so scared that I wouldn’t be as the same kind of person as I got older, and I wanted to leave a reminder to future-jairus that ‘growing up’ means whatever we want it to mean. And to leave myself something like a litmus test:

If, when I got old, I didn’t like Calvin and Hobbes anymore — then I was right to be afraid as a teenager, because it would mean I had become someone else entirely.

We’ll never have to clean a plate
Of veggie glops and goos.
Messily we’ll masticate
Using any fork we choose!

The timber wolves will be our friends.
We’ll stay up late and howl,
At the moon, till nighttime ends,
Before going on the prowl.

Oh, what a life! We cannot wait,
To be in that arctic land,
Where we’ll be masters of our fate,
And lead a life that’s grand!

No more of parental rules!
We’re heading for some snow!
Good riddance to those grown-up ghouls!
We’re leaving! Yukon Ho!

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