Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stranger Than Fiction: From the Chumps-Élysées to Congested Queen St. West

Today Garibaldi the horse turned against his prescribed occupation and bucked his respected driver at the Élysée Palace to run free of duty and captivity, but only for a brief tour de la Rue de Rivoli in Paris, France.

The only Purse at stake for Garibaldi was his life, but that is common place for him and other police steeds around the world.

One would not be mistaken to see these unsung heroes galloping the streets of heavily-populated and polluted downtown Toronto, alongside dangerous traffic and unpredictable crowds, and that's within a concrete jungle of heavy noise.

Horses are not even required in this line of work; cheaper technologies are available. Conservative folk out there would be very worried to know that such animals require costly vaccinations and living accommodations that can ultimately be avoided by instituting the use of a technology that has been popular and practical for centuries now: the bicycle.

Surely it would be easier to avoid animal rights groups altogether by not placing the horses in situations where neon reflective coats and eye blinds are necessitated, but sometimes life is stranger than fiction.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

2009, Where Is Your Music?

Today I shelved my editions of Fung Yu-Lan's A Short History of Chinese Philosophy and Wing-Tsit Chan's A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy in a bout of rejection against filial and traditional practice, restraint and lionization.

A familiar pastime to be included as one of my notorious procrastination routines, I sat myself in front of my laptop and sought out my bookmark for the Exclaim Magazine website, plotting to spend the next half hour lurking bands that were slated for upcoming album releases. I was hoping for something fresh that was wholesome, but that also retained what I call necessary contempt for modern maxims. Call me elitist, but without that loathing, music just feels empty and phlegmatic to me - like ignorant bliss.

Exclaim Magazine is a good place to go if you're harbouring a canker of time-killing indulgence in your cheek; its lists of new music releases seem limitless.

However, I scrolled through this list, searching about every other artist I'd never investigated on myspace with hopes of getting a taste of the sound they'd be making available on their respected release dates, and I found little I could appreciate. I found a lot of contempt, but where I did, it was like there was too much.

I felt old and jaded and all I wanted was for somebody to put a record on and leave me to some kind of eternal rocking chair where the soundtrack provided could soothe my deep wrinkles with sweet rhetoric and cunning attitude.

All that said, I did manage to stumble upon a fun little oldie.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Oh Mr. Scarecrow, just look at you,
Stuck on your stick, with nothing to do
Blessed with only one power which you must yield:
You must protect the harvest, you must keep the field.
Eying the crops within your peripheral view:
Don’t be surprised if sometimes your vision splits into two

Mr. Farmer created you in his visage.
Don’t let him down, you must pay homage.
Mr. Farmer won’t feed wild, no matter what the age;
It costs too much to feed what’s out of his cage.
With your stitched on smile and tattered old clothes,
Do your only job and scare off those vermin, scare off those crows.

The crows, they know better, they know
What you’re for;
So they spend all day destroying you more.
These tar coloured birds, pecking all day,
Piece by piece they’re removing the hay.

Oh Mr. Scarecrow, just look at you,
Stuck on your stick, with nothing to do
And still you hang, way up on your cross
You don’t mind you’re dead now, it’s all for the crops

Today you’ve done well, yes, certainly earned your pay;
So the farmer stuffs your holes with some fresh, farm-grown hay.
Next morning will come with another day:
Another day of torture, another day of decay.

You know Mr. Farmer, he made it this way:
But for every day that you die, there’s another to say,

I’ve stood here, young crops, long day after day,
All as a sacrifice for your simple way.
You can’t possibly fathom what I have to do,
Lose a bet everyday just to look after you
To let you grow tall and sway as the wind has you go,
I’m pinned up here; the burden of pain mine to know.

Then a day comes, with a new story to tell;
You look North, South and East, but every follower’s fell.
That monster, Mr. Farmer, he’s gone off to sell
Your devote little nation to downtown marketing hell.

Without your clone army, you feel empty and poor,
But can’t help notice the sprinkling of the compost floor
Seeds for the next batch, maybe one without a victim
This time you might do right, maybe this time you’ll teach them.

If they know of their demise this might make them feel sad,
But perhaps it will help them enjoy all the dead ever had.

Here’s your new culture to which you can preach,
You are the farmland closer whose only job is to teach.
Yes, every day you will die and Mr. Farmer will win,
But at least you reap the benefits for the time that you’re in.

Oh Mr. Scarecrow, I wish you could know:
The problem with the field is you reap what you sow.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ivory Tower Disease (White Plague)

Fastened to a plain that limits their perception
They’re the ones that seek to rise up off the ground
Always seeming to find perfection in every cloud
They are building higher just to see what goes on below

Trying to create a cleaner theater
Housing solitary audiences
To unsuspecting actors
Spectators becoming skeptic fools so easily
Persuaded by simplicity: calming space and ‘purity.’
Minimalist divinity is a mystic’s faith in less distraction.

Oh, to be high and ever so hollow.
These are the isolated ones–
Mute and troubled.

A raided room is a segregate tomb–
That is where they feed the wound:
A surrogate womb.

They shut the doors
And raped the locks.
Their blank walls stare.
Their tables talk.

Still up there the pictures
Tend to speak a thousand words
But there they’re always
Monochrome and monotone.

Towers tall escape commotion
Where it’s hard to see

Thursday, February 12, 2009


The extent of my hypocrisy in relation to the McDonald's Corporation is that I occasionally let my friend B. sling me free…consumables when I pop in for visits before her shift is done. I say I let her because she's probably the most generous person anyone will ever meet, and I try not to abuse that; so really, I'm letting myself accept her benevolence. I can’t say food because I’m far too frightened to believe in that commercially conjured platform – mind-altering substance is a much better approximation, but it doesn’t make me any less ready to soil my pants.

I can justify this sort of theft with just about any kind of logic. Some vegetarians might stretch the boundaries of their dietary habits and ethical beliefs for this kind of falsified animal liberation, but it would be too easy to reference some carrot activist’s dogma in a way it was never meant to be cited and say something like “you corporate screwballs stole the life of a living thing, and now, yes, you have one less burger. This is retribution, you sad, sad sadistic people.” That said, I do feel bad for Mary Meatstick of moo-moo land – I just realize that time’s run out for her and that she’s already in the big proverbial valley in the sky, mowing down on all the cud her four stomachs can handle.

Plants have feelings too; it’s all just a matter of life feeding on life.

Now playing: Rise Against - 1000 Good Intentions


I have too many Fruit Cards because I always forget them when I go to the cafeteria. Fruit Cards are the wonderful genius of the cafeteria staff that is meant to motivate students to eat their fruits. If you buy an apple, you get a stamp. Apples cost about 39 cents, but if you buy ten of them, you get a free one. If I don’t have my card with me, they give me a new one.

This doesn’t mean much more than the fact that I’m going to have a build up of cards for a while because I would feel bad killing a twig’s-worth of tree to combine one or three cards with another.

Now playing: Ten Years After - I'd Love To Change The World

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Warp Speed through the Receding Colour

Riding a wave
Beyond the acetone wasteland
Exploding colours
In the infinite Crayola
I hear birds sing
And reach for my viola
Electric guitars
Flying over my head
The street corner jester
Said something, he said
Beat box the bass jazz
And boogaloo boogy
Jive to the beat
And give a mouse a cookie
Throw me a paint can
’Cause I can’t wait, man
Gonna colour your mind
Like a Yellow Submarineland
Spare me a quarter and
I’ll tell you more
I’ll be here all day
And there ain’t no door

Now playing: Beck - Nausea

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Shot 007 in the Figurehead Instead of Waiting for the Laser Beam to Do It

For Ian Fleming’s spy fiction, spying is a game, and the same one the spy author plays to establish success in the publishing industry and popularity on the shelves of his respective readers. James Bond supports the perpetuation of the British hegemony, a strategy practiced for the purpose of spreading his country’s ideology, the goal of the spy game. Just as 007 fights for British dominion in “Risico” by using his singular charm to deceive enemy affiliates, Fleming repeatedly uses Bond – a charming image of British influence – to bring on a surefire consumption by readers.

Cawelti and Rosenberg assess Fleming’s “villains” as “never interested in monetary gain or military victory” (42) further continuing, “they seek world domination and the power to make their own evil ideals prevail” (42). But that analysis emphasizes on antagonists and fails to recognize and distinguish 007’s organization, Mi6, as another figure that seeks world domination and the power to make their own ideals prevail, still mentioning, “The theme which shapes the hero’s mission and his confrontation with the enemy is the basic danger to a whole way of life threatened by another, malignant worldview” (42).

Just as there is elitism among game players, Fleming acknowledges the pleasure that one spy will experience when associating with spies at the same caliber of professionalism as himself. When Bond is sent to communicate with an informant, Signor Kristatos, Fleming writes: “two men sat back comfortably, each one satisfied that he had to do with a man in the same league. This was rare in ‘The Game’” (229). By including this impression of elitism, Fleming posits Bond in a realm of superior ability – lionizing his nature and making him appear more fascinating and spectacular than any spy may really be. That image of 007 representing the British power, Bond’s charisma draws readers into accepting the British influence, allowing Ian Fleming to collect more readers.

Like in a game, one player’s defense in the spy world can be manipulated into vulnerability by a seemingly trustworthy and crafty spy. This can be applied to the “villains” Bond encounters and Bond himself, and the effect is a grey area that Cawelti and Rosenberg miss when evaluating James Bond as a hero. Neither party is innocent, and both are working towards a goal of dominating the whole world in the same – to use Cawelti and Rosenberg’s terms – “malignant” way a player does in a world domination-inspired board game. Fleming also implements a “race against the clock” element to “Risico,” placing Bond in a situation where one game player can be “found out” as a spy, and thus useless as a means to perpetuating his home team’s ideology: “There was so often […] a faint smell of burning in the air at such a rendezvous […] the fringe of his cover had already started to smoulder. In due course the smouldering fabric would burst into flames [and then] the game would be up” (229). Espionage-inspired deceit coupled with a race to beat the clock, Ian Fleming’s spy story “Risico” provides a narrative of a very sensational game that becomes interesting to follow. Winning the game depends on the strength of one’s influence and the mettle of one’s cover, but the mettle cannot aid the virtue of a spy.

The spy author aims to earn respect as a successful writer, which means coercing public readership upon his/her works. Utilizing 007 as a poster boy for spying and the British power is only one of the lures used by Ian Fleming to attract readers. Fleming seeks to achieve this in a number of ways: maintaining formula, implementing sensational situations (i.e. Bond’s capture by Colombo, the chase scene that led to it, etc.) or plot twists, offering an educated mind for readers to pick at on every page of his writing, falling back on an episodic series, etc. Fleming fulfills the capitalist goal of attracting and maintaining readers’ interest by repeatedly wielding Bond as a desirable protagonist bachelor for the British power in adventure tales of espionage, making his readers want to know more about this International Man of Mystery, forcing them to come back.

Just because Bond is repeatedly used as a British spy protagonist in many of Fleming’s espionage tales, his singular character does not define the word “hero.” In games, heroes come from all sides of the board. They fight for their (singular) values, seeking to normalize their power and influence on the entire playing field. When all players lie and disguise themselves, a grey fog consumes the playing field and no figurehead is distinguishable as inherently good, and ideologies are approached in a way that is enacted by malignant singular prejudice. Fleming as an author cannot be excused for his episodic use and glorification of the suave and singular Bond simply because of his occupation: a bourgeois author’s laissez-faire attitude will never result in literary progress for the interpellated proletariat reader.

Works Cited:

Cawelti, John G. and Rosenberg, Bruce A., “The Spy Story’s Story: A Brief History,” The Spy Story. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. 34-54.

Fleming, Ian, “Risico,” The Oxford Book of Spy Stories. Ed. Michael Cox. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. 228-256.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

3 Cups, 1 Bag.

Having just satisfied a violent hunger for a tea fix just moments before, I am euphoric. My second year university student housing bedroom sits before me like an ocean of my interests, a model for constant change: the effects of Time and erosion on my barren carpet shoreline, the rocky tundra bed that was being eaten away at by this ticking semester of late night study snacks under covers, ruthless reminders of my short time here.

The blank spaces on the walls make it seem so vast and fertile while the course syllabi for my classes demand a sense of limitation and confinement at the same time.

It’s night, and my reading light is on, so I have the curtain closed. It’s 2:17 AM, and apparently I’m nervous about peeping tom neighbours. I recognize this foolishness at once, and take two steps across the room, lean across my bed, and pull my curtain up for the view. My room faces the side of my next-door neighbours’ house, which to my dismay includes two windows that face my own, and less distressingly, a basketball hoop with fresh February icicles hanging from its rim. Hence my having the curtain down in the first place. But it’s late enough that that doesn’t matter. Who cares who sees anything anyway? Who would even want to watch? I can’t help but feel I’m giving myself too much credit.

I am completely, utterly distracted from the hundred pages of reading I have to do before the morning sunlight cracks the sky and when I will have to ready myself for a bus to my 8:30 class (Chinese Philosophy, with Professor Dorter).

Funny thing how any acknowledgment of distraction can lead you back to your reality in almost any instance. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

Back to Middlemarch. Joy.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Natural Disaster

The big fish eat the little ones,
Swimming around,
They bathe in the shallow, blood-ruby sun of Los Angeles
A lonely place for the actors and actresses: silicone starlets
Consumed by that sun.
Burning hills, the plastic lava-flow of fiery avalanches
Where unprepared thespians
Are building their homes
Too close to nature, too close to alone,
Too close to perfect,
Always too close
With too much money to burn,
They’re always burning under
That bloody red sun.

With expensive explosions to hide all the lies
The insecure idols burn all their ties

I’d like to direct a new feature film:
One where the actors and actresses learn
That expensive wardrobes and luxury cars,
Dressing room curtains and makeup residue,
Self-indulgence and high-profile lives
Make excellent kindling to burn all their lies.
I’ve found incentive to let it all burn.

A natural disaster in the fake plastic hills:
A pure cinematic and visceral experience
And all of the actors keep popping their pills
We won’t do anything, we’ll just watch it burn
They’ll spark it themselves; they’ll just have to learn –
Maybe they’ll learn but I’m not so sure:
I’m sure their insurance will give bliss through sweet settlement…

Come buy your ticket
And take this ride
Join in this tour bus of voyeur passivity
Watch the sun collide
Watch the hills burn, yeah,
We’ll watch from the side.
I don’t care if the sun burns it all,
I think its time that Hollywood falls
So stoke up an avalanche that slides into the Pacific.

Watch it burn,
Watch it burn.
Let it slide,
Watch it burn.
“Learn to swim.”

I don’t feel guilty,
I just feel prepared. Without a Blackberry,
A Lexus, or Rolex,
Without a Gucci handbag to hold things in tact
Or an agent
To do my job for me
I feel more ready than ever before
So let the rapture begin, leave bright stars
In the dark.

Now playing: tool - Ænema