Archive for June, 2011


The Cult: Still Sonic

June 16, 2011

There’s going to be a new Cult album this fall, two years after Ian Astbury notoriously proclaimed physical media dead before the veteran band embarked on its Capsule program of downloadable/USB stick EPs. I bought the first one, featuring a new song called Every Man And Woman Is A Star, and it rocked. I tried to buy the second but ran into difficulties, which made me wish Ian would re-think his position on actual CDs. Luckily, he now listens to me, and you know why.

My relationship with The Cult goes back to the very beginning, and I stick with them, because they’re my age, and their music reflects what I like, even when it changes, which it does. When I had beads and a crimper, they were playing swirly songs about desert winds and dark nights. Later, when leather happened, the boys re-discovered AC/DC at the same time I did. And in the ’90s, we all cut our hair, bought T-shirts with car logos on them and started thinking Butch Vig was on the right track. By the 2000s, we’d said so long to that crap and just wanted good, solid guitar hard rock, and didn’t mind so much when the old jeans didn’t fit no more.

I’m glad to hear the Cult is returning. Not that they ever went away for long; through decades of infighting, alcohol, mood swings, power clashes and big bad hair, founders Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy have always managed to drift back together. But it occurred to me this week, while reading about the new album, that they’ve managed to stay with a cohesive rhythm section for the first time in their careers — in fact, for the first time, the band will release two CDs with the same bassist and drummer: Chris Wyse (his third tour of duty) and John Tempesta (his second).

Raymond Taylor Smith, Nigel Preston, Mark Brzezicki, Les Warner, Jamie Stewart, Mickey Curry, Charley Drayton, Kinley Wolfe, Craig Adams, Billy Morrissey, Scott Garrett, Michael Lee, Matt Sorum, Martyn LeNoble, Kid Chaos and tons of other characters have been in The Cult over the years, and I didn’t google that — I just know this shit. Craig Adams, in fact, has been in Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and The Cult, which makes him the one-two-three punch of weird ’80s post-punk psychedelic gothic hard rock, and I hope he knows that.

In a recent interview, Astbury said part of the problem over the years was trying to find that connection with a drummer that was lost when the late Nigel Preston was booted for drugs. Preston played on Dreamtime (the band’s first album) and on their breakthrough single She Sells Sanctuary before vanishing into the needle. Astbury, who clearly loved the man, said no drummer, no matter how talented, connected that way again.

Until, of course, the latest lineup, which Astbury pointed out is the most stable the band has ever had. You know, like I did, earlier, before I watched that interview.

Anyway, since the odd homemade Born Into This in 2007, all we’ve gotten from The Cult is some live stuff online, the two Capsule releases and Astbury’s amazing performance on Ghosts, featured on Slash’s solo CD from last year. If the new songs — Every Man and Woman is a Star, Siberia  and Embers — are indicators, The Cult has found a new and interesting position between the hard, hard rock of 2001’s Beyond Good And Evil and Born Into This: eclectic, rhythmic, not too headbangy, and more introspective.

Well, it comes with age.


10 True Facts About Water

June 9, 2011

Okay, so I live in Canada, where we take water for granted, and you might not, so ha ha. Do you have to have water trucked in? Sorry, dude. Actually, that happens not far from here, because there’s a casino that was built without a freshwater supply, so the drinking water has to be brought in daily. Again, ha ha. When people who wear Depends because they won’t leave their slot machine of choice worry about having fresh drinking water, I will just give them an armful of Loonies and send them on their way.

Because I am in a sciencey mood, I am going to tell you about water today.

  1. Water exists in three basic forms: solid, liquid and gas.
  2. A Belgian paratrooper once told me drinking eight litres of water a day will cancel out everything else bad you want to do to your body, including cigarettes, fast food, beer, lack of sleep, people with inadequate protection against STDs and Wi-Fi.
  3. All the water on Earth has always been here. Seriously. It is constantly recycled and changes its form, but in its basic chemical form (H2Whoah), it has always been here. So that Diet Coke you’re drinking right now, think about this, because I’m dealing with mathematical certainties here: that Diet Coke contains water that has passed through the bodies of millions of people and animals, rained down, been swum in, touched the hulls of ancient boats, irrigated fields, been part of the ice age and was at one point a jello shooter someone sucked out of Lindsay Lohan’s buttcrack.
  4. As a liquid, water is either fresh or saline (saltwater.) We can’t drink saltwater, and it’s a pain in the ass to wash your clothes in, as I learned on the island. There is a process involving distillation that allows stranded people to get fresh drinking water from saltwater, but most people who get stranded are pretty stupid and don’t know it.
  5. My daily diet also exists in three basic forms: solid, liquid or gas. But the gas comes later, and usually because of the first two.
  6. One time, some guys in a lifeboat drew straws to decide who would eat who first. This came after drinking seawater.
  7. In reality, I drink a scary amount of water. Not as much as a Belgian paratrooper, but a lot. I like to think it keeps my girlish complexion glowing, and maintains my amazing muscle mass.
  8. Belgium has paratroopers, although I can’t tell you what they’ve actually ever done.
  9. One of the best ways to obtain water in a dry environment (desert, etc.) is to cut open a cactus. If you’re afraid of cactus, here’s what you do: you dig a shallow pit and place a metal or plastic receptacle about six inches down. Then you spread a plastic tarp over the pit. In the middle of the tarp, you place a rock, weighing the tarp down so that it touches the receptacle, but leaves a bit of space at its bottom. Then you wait something like nine or ten days, and you will have a few drops of condensation-based water. If you are one of those stranded desert people who happened to have a plastic tupperware container, a tarp and a rock, and know how to do this, you can take comfort as you die in knowing this would have worked if you could have held out for nine days in the heat for a drop of water.
  10. Now that I think of it, I got that Belgian information from a book. It might not have actually been me in the story. Also, I might have written a version of this before. But this one is more truthy.

STDVD: Trancers

June 7, 2011

Okay, so here’s what I need you to do: Come over here to the Weather Station, knock politely on the door, and when I answer, I will need you to punch me in the eye. As hard as you can, please. Really give it everything you’ve got. Why? Because I deserve it. See, I spent good money on the Trancers DVD box set.

How is that a professional science fiction writer/podcaster has never seen the Trancers flicks? Good question. They just stayed under my radar for decades, and also I worried they would be of poor quality, because that occasionally happens in science fiction, despite what you may have heard.

Yeah, I own all three Trancers flicks now. So far, I’ve watched Part 1, in which a character named Jack Deth, really, travels back in time from what looks like the 1930s but is supposed to be the future. To do this, Deth, a cop, dives into the body of his exactly-the-same-looking ancestor. Deth’s job is to find a terrorist who has also travelled back in time, or something, but he really just spends all his time bouncing Helen Hunt off a mattress while talking tough. And there are weird “trancer” zombies, but I didn’t really follow that part.

Good points:

  • Tim Thomerson looks like he’s about 70 in this movie, although he doesn’t seem to realize it and plays Deth young and virile.
  • There are some great lines that remind us that Thomerson was a comedian.
  • I remember now why I had such a thing for Helen Hunt in the ’80s.
  • The special effects are groundbreaking for their era.
  • Deth’s boss also travels back in time, but the ancestor he lands in is a little girl who shows up to tell Deth off.
  • This movie was one of the first to go straight to home video, because producers knew word of mouth would kill it after opening night in theatres.
  • I was just fucking with you about the special effects.

The bad:

  • There is not an original idea in this movie. Not one. And not in that good way, either.
  • Tim Thomerson also starred in Doll Man, in which he played a tiny super-cop.
  • The box art shows Deth wearing a nifty helmet that he never actually wears in the movie. I wanted to see that helmet, man.
  • There are some crap lines that make no sense. “Dry hair’s for squids,” Deth says after wetting his hair. Well, okay.
  • I remember now why Helen Hunt pretty much stopped acting for a long time.
  • This movie will make you say “Wow, I sure wish the effects were as good as The Starlost.”
  • There is a fourth movie that is so poor Tim Thomerson wouldn’t get involved.

Now, you know I have terrible taste in everything. I love crappy movies. I love cheap movies. But somehow, Trancers just didn’t hold my attention, because the suckness outweighed the charm.

I guess I’ll have to watch the other two flicks I have. After all, I paid five bucks for the box set.


Talk Nerdy To Me

June 4, 2011

After seeing this image on the Internet, I deployed my crack team of Weather Station field agents to track down this lovely lady. She turned out to be a student in Columbus, Ohio, named Jeannie. “Tell me,” I asked her during a Skype conversation, “What do people actually say to you when they see that T-shirt?” She later emailed me some samples she nicely typed up for me

  • “I like your Hogwarts.” (Tyler at KFC that night after the party at Becca and Stacie’s new apartment)
  • “I would like to share with you my theory about big bangs.” (Tyler at that Irish pub where they don’t check ID)
  • “Okay. I’m afraid of women, so I can’t talk to you, but later, I will tell my mom you’re my girlfriend.” (Rob in my trig class, who used to ignore me but now stares at me all the time with a little smile)
  • “Wow, Bristol Palin, your plastic surgery worked out great!” (Some old lady with a smoker’s cough at Wal-Mart)
  • “The reason a single-nacelled vessel is, in fact, impossible, is explained through a careful examination of Newtonian physics and Dr. Richard Dyson’s modelling of artificial wormhole creation in a void.” (Rick, the guy my dad knows in Florida)
  • “Sorry for puking on your favorite shirt.” (Tyler again)

UPDATE: Jeannie and Tyler are now dating; He was spotted at the KFC wearing her Green Lantern ring.