Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What happens...After Forever?

Me & Floor Jansen

Me & Floor Jansen

Well, my new favourite band of the moment, After Forever (MySpace), came to the Funhaus in Toronto for an intimate but exciting show.

The opening act was Montreal's Unexpect (MySpace), whom I can only describe as the Dillinger Escape Plan kidnapping Arcade Fire and forcing them to perform Phantom of the Opera or be ground up by a chainsaw. A very twisted and interesting sound, to be sure.

After Forever themselves performed majestically, rocking the hell out a cozy venue like Funhaus. Actually, it was nice to be in a club like Funhaus again: exposing ductwork and rafters in the ceiling; single, small bar with few taps; one pool table. I missed the ambience of low-rent goth-industrial clubs like Vatikan and Necropolis.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Faith of Reason?

OK, I found this kind of creepy:

A few miles south of Lynchburg in Campbell County sits a large and attractive octagonal building which is home to one of most unique churches in the world. Founded in 1977, “The Spock,” as the church is called, is the world’s only church of Star Trek, a religion centered on the popular 1960’s television series featuring the adventures of a crew of interstellar explorers. “The Spock” promotes beliefs associated with one of the popular characters in the TV series, Mr. Spock, who was from a peace-loving race of aliens known as “Vulcans.”

The ideology of the church is centered on so-called Vulcan philosophy which includes the belief in pure “logic” and which emphasizes a lifestyle devoid of emotion. A huge stained-glass likeness of the church’s namesake is featured in the sanctuary, where churchgoers recite sequences of dialogue from the series and participate in what they call a “Holy Mind Meld.” Many church members wear stick-on pointed ears (mimicking those of the TV character) during services and at other church functions (in one case of excessive dedication to the “faith,” one member attempted to have his ears surgically altered but with disastrous results, requiring extensive corrective surgery).

Now, normally, I find myself of the same mind as Professor Steven Dutch on this subject:

Contrary to popular psychology, this is not a society where people are out of touch with their feelings. This society wallows in feelings. If anything, what most people in this society need is precisely to get out of touch with their feelings for a while. Beirut, Belfast and Belgrade were all creations of people who were entirely too much in touch with their feelings.

When film does show rational people, it is often as a caricature. The Vulcans in Star Trek are the type examples. They are regularly portrayed as secretly longing to have human emotions but unable to do so because of their conditioning. (The Vulcans nearly destroyed themselves before they learned to control their emotions. See Beirut, Belfast and Belgrade above.) Or when the characters simply proceed rationally (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) critics lambaste them as stiff and wooden. Considering the number of people in the arts who have destroyed themselves through suicide, substance abuse or self-destructive lifestyles, I conclude that many media critics are simply unable to relate to characters who solve their problems rationally without going into depression or hysteria, that unless a character has some defect requiring deep therapy, they simply aren't interesting to the critics.

Clearly, though, these "Spockians" are not acting rationally at all, since a rational person would be the first to admit that one cannot be rational all the time. In fact, the effort to do so is extremely irrational.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Just in time for Halloween!

I wrote up this phony press release for work as a joke last Halloween, and many of my co-workers seemed to find it funny, so I thought I'd post it for all to see.

A bit of backstory: some of my coworkers noticed some teenagers using a ouija board in the library, and another one joked we should adopt a ouija reference service.

Anytown Public Libraries is pleased to offer another information service for our customers. We already offer our top-notch public service, our 24-hour email reference service, and our one number for all your information needs: (555) 555-BOOK, as well as our website located at This year, in the wake of Ontario Public Libraries Week, Anytown Public Libraries is pleased to add our newest information service, InfoGhost.

Using proven necromantic principles of ouija and seance, Anytown PL is now able to ask questions of the dead and departed on your behalf. Genealogical research has never been easier--why not ask you late grandfather exactly where
his grandfather came from? And if great-aunt Winnie is haunting your attic, maybe she knows where your missing library book is!

InfoGhost will launch on October 31, 2007, as our psychic consultants have informed us that the etheric energies released by Ontario Public Libraries Week will form a sympathetic resonance with the Gate to the Underworld while Scorpio is in the House of Jupiter at the end of the tenth month. Assuming these auspicious portents hold true, InfoGhost will go dead--er, live on Halloween!

InfoGhost is available only to registered members of Anytown Public Libraries. We regret that because of a deeply-held cultural belief in metempsychosis, InfoGhost may not be able to contact deceased relations of the Hindu or Sikh faiths.