Existential crises are a bitch.

I’m now in a position in my life that I never thought I’d find myself in. I have to find a new definition of myself and nothing seems to be forthcoming. Everything has changed for what appears to be the worst and I have discovered that I am not as resilient as I thought I was. There was no real precedent set for any of this within my personal experience. I have no guidepost, no compass, no bearing whatsoever. On top of it all, I am also dealing with the fallout of not addressing my mental health issues to the point where this bump in the road has caused them to emerge with a vengeance. My mind is intent on devouring itself, it seems, and I am just barely keeping it at bay.

So what to do now? I’ve wasted a tremendous amount of time and energy on solving the one problem in all this that has no hope of being resolved. I need to refocus that energy into determining what exactly I’m for, other than a father. There have been hints and glimpses of a direction to go in but there are significant hurdles to overcome in every direction.

One thing that I don’t know at the moment is if anything about the illness I’m struggling with has anything to do with my tendency to obsess over a thing or idea to a detrimental extent. It was pointed out to me years ago that I would be obsessed and focused on one or two things at a time, talking and thinking about them constantly, only to have all that energy refocused on entirely different things a week or two later. It’s true, I tend to get engaged in something and let myself be consumed by it until the next thing comes along. I think that’s why I have so many half started hobbies and projects. I cannot seem to focus on any one thing long enough to bring it to fruition. Now, though, I am stuck with very little ability to pursue any sort of interest so my mind is stuck on the one problem. It eats away at me constantly. There is no acceptable solution to my fractured psyche and thus it churns away endlessly. For whatever reason I cannot fathom a no win scenario in this matter, even though I have been informed that it is so. So the tires are spinning in my head and there is no traction to be had anywhere.

Distraction is the thing.

I have begun to find ways to busy myself with things that allow me to somewhat enter a flow state. At least enough to occupy me and keep me grounded in the task at hand. It wasn’t possible for me a few weeks ago but slowly I am learning to give myself over to it. There is a sliver of solace and peace in mindless activity. If I think about this for long enough, my mind has started to pick out other things to occupy itself. New ideas and old for keeping myself present. To keep myself in the moment.

Me from even three months ago wouldn’t have believed I’d be talking this way now.

Even writing this at this very moment has had a marked change in the landscape of my mind. I can still feel the engines of destruction running but they are somewhat kept at bay for the present.

The time has come for change. For forgetting. For learning. For reinventing.

I just hope it’s for the better.

I just hope it sticks.

Little orange bottles of pills. Just enough to get you through the next 25 days. Not enough to do harm. Not enough to really work. There is nothing but the middle ground now. You exist within a bubble universe wrapped in the real. Nothing gets out. Nothing gets in. The middle ground. Nothing more. Nothing less.


I went down to Block 1912 tonight, much as I have many other nights lately. My life has become a sequence of one act plays and all of them are trite and tired. I sit in a cafe, nursing a cappuccino and writing in my notebook, a ghost of someone who would have existed a long time ago in a very different place. I took no notice of those around me, nor them of I. Scribbled down fractured thoughts and incoherent ramblings. Cast a searchlight along the jagged cliffs of my mind. That ridiculous scribbler becoming a record of my inability to think clearly or take control.

Mug of cliche finished, scribblings completed, I put on my coat and backpack and walked into the Saturday night of Whyte Avenue. No destination in mind, just walking and stopping occasionally to light a cigarette. Taking solace in my foolish notions of being a sympathetic character in a Tom Waits song. Only that descriptor is three letters too long. I plod my way past all manner of people out with purpose, with others, with minds muddied not by illness or medication or bad thoughts but with drink and companionship. There are few things I wouldn’t give to have somewhere to go at that moment.


There is very little left to find of myself. That who I was has been revealed as a fraud. So much of what I thought was personality just a trick of the light. The very nature of what defines me being thrown to the ground, tied to a chair with a single bright light pointed at it. I am forced to be interrogated by myself. I don’t know who to feel more sorry for, the me that is doing the asking or the me that gets its kneecaps busted with a ball-peen hammer for being a smart ass. Maybe I’m not trapped in here with me, I’m trapped in here with myself. I don’t know what really makes sense anymore but I have no choice other than to make sense of it all. Therein lies the absolute crux of my dichotomy, my need to address my own concerns and the selfishness I feel at taking the time to do so. I feel the weight of my responsibilities every day that I see myself as failing them, which is every single day at this point. My duty to my family, my children, my insane need to feel like a “productive member of society” is all knocking on the door and I sit with my back to it, unable to turn and face them.


What is left to say? Much more, I believe. The words come in spurts, little ingots of inspiration being worked to the surface by the tectonic activity of my unwell mind. Parts of me reject these words, doesn’t want to post. I am apparently ignoring that part. These words masquerade as something productive to me. Maybe this is enough to feel like I’m doing something, to give me the drive to do more. Either way, I doubt this is anything more than screaming into the void. Let our voices be heard by no one or everyone. It matters little which…

Near Fantastica

Here we are, on the rickety edge…

These pink pills are not for my sanity, they’re for the sanity of others. They are intended to keep me even enough for someone to go rooting through my noggin in an attempt to help me put the pieces back together. A candy coated form of control. I’ll make myself better, stronger, faster. All for the sake of others. To allow everyone to continue on with that wonderful sense of everything being okay, the sun shining. How can one be reasonable in unreasonable times? Why is it that our passions must be contained, managed? Sometimes the angels on our shoulders are just demons that couldn’t make the cut.

I’ve been much much better than this. I doubt I have ever been, nor will ever be, worse. The specters of my un-reconciled memory banks have finally been released, like Walter Peck shutting down the Ghostbusters power grid. These spirits and skeletons are free to wander the metropolis of my psyche and have begun to hijack the considerable processing power within to attempt to drill their way out. They are clever little beasts, they wear any number of masks required to draw out more and more control. Despite the best of intentions and efforts by many, I fear this may be a losing battle. The control tower was undermanned. Decimated by both general and very specific attacks. Back to the Ghostbusters metaphor, Ecto-1 is in the shop, Ray and Venkmann are on vacation and Stay Puft is left to his own devices. No gatekeeper nor key master required. Hush now, little puppy, your work here is done.


The melodies are the same. The words also consistent. The lack is in their meaning, the positive power they had. All the soothing balm they had has been stripped away, leaving raw memory in its place. We can’t hear the tunes anymore, the cadence and the rhythm and the lyrical beauty is fuzzy and indistinct. There are no more songs left to sing, no riffs left to play. The instruments may be laid to rest, to gather dust and diminish in memory. Let us speak of these things no more…


I apologize for the extremely negative and catastrophic nature of the words contained herein. The sun does shine at times, but we force ourselves to wear these blinders.

Goodnight and good luck.

Near Fantastica

A Few Things On A Friday Morning…

Good Morning.

I’m working through a cup of my back coffee since I ran out of my beloved Sucker Punch (from local roasters Catfish Coffee) so I’m typing to keep my mind off of it. Just going to link a few interesting things I’ve come across lately.


First off, the new video from Extra Credits really caught my attention…

I’ve been playing a whole bunch of The Division with a couple pals online lately. We’ve enjoyed the mechanics, especially in the Dark Zone, and I’ve enjoyed it as an alternative to Destiny which I haven’t touched in a couple months. The game isn’t perfect by any means and I don’t know exactly how long it will keep our attention since Overwatch is going to be grabbing some attention soon. I personally do not understand the absolute vitriol that some are lobbing at it recently and in particular the new patch that added some new content but I guess I’m not one who can  spend twelve hours a day playing nothing but The Division and so cannot summon enough impotent disgust to bitch about a video game.

The video, though, examines the game from a much different angle that I honestly did not even really perceive until this morning. Something interesting to ponder about games and what they can say about the world we live in. There is also something to be said about what they say to those who spend all their conscious time playing and none truly thinking about what they are playing.


A pretty interesting article popped up on AlterNet regarding the situation in Germany regarding the refugee crisis. I’ve had some pretty heated opinions about the crisis as it has touched Canada and lost respect for a good many friends and family over their opinions on it. We tend to be somewhat two-faced as a culture about what Globalization has meant about relations with other humans in that we love all the conveniences but will turn on those in need without a second thought if we think it might mean things will change even a little bit. Come to think of it, we do the same with those we perceive as different here at home…

Either way, I was heartened by the news I heard about Germany and their commitment to humanitarian aid and their openness to refugees. This sort of issue is just going to become more important as there are people in power who are only interested in advancing suffering and hatred instead of the species as a whole. These trials are something more and more of us will face and it will be interesting to see how the Germans handle the situation over the next year or so.


I have a hard time even speaking about our so called Democracy since the sheer ignorance displayed since our Provincial and Federal elections here up North. What is going on in our southern neighbour almost makes my issues with the system I live in seem quaint…almost. I had a link to a great op-ed piece on Salon but it seem to have gone dead. It was decrying this election as another step on a downward trajectory only made worse by the war on education and intellectualism in the country. I agreed with a whole lot of the points in it and it’s actually kind of pissing me off that I can’t find it now. Fuck.


That’s about it for now. It’s 7:45 AM and I have to go finish prepping the kids for school and such. I’ll hopefully make it through another workday and maybe be able to sit and type some more tonight. Have a great, thoughtful day, friends.

A Few Things On A Friday Morning…

Ranty, Fucking McRanterson…


I had this whole snarky, angry, ranty post almost finished that I had worked on both at home and during lunch breaks at work all ready to go. It wasn’t perfect and it was pretty scattered but I was kind of okay with it because it was me letting loose on a lot of things that are making me snarky, angry, and ranty these days. It railed against our broken partisan system of politics and the death of intellectualism and I felt very smug and proud while typing it. I swore a lot and didn’t worry about contradicting myself at all and I was all ready to push it live.

I obviously haven’t.

There are a lot of things in it I still want to say and I probably will post it in the near future, after having a chance to maybe fluff it up a bit.


Instead, I’ve gotten angrier about a few different things. And let’s just get thing out of the way first: I am an angry person. I have a tendency to flare up and rage over just about anything I see as an injustice or a slight against something I’m passionate about. I am also not sorry about this anger; this anger is a driving, inspiring type of anger. Being this angry about things challenges me to make changes in my mindset and the way I comport myself in the world for (what I think is) the better.

Here’s the video I watched tonight that really got me thinking, which then got me angry:

I’ve only recently discovered the vlogbrothers and this video just sharpened the focus on a couple things I’ve been trying to put together in my head lately.

My biggest problem is the fucking despicable backlash and out & out racism the entire refugee issue has engendered in Canada the last six months or so. What a fucking joke we have allowed ourselves to become where this has become a debate at all. We all love our fucking stereotype or perception as a kindly, peaceful, and giving nation when we can pat ourselves on the fucking back about it but when it comes down to it a whole lot of us take a fucking step back. Of course, that’s all ignoring the fact that our heritage is pretty much built on a foundation of the rape and theft of an indigenous population and their land but most of us seem happy to hand wave that away (something else I found myself woefully uninformed about and have been working to change.)

Any sort of hesitation about helping these people seems to come from two angles: terrorism coupled with thinly veiled racism or first world privilege that doesn’t believe that it has enough to give help. Either you want to lump a whole bunch of people you don’t understand into one group you can fear and hate or you act like an entitled shit (see previous about where exactly this sweet Canadian life you’ve “earned” came from.) Either way it’s a pretty shitty stance to take. I just can’t wrap my head around any of the negativity about helping these people, especially when I consider what I’d be feeling if the roles were reversed and I have Emily, Xander, and yet to arrive baby Chan to care for.

But hey, those are other people and other peoples children over there, right? Who the fuck cares, oil is at an all time low!

Oh and that brings me to some disturbing personal anecdotes I’ve heard lately from my own fucking backwater province with delusions of greatness. With the shaky economy and layoffs hitting a lot of places not only is there a whole lot more racism and finger pointing going on in these here parts but a whole lot of nose in the air bullshit. There seem to be a lot of people around that have lost lucrative jobs in the oil/gas sector who are ready to blame all and sundry for their misfortunes, including “immigrants and temporary foreign workers taking all the jobs”, and yet flat out refuse to take secure jobs in other industries or positions because they deem it below their station. These asshats are actually saying there is a limit to what they are willing to do to provide for their fucking families. To these people I just want to say a big FUCK YOU. I’m the fucking son of an immigrant who raised me to understand that when I have someone, anyone, looking to me for support I will do whatever is needed to provide that support.


It’s getting late. I wanted to get something out on this blog since I haven’t in fucking ages. And the video provided me with a bit of fuel and incentive to expel some bullshit from my brain. Don’t take any of this as a condemnation of any person, group, or place in particular. I’ve realised lately that what I am truly railing against is a whole lot of underlying tendencies of our culture as a whole and I can only affect small change through my own thoughts and actions and hopefully in raising my larvae to being smarter, more eloquent, freer thinking individuals than myself. That’s really my only concern and goal, that I somehow raise the kidlets to be something greater than myself.

Night kids…


Ranty, Fucking McRanterson…

Fumbling with some bullshit…

Three things are really dominating my brain-space right now (well, four but I don’t really feel like writing about work). I have this obsessive tendency and it regularly focuses my mind on a few things to an extreme, usually to the exclusion of a lot of other things that interest me.

The first is getting the kids into sports. I never played organized sports as a child, the closest thing being the typical Canadian tradition of road hockey whenever there are enough kids in the neighbourhood to set up a game. I was always more interested in music, reading, drawing and the like. Now, as an adult, it’s become more important than I thought it would to get Em and Xander out and being more active. We signed both of them up for Little League (baseball for Em and Tee Ball for Xander). Today was the last day of training camp/first practice of the season. It was strangely comfortable for me to be out there in the field with all the other parents. I don’t typically identify with other parents I come into contact with through school and whatnot but it’s definitely starting to feel more familiar. Both the kids have their team regalia now and the season starts in earnest tomorrow. It’s gonna be busy as all hell with games and practices five nights a week but I’m honestly looking forward to it. I even went so far as to go buy bats and a tee and all to work with the kids on their game in the yard. There’s a certain part of me that has always somewhat railed against the typical picture of parenting and all the typical things that go into it. I’ve slowly been easing into a nice medium though, being able to give the kids good experiences and tempering them with exposure to a more diverse range of worldviews inbetween.

My current video game obsession is The Witcher. I’ve flirted with the serious on and off for a couple years now, always somewhat intimidated by what I’ve read of their size and scope. This coming from a die hard Mass Effect fan but whatever. I made it through most of the first game and am currently giving the second a serious playthrough just now, even though I’ve owned it for about two years. All this is riding the wave of hype in anticipation of the third game which hits on the 19th. The main thing about the series that has really drawn me in is the setting. The world of the witcher is absolutely wonderful in the realm of fantasy, all the way back to the books by Andrezj Sapkowski the inspiration for the games. Dark and gritty, with an interesting mix of a modern scientific mindset with a high fantasy universe. It’s got its hooks in me pretty deep and I think it’ll do so even more if I throw an updated card in my ‘puter when I get the new game.

The third focus grabber for me right now is my renewed interest in philosophy, specifically Friedrich Nietzsche and Existentialism. I think I’ve written about it previously but I’m really getting deep into it now. Between reading, watching videos on YouTube (both lectures and shorter entertainment pieces like the amazing 8 Bit Philosophy series), and the podcasts/audiobooks it’s safe to say I’m spending roughly half of my waking hours with some sort of philosophical investigation running not far from the fore my mind. It’s really started to help me get a handle on the somewhat existential crisis I’ve been facing the last little while both just for my own piece of mind and towards bigger issues, like the fact that I have a daughter hitting her tweens soon (the grey hairs are coming, that’s for sure). It’s given me some focus and a better capacity to deal with the…angst? anger? sadness? that’s come into very sharp relief with things like my return to social media and how exactly I may be able to raise children that aren’t complete shits. There’s also been a light shone on just how little our culture values that sort of deep introspection now. The closest you ever come to any sort of discourse on any major philosophical issue in the majority these days is the shallow type of bullshit you find in slacktivism and faux political talk on facebook and the like. I even find it in the public library these days, it saddens me to no end that the philosophy section has roughly twelve books at my local branch but the sections on religiosity and so called “self-help” fill stacks. Even the upper class and bourgeois types have flipped in the culture, it used to be that the upper class would assemble in places of learning and discussion (even if they may not exactly have know what was been said, they were there) and now we look up to the upper class for tips on how best to dress when being ignorant and useless. I’m firmly of the mind that if we really want to see progress as a society and a broadening of the social discussion and towards the solution of many of the problems plaguing us today that we need a more robust education in more than just rote learning. We, as a culture, have mostly forgotten how to properly think about things and it’s truly past time to remedy it. Especially with the access most of us have to then endless font of knowledge that is the internet and awesome resources like The Great Lectures, there is really no excuse for not familiarizing ourselves with the tradition of thought on ethics, epistemology, morals, law, and the like. There are signs that it is getting better but it’s an uphill battle against the bullshit con artists who would rather have us spending our time dreaming about cars, energy drinks, and cash.

Ugh. I think that’s about it for tonight. I’m really getting out of practice on sitting down to type things. I’ve got some stuff building in me, I’d really like to compose a couple papers on Nietzsche in the near future and I’ve been reading towards that end. It may be a fear of this turning into a soapbox for me to just rail against bullshit, which is something I really don’t care to do. So we’ll see how long I keep it up…

Fumbling with some bullshit…

Forcing Myself…


Life is busy. Wouldn’t be a good thing if it wasn’t but still I harp on myself constantly for not sitting down and doing this thing. So I decided to pop on quickly and jot down a few thoughts.

I’ve been delving into some Physics lately, mostly through audio books and The Great Courses through Audible. If you really want to have yr mind blown, take a read through something on general relativity, particle physics, and the search for the Higgs…heavy stuff…

Another thing that’s been weighing on me a bit, inspired by the increase in Science intake, is the fact that I’ve come to the point where I’m not so riled up by the ongoing debate/culture war between the religious majority and so-called New Atheism. I’ve identified myself as Atheist for most of my life, even going so far as adopting the label Anti-Theist for a time. Now I’m just sick and tired of the whole thing. Spend any time online in a community like /r/atheism and you’ll quickly become just as annoyed with the pseudo-intellectuals and crusaders in that camp as with the religious majority in the world. My main concern now is that human progress is being held up not just by fundamentalists who block research and funding but the energy wasted by some otherwise intelligent atheists on the debate. I have a lot of love for the work Dawkins is doing but I can’t help but think his time would be much better spent and more productive if he threw all that effort back into evolutionary biology. What I really want to see is more Bill Nye’s and Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s who spend less time on trying to fight the religious toe to toe and focus more on educating people.

I’m finally feeling like the band is getting some creative traction. We’ve started pulling together some new material and have even begun tracking our new single, “Long Road”, which is the first thing I wrote start to finish with BSR. There’s a show booked at mercuryroomyeg at the end of the month with a few local bands and it’s going to be so rad to hit the stage again. I’ve even begun to play a little more at home and have starting fiddling around with ideas and riffs either for BSR or P&D. There’s high hopes that we can keep this rock train moving along at a good clip this year.

Well that’s all for now, methinks. Going to dive back into the Pillars of Eternity beta I haven’t spent much time with but I’m getting antsy with the full release coming at the end of the month. Take care of each other and go learn something new, why dontcha.

Forcing Myself…

Ramble, Ramble, Romble

I’ve definitely been up and down with this writing thing but two posts per month for two months is some sort of record for me, at least as far as this real blog thing is concerned. I used to be all over Livejournal way back when and had a couple accounts, one semi-journal and one for a strange, free form fiction thing I was working on. This one feels different though, I can’t really pin down why. Maybe it’s because I’m more focused on actually creating something lately and to that end there have been days where I’ve forced myself to sit down and type. I think that’s going to be the biggest thing for me, making myself sit down and just start writing no matter what the intent or content. Frankly, it really has starting generating more and more ideas in my brain since I’ve actually devoted brain space to the whole endeavour. I’m slowly starting to form the bones of a couple stories, an article/essay or two, and even the outline of what I may want to podcast about. It’s also helped me start to shape my time a little better in all aspects of my life, including work. So I guess it’s driving me on to do more and more in all respects. Huzzah!

I’ve been struggling a little bit lately with trying to find a new game to sink my teeth into. Dragon Age: Inquisition was polished off about two weeks ago and I don’t have a lot of kid free time to sink into Grand Theft Auto V. Plus there’s this whole “I built a new computer ostensibly to use to game” thing. Darkest Dungeon still has it’s hooks in me, though a little less than the last time I wrote about it (I do have roughly 25 hours in it already, according to Steam, so it’s definitely still taking up play time).

I’ve reinstalled The Witcher 2 with the intent to give it a serious go, this time. There’s been issues with my attention span in the past with that game even though I love the world and the gameplay but something else always caught my attention. With the third game on the way I think it’s high time to really delve deep into Assassins of Kings and prep for the time I’d like to spend with 3 when it’s out. CD Projekt Red has done some really great things with the franchise and I’m thinking it may even usurp Dragon Age as my go-to fantasy setting game.

Lately, there’s been a real conflict happening in the back of my head over music. This will eventually warrant a much longer and more specific post but I’ve gone back and forth several times on the nature of the industry as it is now, where I think it’s heading, and where I’d like to see it go. This has kind of had an effect on my listening habits lately and sent me all over the map with my Deezer playlists. I fear I may be developing a weird sort of….elitism (?) as regards the bands/artists I spend my time listening to. It’s seeping into my view of myself as an artist/songwriter and how I’m interfacing with my band’s material as well. As I stated, I’ll get around to tackling it in a longer post or posts on the subject later.

I will say that I’ve been rediscovering some old favourites, like Weezer’s Pinkerton. Holee, I could write songs for the rest of my life and probably come nowhere near to writing as many gems as makes up the tracklisting for that album. Pure gold.

There is a percentage of my time at work that is spent with the fairly monotonous task of cutting laminate and vinyl to size for various installs. It’s not overly tasking on the noggin’ and tends to be my kind of zen, mindless task that helps break up the headaches of coordinating all the various parts of installs that I’m responsible for on a daily basis. I mention this as an awkward segue into my current surge of interest in history and philosophy brought on by the podcasts and audiobooks I’ve been listening to while engaged in that aspect of my workdays. I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy The Partially Examined Life and Dan Carlin’s Hardcore HistoryBetween the two I’ve definitely felt the rekindling of my sense of wonder and interest in history and thought. The PEL, especially, has been a source of entertainment and a provoker of thought for a couple years now and I recently decided it was time to sign up and subscribe to their citizens site.

I also have been loving the Great Courses series from Audible, particularly the philosophy sections and absolutely loved the two lecture series they have on Existentialism and Nietszche by Robert Solomon. Existentialism was a favourite topic of mine during my short stint as an undergrad at the U of A, and Nietszche was a philosopher I was predictably attracted to as a young man who thought himself so very wise. I even went out and bought Kaufmann’s Basic Writings of Nietzsche to have on hand whenever I feel the itch.

The only other thing that I’m really keen on writing about tonight is that I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find myself reading a whole lot more. I finally finished Pat Rothfuss’ The Wise Man’s Fear and goddamn am I looking forward to the third Kingkiller book. I absolutely love the world and characters that man has created and have just gone out and purchased the newly released The Slow Regard of Silent Things novella just to eek out a little more of a contact high. I’m also digging into Cherie Priest’s  Boneshaker at long last, something else I picked up ages ago and just haven’t gotten around to reading.

As a kid I spent a whole lot of time reading and I was always given access to both libraries and bookshops, something I’m attempting to do with my own children. I tended even then to be a little all over the place with regards to material, from The Hobbit to Brian Jaques’ Redwall on to Catcher In The Rye and The Metamorphosis before I even hit high school. Reading was something I was always doing. Now, as a husband and father with a real job and all, I am finding that I just squeeze in as much as possible. It’s gotten easier as the kids are starting to grow up and get a little more self-sufficient. I’ve found Goodreads to be a great resource to find stuff to read and to help motivate me to find longer stretches of time in which to crack a book.

That about does it for me tonight. Thanks very much to the (very) few of you reading and if by chance there’s any suggestions out there for me (books, games, bands, podcasts, etc..) please feel free contact me.

Take Care.

Ramble, Ramble, Romble

Stuff…About The Smashing Pumpkins

So the new Smashing Pumpkins album is out.

I’m still working out whether or not I like it.

The Smashing Pumpkins are, for me, one of those bands that completely alters the wiring in the brain about music. I was a teenager in the mid/late 90s and was totally caught up in both the Canadian rock resurgence and Alternative rock (along with some now cringe-inducing nu metal). The Pumpkins were at the top of the heap for me and most of the group I spent the majority of my time with. We had a pretty serious band going at the time and there was definitely a heavy SP influence on the group; some of our first covers were “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” and “Today”. I’d skip school a lot of days to head down to our rehearsal studio and just sit for hours playing along to cassette (!!!) copies of Gish and Siamese Dream on the tape deck we had.

I can vividly recall cutting class with friends on the days that both Adore and Machina: The Machines of God were released, going to the mall instead of school to line up outside the HMV to buy the new albums. As soon as the coveted disc was in hand I’d put it in my discman, throw on the headphones, hop on a bus and just ride until the end of the album. There are few moments more zen than sitting in the back of a public bus with headphones on and a great album blaring into your brain while watching the streets crawl by.

Adore, especially, was a major turning point and really rearranged the space in my nascent brain about the expectations of bands. I was shocked by the sheer change in velocity of that record. Coming off of Mellon Collie, the world tours, the loss of Jimmy Chamberlain, and all that giant superstar madness I’m sure it would have been a definite option for Billy Corgan to either close up shop or else just shovel out a heartless chunk of alternarock fuzz that would have sold just as well. What Adore turned out to be was pretty much a master class in how to reinvent oneself musically while retaining the core feeling and power of the original concept of the band. I think the best description I’ve ever heard for Adore is “campfire songs for the digital generation.” This really resonates with me. The songs are all very intimate sounding but coated in a very production heavy, electronic sheen. I really can’t overstate how much I love the album and I really think it’s getting better with age.

When the Pumpkins broke up (the first time) I was pretty crushed. I did get to see them live before the end at Summersault in 2000. It was part of their farewell tour, with Melissa Auf der Maur playing bass but Jimmy Chamberlain back behind the kit. It will forever stand out as one of my great concert experiences. Two parts that stand out for me: being front and centre in the pit when Billy launched into the guitar solo for Cherub Rock; and them playing Mayonnaise and 1979 with the sun setting behind the stage. With the last album and tour I was sure I was saying goodbye to one of, if not the, most influential band in my life.

So the band has been back for, what, three albums now. The announcement of Billy reforming the Pumpkins and releasing Zeitgeist had me buzzing for new material. That album fell kinda flat for me though. Even though it was the Pumpkins it didn’t really feel quite right. There are definitely some strong tracks but it lacks the depth I have come to associate with the band.

Oceania came out a couple years ago and I felt pretty good about it. I wasn’t sure how Billy would fill the holes left by James, D’arcy, and Jimmy but Jeff, Nicole, and Mike were enough to approximate what I felt the band was. Mike Byrne especially had some huge shoes to fill left by Jimmy whom I think of as one of, if not the, best drummers in the world. The album felt more like what I remembered a Pumpkins album feeling like. I went to the Edmonton stop of the Oceania tour and was actually blown away by how they sounded live. It was great to hear the entire new album in sequence for the first half of the show but of course I was there for the second half. There was a definite nostalgic moment when they played Cherub Rock and I was pleasantly surprised that Billy included X.Y.U. (one of the heaviest SP songs and one of my favourites) in the set.

Which brings me to Monuments To An Elegy, which is apparently one of two new SP albums set to be released this year. Nicole and Mike are no longer member of the band. I was confused by the decision to leave them behind but I wasn’t going to question BC’s choices on musicians. That is, until I heard that Tommy Fucking Lee was brought in to play drums on the album. This news definitely had me worried from the moment I read about it. It may have become apparent in the preceding paragraphs that I have major respect for JC and was even happily surprised by Mike Byrne. For me a major part part of what makes the Pumpkins discography so great is the level of musicianship that Jimmy Chamberlain brought to the rhythm section. And Mike Byrne, while not equivalent to the powerhouse that is Jimmy Chamberlain, did a fantastic job behind the kit for SP. But, and I cannot stress this enough, Tommy Lee cannot hold a fucking HOPE of being anywhere NEAR the drummer Jimmy is. Sure he can play well enough for the bloated, horrible freak show that is Mötley Crüe but I’m sure you could put a drunk monkey in place of just about any of them and still get what you’re looking for. The drumming on MTAE is actually holding the album back from being what it could be. There are a few tracks where it really stands out (Tiberius, One and All, Monuments come immediately to mind).

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just holding on to my history with the music that BC once made and thus cannot grasp what he is doing now. All credit to Billy for continuing on with the Pumpkins name and creating music still but I can’t help but feel a little bit like he has lost his way. It could be that I just interface with new music from anyone differently these days, which certainly holds true with a lot of the more recent bands that I became a fan of in the last decade or so and have trouble getting into their newer material. Whatever the case is, I’m still digesting the album when I have a chance to listen to it and the one holdover from previous SP albums is the feeling that it will take multiple listens to fully peel back the layers to see the heart of it.

This went a tad longer and became a bit more meandering than I meant it to be but that’s okay. Part of the reason I love this band so much is the fact that they inspire so much passion in me, not just for their work but for music in general and the way I interact with it.

Thanks for listening, we’ll talk again soon.

Stuff…About The Smashing Pumpkins

General Ramblings: Feb. 03, 2015

Good heavens, I am terrible at keeping promises to myself about things like this. I am working on a longer piece related to the release of the new Smashing Pumpkins right now but am at a standstill as to where I want it to go. It’s become apparent that the release of Monuments to an Elegy has brought up some quite conflicting feelings in me right now and I’m trying to sort them all out. There are also plans for a piece about the new-to-Steam-Early-Access game Darkest Dungeon that I’ve been playing since I received my Kickstarter beta key on Friday. That game has its hooks in me something fierce and it’s really inspiring me to blab about it constantly.

I’ve been playing with the idea of recording some sort of podcast lately. I really love the format and have a few that I listen to regularly; notably the Penny Arcade Podcast, Wil Wheaton’s Radio Free Burrito, The Nerdist, and Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. The whole idea of recording anything from random thoughts to actual conversations to actual play DnD games appeals to me in a big, bad way. There’s no actual format/topic in mind yet, just a nebulous cloud of possibility. My first instinct is to focus on what I really feel I know the most about, which is music. I’m leaning towards a local, Edmonton area theme, seeing as how I play in the scene and have plenty of friends in working bands as well. Not sure if anything will come of it but it would be a good excuse to actually use the Zoom mixer/recorder I bought a couple years ago to demo on and haven’t touched since.

It’s kind of funny how introspective I’ve become since I turned 30. I would’ve been the first to scoff at me actually typing that sentence even a year ago but now it’s scarily true. Although, I would have to say that some of it is definitely influenced by really being in the nitty gritty of raising children now and the sort of questions that process raises about who one is and the perceived desired result of one’s parenting duties. I’ve really been attempting to discern exactly what my stance is on all sorts of issues, and truly questioning and investigating my belief structure and epistemological point of view. Before kids/30 I was pretty reactionary on a lot of things and definitely intentionally antagonistic with a lot of my opinions. Not all of that has changed, I will still get my hackles up at the mere mention of bring religion or spirituality anywhere near my children and their malleable minds; or the possibility of the current culture of being okay with the lowest common denominator influencing their view of themselves an others. There’s a little of the old punk spirit left in me I guess but I think it’s more of an existential angst thing. I’ve been diving back into Existentialism and philosophy in general lately and Authenticity has become a pretty big buzz word in my inner monologue. There’s a lot to sort out but I think I’ll do some of it in longer works here.

Enough rambling for now, I think. I’m going to have to try and get an actual good night sleep to help steel myself to get though the week and end on a high note. Hopefully tomorrow night I get a chance to do some serious sentence construction, I’ve been reading a lot on a lot of topics and have some things percolating right now so there’s work to be done.

Good Night, Great Anonymous Electronic Mass.

PS: I’m so late to the party but I’m totally obsessed with The Civil Wars right now. The S/T album is tearing my brain apart with awesome.

General Ramblings: Feb. 03, 2015