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Friday, January 10, 2003

My muse is a harsh mistress/master, she decided to strike yesterday, last night and today when I was completely in the wrong place for dealing with creative impulses.

However, I'm back where I belong now! In front of the halcyon glow of my 17 inch Cathode Ray Tube, so that I can attempt to put to digital paper the .5% of what I remember wanting to write.

To start off I decided that the "tone" of my last few posting had been decidedly bent towards the objectification of women. Now, while I really do feel that the world needs to take a really big chill pill when it comes to political correctness, I also feel that The Lonely Gunman really should reflect my rather neutral stance on such issues. I mean, humans are humans, whether we have boobs or beards, bowties or beavers!

As my first exercise in balance and harmony I thought I would introduce when of my favourite male (and canadian) singers: Robbie Robertson. I'm not exactly comfortable changing "female singers who I have a crush on" to a more masculine title, so instead I think I'll call this series "Dang, I wish I could sing like these guys!"

Robbie has had a long musical career, originally joining Ronnie Hawkins' (Who happens to have the same birthday as myself! Hey, Happy Birthday Ronnie!) backup band: "The Hawks" in 1958. The Hawks went on to back up Bob Dylan (whom I'm named after, being born on the night of concert that my mother was supposed to be attending) as simply "The Band". The Band is one of my all time #1 groups, "The Weight" is one of those tunes that never fails to pick me up. (Gotta love those sweeeeeeeet harmonies!)

That's enough history, what I really want to talk about here is some of Robbie's more recent music. For some reason he is always credited as the major force behind The Band, which, to a certain extent, underplays the importance of the rest of the members.

Looking back, I realize that I've enjoyed his solo tunes for longer than I though. The first set of tunes that I was going to mention come from his self-titled debut album from 1987: and his second album from 1991: Storyville.

I haven't listened to the entirety of either of these CDs, however, they each contain at least three excellent tunes. "Showdown at Big Sky", "Broken Arrow" (Move over Rod!), "American Roulette" and "Somewhere Down the Crazy River" are my picks from the Debut CD. "Go Back to Your Woods", "Day of Reckoning (Burning for you)" and "Sign of the Rainbow" are the standouts from "Storyville".

"Somewhere Down the Crazy River" is probably my personal pick of that lot, with it's spoken word story that has always painted a surreal picture on the back of my head:

Yeah, I can see it now
The distant red neon shivered in the heat
I was feeling like a stranger in a strange land
You know where people play games with the night
God, it was too hot to sleep
I followed the sound of a jukebox coming from up the levee
All of a sudden I could hear somebody whistling
From right behind me
I turned around and she said
"Why do you always end up down at Nick's Cafe?"
I said "I don't know, the wind just kind of pushed me this way."
She said "Hang the rich."

Man! You just have to love that imagery! It fits everything from a hot southern night, to some dark corner of a William Gibson cyberpunk megatropolis.

It's clear looking back how his first two CDs laid the groundwork for the pair of CDs that I actually wanted to write about: "Music for the Native Americans" and "Contact from the Underworld of Red Boy".

"Music for the Native Americans" was commissioned for the 1994 Turner Network Television special, titled (aptly enough): The Native Americans.

Robbie's heritage is Half-Mohawk and to me this album really allowed him to make a rich connection with his heritage. It brings together his amazing song writing talents, both musically and lyrically, with some top notch native talent, including my favourite female "A Cappella Trio": Ulali, for Mahk Jchi "The Heartbeat Drum Song". (Talk about seriously beautiful harmony!)

He also worked with another famous native female trio: Walela, for the haunting "Cherokee Morning Song" and the Canadian Inuit group: Kashtin for the lovely "Akua Tuta". The group of musicians that worked with Robbie became known as "The Red Road Ensemble", which gets into rather deep areas of native spirituality. (Personally, it always reminds me of the "other" road in "The Wizard of Oz". You just have to wonder where there red brick road went, don't you?)

Every single song on this CD is a masterpiece, with the songs truly delving into some very interesting areas of native spirituality. I can't really pick favorite songs from this CD, so I'll just quote some of the lyrics that I find inspiring:

"Golden Feather" (Which inspired this piece of art.)

I gave my love a golden feather
I gave my love a heart of stone
and when you find a golden feather
it means you'll never lose your way back home.

"Words of Fire, Deeds of Blood"

perhaps you think the creator has sent you here to dispose of us as you see fit
if I thought you were sent by the creator
I might be induced to think you had a right to dispose of me
do not misunderstand me
but understand me fully
with reverence to my affection for the land
I never said the land was mine to do with as I choose
the one who has a right to dispose of it is the one who has created it
I claim a right to live on my land and accord you the privilege to
return to yours

"It is a Good Day to Die"

He spoke of the days before the white man came
With his guns and whisky
He told of a time a long time ago
Before what you call history
The general couldn't believe his words
Nor the look on his face
But he knew these people would rather die
Then have to live in this disgrace

What law have I broken
What wrong have I done
That makes you want to bury me
Upon this trail of blood

It is a good day to die
Oh my children dry your eyes
It is a good day to die

For some reason the critics chose to pan "Contact from the Underworld of Red Boy", but I can't find a single reason why! It's the perfect follow-up to MftNA and I personally find that I often blend the music from these two CD's into a single flow of really excellent tunes. The overall sound of CftUoRB may be slightly more modern, however, the evolution is executed flawlessly.

"In the Blood"

I can stand up through your destruction
My voice will tremble
My hands will shake
Yes I can stand up through your destruction
I won't break
I won't break

"The Code of Handsome Lake"

He drank your poison, swallowed your fire
And lay with fever four long years
He received a vision so inspired
Three messengers with painted faces appeared
On the Allegheny river at a place called Burnt House
The code was shared for the very first time
By a Seneca chief, they call Handsome Lake
With a Wounded Heart and a sober mind

Probably the most important song on the CD is "Sacrifice", which features the imprisoned activist Leonard Peltier telling the story of his horrifically unjust imprisonment.

Here is just a small quote:

Three of us were charged with the deaths of the FBI agents
My co-defendants were found not-guilty by reasons of self-defense
My case was separated and I was found guilty before a jury of non-Indian people
The prosecutor stated that they did not know who killed their agents
Nor did he know what participation Leonard Peltier may have played in it
But someone has to pay for the crime

Robbie really drove the point home when he made a comment about Leonard not being Mark Rich enough for a Clinton pardon when he accepted his Grammy award a couple of years back.

Geee, maybe I should expand the title of this series to "Dang, I wish I could Sing, Write, Produce (and hammer home a point) as well as these guys!"

Until next time!

posted by Kusari 7:37 PM

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Today I received an X-Mas gift that I purchased for myself via Canuckian Post's most advanced dogsled delivery system. It's a CD-ROM containing a pile of vintage erotic postcards from one of my favourite websites: Tallulah's Vintage Erotica.

I forget how I stumbled across Tallulah's, I think that I may have been looking for a "dirty" electronic postcard to send to a friend or the like, but it was love at first site! (or is that sight?). Of greatest personal interest to me are the postcards, however, this site has an incredible amount of content related to all things erotically vintage. There are articles on all sorts of erotica, as well as information on nudity in classic paintings and even some modern drawings and paintings in the older styles.

Now, when I use the term erotic here, I'm not talking about some lady with a vegetable stuffed in her hoohaa, I'm talking about good old fashion risqué nudity, the titillating and classy sort. This doesn't mean that you won't see some boobies and beaver if you visit this site, so be forewarned if you have a weak heart for such things!

My favorite picture from the site perhaps shows a little more than most, but it's such classic Dadaism that I simply couldn't resist sharing!

The CD itself is excellent, containing something like 2,500 vintage images, it's well worth the Twenty-some odd bucks canuckian it cost me. The pictures are organized by category, which makes exploring the CD mostly painless. Although, a good thumbnail proggy, like Thumbs+ from Cerious Software, helps as well. (Although I still prefer version 3.30 to the newer version 4 releases.)

To wrap things up I'd like to name my top 5 favorite thing about this kind of vintage erotica:

5. Bush! (No crazy shaved pubic patterns or razor burn in sight!)

4. Real Boobies! (Nary a shred of plastic or silicone to be seen in these puppies! And they're still perky!)

3. Blondes are in Short Supply! (Not that I haven't seen my fair share of lovely blondes, but I've always had a softer spot for ladies with darker hair!)

2. Luxurious Skin! (Thanks to the wonders of turn-of-the-century technology each and every one of these ladies has simply beautiful skin! Creamy soft and blemish free! Ok, it's a dream, but still lovely to look at!)

1. These Ladies have Meat on their Bones! (Lovely curved buttocks, sensual boobies and not a single symptom of emaciation!)

0. Can-Can Dancers! (No show is complete without Can-Can Dancers kicking their legs over the heads and revealing goodness-knows-what beneath all that fabric! VaVaVaVoooooommmmmmmm!)

posted by Kusari 11:54 PM

I think that it's time for a little post about my good buddy and ever-willing sidekick: Draxenn, as I've just realized that I've known him for over a decade now.

For those folks that haven't taken the time, you really should drop by his often-witty Blog and his dark poetry site, as they are both rather enjoyable!

Here's a piece of art that I recently put together to illustrate one of his dark poems.

Oh, and my dear squire, "Trill" are the symbiont life form from Star Wreck: Deeply Spaced-out Number Nine (mmmmmm, alien chicks with spots, narrrrrrrffffffffff!), "Tribbles" are the furry, evil, (Pompom Popper™) life form from Classic Star Wreck and a "Tilda" is the finny little squiggle on your keyboard.

posted by Kusari 7:11 PM

Here's another line from Avril Lavigne's "Anything but Ordinary":

Sometimes I get so weird
I even freak myself out
I laugh myself to sleep
It's my lullaby

Oddly enough this describes me pretty thoroughly! As proof, I offer up this rather odd conversation that I had with my good buddy Draxenn, which I must say left me completely Wackigasted!

It wasn't long after this conversation (and a small fit of Pseudo Dictionary Submissions) that I realized that I was a complete and utter Psuedobiblioholic.

{ascends the podium}

"Hi Everyone, I'm Kusari and I'm a Psuedobiblioholic."

"Hi Kusari!"

Ok, enough of that! I like to make up words, OK!? So sue me!

On the brighter side mental disorder, Face the has finally posted my art! Yay! Please take a look and be sure to vote!

It's worth having a look at the art posted on FtJ because I've actually taken the time to write out the deeper meanings behind some of the pieces. This is information that you won't find anywhere else on the 'net (and it was written when I was at the apex of my cold last week, so only Eris knows what you may discover!)

And don't forget that you can vote on my beer rating at How Many Would it! (My current rating is 9 beers over 6 votes, with 3 of those votes being for zero beers. This leads me to believe that a lot of folks drink their fair share of beer before visiting HMWIT!)

You can also decide my Hotness Rating at Hot or! (Which is currently at 6.1, due to a couple of 8 votes, which again proves my theory about drinking and surfing! Let's just hope that it holds true for folks that vote for weird art at Face the Jury!)

Oh, and my apologies, as it seems that the "Love from Abroad" voting site died a rather quick death the other night, I'll let ya'll know if it ever pops up again!

Catch ya later folks!

posted by Kusari 6:08 PM

Monday, January 06, 2003

Here's a couple quickies for all those fans of voting websites:

The potentially offensive Rate My Rack gives boobie connousuiers everywhere the chance to stare at enough jugs to earn more than just a case of "The Old Hairy Hands".

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! If you go to Rate My Rack you will see all sorts of naked ladies (as the site has about 10 billion porn banners.) If this sort of stuff isn't your cup of tea, then go somewhere else for your voting fun (like Florida), I'm not responsible if you see something offensive!

Potentially of less offensive is this site dedicated to voting on Russian Mail Order Brides. This site contains more lovely Russian Babes that you can shake a stick at, the perfect cure for the wintertime blues when you grew up ogling Barbara Bach in "The Spy Who Loved Me" or Daniela Bianchi in "From Russia with Love".

If I had enough dough I'd order myself a six-pack for express delivery!

posted by Kusari 2:05 AM

I’m sure that all kinds of folks have written long dissertations and papers about this subject, but I had this epic dream last night where this all came to me and I felt compelled to write it down…

The Lord of the Rings is undoubted one of the all time classic novels and beyond classic folk legends, serving as the base of most modern fantasy writing. The interesting thing that my dream revealed to me was the way that it is basically the story of a bunch of heroes facing their own inner demons in the form of real monsters who are their literal direct opposites.

On the larger scale of The War of the Ring we have such players as the Elves who face the Orcs, a race born from tortured and corrupted elves and the Ents whose opposite are the foul Trolls.

When we step down to the personal level we find that almost all of the characters must face their own personal opposites. For Aragorn and Éowyn it comes in the form of The Nazgul, the corrupted kings of old. For Frodo it’s Gollum, who represents his potential destiny if he is unable to destroy the ring.

Gollum, at least as portrayed in the Peter Jackson movie, also turns out to a creature who faces his own literal internal demons in the form of the constant dialogue between Gollum and Sméagol.

Gandalf is interesting that he faces two opposites, however, this is fitting his resurrected status. His first nemsis is the Balrog, the fire and shadow dark Maiar*, the literal demon, who proved to be an equal rival for the wizard who was also Maiar, but in a much more humbled form.

The reborn Gandalf then goes on to face Saruman, who is also Maiar, but once again corrupted and now nothing but Sauron’s pawn.

Gimli and Legolas are very interesting in the fact that they turn out to be each other’s foils, but instead of finding a demon to be defeated, they learn to rely on each other to overcome hardship.

My memory on "The Return of the King" is more than a tad fuzzy (considering that I read it about 15 years ago) however, I also recall that Merry and Pippin as face down their opposite in the form of a couple of "Hobbit Bullies" near the end of things. Nothing like a nice Ent brew to bolster a Hobbit's courage it seems!

The only main “character” that didn’t have a foil was Sauron, however, he is representative in the story and while the greatest source of evil for Middle Earth, the story never touches upon him directly. He is simply evil incarnate, the grandmaster toying with his chess pieces in order to win the ultimate prize

*Basically the lesser powers of the ancient world.

Just in case you were wondering, I’m not enough of a Tolkein freak to have this all in my head, I used “A Tolkein Bestiary” by David Day as reference, I wouldn’t have know a Maiar from Myopia otherwise.

posted by Kusari 1:49 AM

Sunday, January 05, 2003

Ok, time for another addition of "Female Singers That I Have a Crush On"!

This time we're going to look at a relative newcomer to the music scene: Avril Lavigne. Now, a lot of folks out there that either don't like Avril, dismissing her as cheapo bubblegum pop or who choose to compare her (somewhat unfairly in my opinion) to Alanis Morissette.

I've also heard complaints that she's a rather opinionated sort for being so young and well I'm sure that this trait would be quite annoying, it doesn't bother me in the least, as I'm here to talk about what's important to me: the music.

As for being over-produced factory music, well, I gotta a surprise for you folks; unless you are digging and scraping around with a microscope for the rare exceptions, everything, music and otherwise, in today's world, has its roots firmly entrenched in corporate toxins of one kind or another.

Oh and I just happen to like Alanis' sound, so, if a couple of the tracks on the CD happen to sound Alanis-esque, I can deal with that.

Yikes! That's a lot of ranting! Therefore it must be time to move on to the facts and nothing but the facts (well, that's not true, as you're about to experience a heavy dose of my opinions as well).

"Let Go" is Avril's debut CD, the persona that the music is being sold under is that of the "Sk8er D00Dette" who just happens to hail from the "small" (5,000 peeps is a booming metropolis compared to the 800 in my hometown) Ontario Town of Napanee.

The "biography" included with the CD and posted on her official website is surprisingly sparse and was no doubt conceived of in the deep, dank pits of advertising copy hell and doesn't even bother mentioning how old she is. I'm assuming from some "unofficial" web content and her pictures, that she's around 17, not a bad time to ascend the ladder of music stardom.

So, just what do I like about Avril Lavigne? Well, the first thing is her voice, quite honestly (beyond the ill-conceived rapping parts of "Nobody's Foo"l) she doesn't sound 17, I would have bet dollars to donuts that she was in her mid-twenties judging by her voice alone. The other thing about her voice, is that having spent my entire life in Northern Ontario, there is something "comforting" about the familiar accent that sneaks into her songs.

The debut single from "Let Go" was "Complicated" and (oddly enough) was the first song by Avril which I heard. It was intriguing enough that I decided to hunt down a few tunes and it wasn't long before I had downloaded the entire CD (keen observers will note that I did go on to purchase the CD).

The first tune that really caught my attention was "Anything but Ordinary", as it struck a familiar chord in my personality:

Is it enough to love?
Is it enough to breath?
Somebody rip my heart out
And leave me here to bleed
Is it enough to die?
Somebody save my life
I'd rather be anything but ordinary please

As an interesting note, "Anything but Ordinary" is the theme that the "biography" writer chose as the focus for the "bio" (i.e. advertising copy) I mentioned earlier.

"Sk8er Boi" is probably the hardest rocking track of the bunch, but it actually tells a romantic little tale of snobbish (and eventually mooish) rejection and eventual redemption that just tickles me everything I hear it. (Just my ardent CF side coming through I suppose!)

My two favorite tunes are: "Mobile", perhaps one of the funkiest and excellent analogies to a life in turmoil I've come across in a goodly while:

Start back at this life
Stretch myself back into the light
I'm waking up to say I've tried
Instead of waking up to another TV Guide
Its time now, I turn around
Turn and walk on this crazy ground

What a lovely way of expressing one of my personal philosophies in life! I'd rather fail a hundred thousands times than to live knowing that I never took a chance and for some reason the line "…another TV Guide" mirrors that feeling perfectly, but with a twist of humor that really sticks out in this small town boy's mind!

I also love this analogy from the same song:

I'm a mobile
Hanging from the ceiling
Life's a mobile
Spinning 'round with mixed feelings
Crazy and wild
Sometimes I wanna scream out loud

You go girl! Damn I know those kinds of days exactly! (They're often when I do in fact end up screaming out loud!)

And: "My World", a song which coveys two parallel stories, the first is a recounting of (all too familiar) small town life:

I never spend less than an hour,
Washin' my hair in the shower,
It always takes five hours to make it straight,
So I'll braid it in a zillion braids,
Though it may take a friggin' day,
There's nothin' else better to do anyway.

And the second is that of a mind that I find eerily familiar:

Can't help if I space in a daze,
My eyes tune out the other way,
I may switch off and go in a daydream,
In this head my thoughts are deep,
But sometimes I can't even speak,
Will someone be and not pretend? I'm off again in my World

You can ask any of my friends about when I just get "Lost in my own World"…

"Things I'll Never Say" also contains some nicely romantic sentiments and in the end I think it's the combination of romance, artistic passion and small town life that really attracts me to Avril's music. I get the feeling that this is a lady that (despite the age difference) I could sit down and connect with.

The rest of the CD is an interesting combination of sounds, "Why", "Falling Down" and "Tomorrow" both tone down the rocking side of things for a softer pop sound. While "Unwanted", "Too Much to Ask" and "Naked" are the tunes that are mostly likely to draw comparisons to Avril's Canuckian compatriot Alanis Morissette.

The soul tune that is out of place is "Nobody's Fool", an odd blend of "white rap" and catchy pop, which really isn't all that bad.

All-in-all this is one of those rare CDs that I actually don't mind listening to every tune on. Something that I can't say truthfully about many CDs, including ones by some of my all time favorite singers, such as Sheryl Crow.

The only complaint which I have is that far too often she seems to fall back on "La La La" lyrics, still, this is a small complaint and certainly forgivable.

A rare blend of enjoyable pop and rock with a Northern Ontario twang earns Avril the official title of a lady singer whom I have a crush on!

Ok, that's it for this episode of the lonely gunman, catch you on the flipside!

posted by Kusari 10:35 PM

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