Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Sathya Sai Baba

Friday, July 28, 2006

Other Scott

So, I need to talk about Scott Pilgrim. I just met him today, and I think... well, I have a major thing for Scott Pilgrim. He's funny, he plays bass, he has all kinds of girl problems, and he's the best fighter in Toronto.

He's also a comic book character. And he ROCKS.

Yeah, aside from the level of homosexuality in the 1st paragraph of this post, which I'm pretty sure I'm OK with, that's my new thing right now. Scott Pilgrim saved my shit today, just when I was starting to get depressed. It's the funniest, most human, most surprising graphic work out there right now, and I'm in love with it. The people on got me turned onto it, and I think the guy that directed Shaun of the Dead is set to do the movie treatment. I know I'm like 2 years behind the curve on this one, but this is such a great book.

It's a american manga (even though it's canadian). I didn't care for the art at all, but it kept surprising me, and making me laugh. It's quite excellent, and if you haven't read it, go out and buy it right freakin' now. It's that good.

Also James' Blog has a great little post about the place of Nosedive Productions (the theatre company I frequently work with) in the theatre world. Specifically, it asks the eternal question (which I have been asking myself of late) "How we gonna get PAID?" Some of my (admittedly, slightly incoherent) thoughts are to be found there.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Random Rules - Scot's ipod

Taking a cue from The Onion's AV club, I will, on Wednesdays, play and comment on the first 5 random songs that come up on my ipod. So there.

Kate Bush - "Love and Anger"
I had a roommate in college who loved Kate Bush. LOVED her. He had great taste in music and was, in almost all other respects, a singularly unpleasant person. He was into 4AD bands with beautiful woman singers singing unintelligibly in high, ethereal voices. I was glad that he got me into Kate Bush, though, as it turns out that any entheogenic trips that seem to be going awry can be mellowed by Ms. Bush and her lovely, lovely voice.

The Cardigans - "Heartbreaker"
Don't have much to say on this one, except that these guys were really great, and then put out a couple of really not-good albums. This album, though, was terrific, "First Band on the Moon". It's what happens when really talented musicians who would rather make depressing music try to make ironic pop and end up just making pop. Pop is not ironic! Behold the power of pop!

Immortal Technique - "Peruvian Cocaine"
Interesting in that it uses multiple rappers to create an almost linear narrative through monolouges of the cycle of drugs from picking and smuggling to sales. A great song, but sometimes he comes off a little polemical to me. I appreciate strident militancy, but I feel like he leaves out other points of view...

Dolly Parton - "Stairway to Heaven"
Another great moment in Dolly's re-positioning herself for the ironic hipster audience. Bluegrass meets Zepplin, and I'm shallow enough to think this is pretty f-ing cool. I saw Dolly at Radio City music hall, and saw more drag queens in the audience than I have ever seen in my life. It was like a convention!

Pearl Jam - "Low Light"
This points up one of the problems with my iPod "system" (if such a beast could be said to exist). I like listening to albums, and try to put whole albums on my Pod in an effort to expose myself to tracks I wouldn't normally check out, but when I'm walking around with the sucker on "shuffle" it comes up with songs that I really don't want to hear. Like this forgettable little gem from "Yield". Ah well.

And so we end, not with a bang, but a whimper.

Also, if you have a moment, go check out Author John Crowley's Blog at He is one of the greatest authors in English working right now, and he has a livejournal. That is just so *cute*!

The newest addition to the family

Everyone, I'd like to introduce you to my niece, Ms. Caitlin Rose Larson. She was born on the 26th of June in the year 2006, and she is the most beautiful baby I've ever seen.

Caitlin, this is everyone.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Jupiter, Jehovah and Holst

So, this past Sunday I went to church for what will probably end up being the last time this year (while I’m in Boston and on tour I probably won’t be attending, and, as I have mentioned, the current experiment with Christianity may need to be revamped in order to remain relevant to current experiences/desires). I walked to church and turned on the old iPod which I had recently loaded up with Holst’s The Planets Suite.

A bit of background - after studying some in astrology, Gustav Holst decided to write a suite based around the astrologically important planets of his time: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. Pluto hadn’t been discovered when he started, so it isn’t included. He wrote each part of the suite to evoke the astrological/mythical aspects of the given planet. For example, the opening is “Mars, The Bringer of War”, there’s “Venus, The Bringer of Peace,” etc.

On my way to church, and feeling in a syncretic mood, I dialed up “Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity.” I hate the title, by the way. It’s gets at the Latin roots of the word jollity, i.e. Jove, another name for Jupiter, but Jollity seems so frivolous, and neither the piece, nor the Thunder God, are frivolous. The music, however, perfectly captures the sense of what is traditionally longed for in the Christian vision of God – a generous, loving, joyful daddy whose concern and mercy is complete and utter. Since Jehovah is essentially a Semitic Thunder/Sky God, it’s very easy to draw parallels. The music is both majestic and playful, the sound of Leviathan gamboling in the deepest oceans. There is a both weight and lightness to the sound that is created, a solemnity that has, at its heart, a deep and abiding joy.

In listening to the piece, I was reminded of Alan Moore’s Promethea. At one point, Promethea is ascending the Tree of Life and she comes to the sphere of Chesed (also know as Mercy), which is traditionally associated with Jupiter. She remarks, “This is bigger than the love people have for each other. This is the unconditional love of the universe for its children. For itself.” and later, a character (I can’t remember who) says that the universe would take a bullet for us, if it could. It is the strong, protective love of the father.

I was struck, as we went through the service, of the prevalence in traditional Christianity of the flip side of Chesed (the qlippoth, for those keeping score at home), tyranny. It is characterized by intolerance for the possibility of ambiguity or other opinions on how to deal with the world. This is what happens when any one aspect of the world is too strongly emphasized. It becomes it’s opposite. I saw this most strongly while talking a number of years ago to my friend Mary (those who have ears, let them hear). I read the book of Revelations under her influence, and saw deep into the heart of the qlippoth of Chesed. I saw a God so grief-stricken at his creation’s fall that he sees no choice but to destroy it utterly. The wrath and sorrow made perfect sense. This is the God that condemns unbelievers to Hell, that licks the plains of Sodom and Gomorrah clean with tongues of flame. This is the God that most of us know, the S&M God fetishized into reality by Goth kids, Death Metalheads, and Fundamentalist Christians.

I don’t know if “God” is really like this. Presumably, even though it is an extreme position, it represents some aspect of the universe that has manifested at one point or another. It isn’t healthy, in my opinion, but that’s just me.

The vision that I saw while reading Revelations, and the vision I had listening to Holst were flip sides of the same vision. But I know which I prefer. It was very nice to have, in my heart and resonating in my mind, a vision of God which is both loving, and majestic, not to mention totally divorced from the vengeful Daddy fantasies of the Fundamentalist Christian Wing.

And, as a side note for all you bourgeoning Qabbalists out there, do take note that Holst’s The Planets is really excellent for invoking planetary energies. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Loki loves you

Had a friend call me “Loki” the other night. The context isn’t really important (a late-night conversation, some advice). Now, too many comic books when I was a kid messed up my head a little about Loki – Captain America fought him, if I recall, and he was the impetus behind the formation of The Avengers (Marvel Comic’s Avengers, not the hip British TV show with Emma Peel). I always saw Loki as the vindictive side of chaos. Even his portrayal in Norse mythology tends to paint him as the fly in the ointment, the uninvited guest, the guy who lays the turd in the punchbowl. But I did a little more research, and found some interesting things...

Here’s what I wrote my friend:

Did a little research on Loki, just to see if there was a match - turns out that there is some indication that Loki is what is called a hypostasis of Odin, i.e. they're the same in the way that the parts of the Trinity are the same. Loki is just Odin in his more... chaotic aspect. This makes some sense, since they are blood brothers, and the connection between them is strong enough to cause all kinds of problems.

The other interesting point is that Odin is the only "top dog" god in any pantheon associated with Mercury. There's some indication that Mercury was top god in the Mediterranean for a while. His symbol was the lignum/phallic standing stone, which you can still find scattered along roads in Greece... but then the aryan/semitic influence came down the pike and everybody wanted big daddy thunder gods. No accounting for taste, I guess.

Mercury/Odin/Hermes all being associated with language gives more evidence as to the Loki/Odin connection. In Odin we have the "positive" (i.e. socially acceptable and cohesive) aspect of language, while in Loki we see the shadow side - tricks, scams, seductions, stories. We also see, in Loki, the ambivalent relationship between the dark, reticent Norse and language. Reasoning, poetry, wisdom, the ability to speak well, these are all prized in their culture, but at the same time they recognize and are afraid of and disturbed by language's power to wreak havoc. Once again the uncomfortable aspects of a given power are shunted off into the "other" and then kept in check (cf. Prometheus. Notice the similarities between Prom. and Loki in their ends, both bound to rocks in never ending torments).

And to bring it back around to me (don't I always?) my friend Chad always used to call me "Spider". In reading the book "Anansi Boys" by Neil Gaiman, I found out that Spider is the trickster god in the African/Jamaican tradition. I have been consciously taking on the more trickster-y aspects of that moniker over the past year or so: charm, stories, constructive chaos. Spider is the well-spring of civilization. He is the inventive part that looks at the work and tries to think of a way to get it done faster so he can sleep with the pretty girls. He is imagination and surprise and the twist ending that leaves you laughing in spite of yourself. So when the runes told you Loki would give you advice, they were talking about it in the only language they had.... pretty cool, huh?

Not that I am entirely Spider/Loki (apparently I also have aspects of Pan, according to this friend – high praise, indeed! I mean, if that’s your thing). I’m just trying to learn to access that part of myself. I’ve met some people who embody chaos much more strongly than I ever could hope to (DH, I’m looking at you). There’s a downside to everything though, isn’t there? Embody chaos, you may find your life becoming unmanageable. Balance is the key. Wisdom and chaos in equal measure, with the occasional wild list to one side, just to keep things interesting.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Meet the new blog...

...same as the old blog. I've created a new blog over at that will serve as my connection to my friends and loved ones while I'm doing the touring thing.

Part of the reason I'll be posting at this other blog is to create a sort of clearinghouse of information as I learn stuff about the whole touring "lifestyle" or whatever. There wasn't a thing on the web about how to tour, so I figured I'd contribute to the knowledge base by making something that people could refer back to. So there you go.

I'll continue to post my usual rantings and metaphysical ravings here, but travel stuff will be in the new blog - go there and see what's what, schmecky.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Words to live by

"...the guy who'll get up there in front of people and not be afraid of humiliation is the most powerful guy in the room."

- Wayne Coyne, in July 13th Rolling Stone Magazine

Friday, July 7, 2006

In failure, we may find success

In reading Ramsey Dukes’ very enlightening (and occasionally exasperating) introduction to A.O. Spare’s Book of Pleasure, I was struck by the following passage

“We may not be liberated from failure and misery, but we may be in a position to use it. Knowing the law of duality brings the possibility of distinguishing ourselves from its working. No more the blind slide into despair but rather the studied descent, and the plan to use that unavoidable despair in order to plan the next high point.”

This seemed familiar to me. Anyone who has watched a space opera like Star Trek or the like will probably be familiar with the concept of the “slingshot” in which the gravity of a planet or star is used to increase velocity. As one approaches the influence of said star or planet, one’s speed increases as gravity begins to exert its inexorable influence. The extra speed is used to whip one around the planet and send one shooting off (presumably in the direction one wishes to go) at a greatly accelerated rate.

It seems that, theoretically anyway, one should be able to use ones decent towards failure in the same way. Calculating velocity and relative angles, one might even be able to increase speed as one rounds the corner toward “failure and misery”. It is not just the ability to “plan the high point” that we are gifted with in our failure. Used correctly, our next triumph is contained in our failure! “All” we need do is go with the motion, use the momentum to thrust us into our next venture.

“All,” indeed. Of course, this is very, very difficult to remember when one is in the midst of a failure or misery. Often the tendency is to get “stuck” in the moment of pain. Our relationship to pain is complex. Pain is our greatest friend, warning us of our vulnerability and attempting to protect us from the costs of our reckless wandering through the world. Since it is such a friend (though we don’t always think of it this way), we tend to hang on to our pain. In fact, we’re actually hardwired to remember our pain for a long time, and keep it close. It’s purpose, after all, is to keep us safe, and who are we to deny the accumulated wisdom of several million years of evolution?

Psychosynthesis posits that problems are often caused by a portion of our personality doing work that it wasn’t designed to do, or through certain aspects of ourselves becoming stuck in extreme positions. Consciousness allows us to look at these aspects of our personalities (for example, our memory and the personality that develops around a particularly painful memory or experience) and find other solutions than acting out unconsciously from a place that no longer functions as we’d like.

All of this rigamorale is to say that, for example, when my recent situation ended, I found myself presented with a unique opportunity, which I used for all I was worth. I ended up with a much better job (and hopefully, prospects for other jobs) which will be the beginning of a totally different direction for me.

I hope my friends in difficulties right now (and there are some – those recovering from a so-called “failure”, those who are still stuck in negative and difficult mind-sets due to traumatic experiences, those who are re-evaluating their self-image and attempting to reconstruct a working persona with which to deal with the world) can read this and find some comfort.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Nervous Boy Trailer

Check out this amazing trailer for "The Adventures of Nervous Boy (A Penny Dreadful)". I think it looks pretty amazing.

Remember, this is our last weekend. Do yourself a favor and check it out. See you there!