The Bolshevik Empress has Returned!

I wrote for VICE over decade ago under my real name and also a bunch of pseudonyms, one of which was The Bolshevik Empress. And, unrelated, here we are again. But no more fake names!

READ: These New Startups Want to Make the Sharing Economy Less Racist and Sexist

Let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading.

ALONE (short story)

I’m pleased to release a new short story for your reading pleasure on these brief Fall afternoons. What is this story, ALONE, all about?

Two marooned astronauts cope with isolation, existentialism and artificial intelligence in this romantic tragedy.

I’ve been writing on ALONE for nearly a year, picking it up and working feverishly on it, then putting it away for weeks at a time. Finally I decided to let it out into the wild. This germ of this story sprouted from wanting to write something that made the reader (you) feel uncomfortable. I test my protagonist with impossible situations, of being alone and confined while travelling through the infinity of space. What does life mean at that point? What would keep someone alive or cause them to give up hope?

This is a sentiment I’ve often felt — though not while travelling through space where a technical malfunction could mean certain death — but on tour. In a tiny bunk on a tour bus, squished up in a van with 6 other people or on an intercontinental flight for hours on end: each day, every day, for months at a time. On the road, my purpose is constantly tested, patience taken to new heights. On a terrestrial tour, if something goes wrong, it is easily remedied. You pull over and the problem easily solved. But what would you do in space, alone, with limited resources and millions of miles from anything resembling home?

I also tip my hat to CBC’s Canada Writes and their “Sci-Fi Twitter Challenge” — though I’m not exactly sure what that means. I guess this is my long-form contribution to the community. There is sadly no podcast at the moment (as my lengthiest finished story, the MP3 file would be too enormous). For eyeballs only. Happy reading.

Backstage at Funny or Die

I found this pic, snapped by the mother of child actor Zachary Alexander Rice, as we waited backstage at the Funny or Die studio. This was my first experience meeting a real live Hollywood Child Actor. He was about the same age as my daughter, yet he acted like a 40-year-old. He was a super nice kid; and that was a fun day. Later, the cast (including The Dears) and crew had lunch in the very same conference room where Will Ferrell holds meetings about jokes.

Bad Nerd

Aaaaaah…haven’t written since I listened to Vauxhall and I a few weeks ago while rolling in the back of a van down North America’s West Coast. There’s not much to add. I intend to write a thing on my awesome SXSW Accelerator experience, but we all know the road to Hell is paved with good intentions*. Also, we have tour dates. We have interviews (I especially promote this one I did recently with PopMatters – it got kind of intimate). Here are said tour dates. Please join us so we can sweat on you and/or shred in your face. 2gether-ness.

Mon March 28, 2011 – Pawtucket, RI @ The Met
Tue March 29, 2011 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg Tickets
Wed March 30, 2011 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall Tickets
Thu March 31, 2011 – Philadelphia, PA @ North Star Tickets
Sat April 2, 2011 – Laval, QC @ Salle Antonine Labelle Tickets

Wed April 13, 2011 – Berlin, Germany @ Frannz Club Tickets
Thu April 14, 2011 – Brussels, Belgium @ AB Club Tickets
Fri April 15, 2011 – Paris, France @ Le Fleche D’or Tickets
Sat April 16, 2011 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Melkweg Tickets
Mon April 18, 2011 – London, UK @ Borderline (SOLD OUT)
Tue April 19, 2011 – London, UK @ Borderline Tickets
Wed April 20, 2011 – Manchester, UK @ Ruby Lounge Tickets
Thu April 21, 2011 – Glasgow, UK @ King Tuts Tickets

Unrelated, I was thinking of trying to claim the term ‘Bad Nerd’ because that is what I am.

Year in Preview

Ahhh, first post of 2011. I recently got a “status report” from WordPress about the “health” of my blog. Apparently this blog is very healthy or “WOW” status, to use their terminology. It’s been viewed 28,000 times in 2010, which works out to 2,333.333 times per month, which it pretty awesome considering I only post about 4 times a month.

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Yeah, um, so anyway. Welcome back. I hope to post more, but I’ve been spending more time working on my sci fi ideas, of which I hope to post clips soon. What would you prefer, though: a text post or a free downloadable mp3 of me READING the text? Listen to that shit on your way to work! Or both. Just an idea.

2011 is going to be a busy year: I forsee lots and LOTS of touring, coming to visit everyone we haven’t seen in a while. Love you all, thanks for reading, and for being one of the 77.777 daily visitors!

Portrait of Us


Check this painting/portrait of Murray and myself that was part of a recent series by Quebec City paintress Caroline Jean. She also did one of The Dears’ Patrick Krief and Maia Davies of Ladies of the Canyon (who are, incidentally, opening our Wednesday Oct 13th residency show in Toronto).

Arrested Development

A recent Arrested Development marathon around these parts has left a surprising impression on me. Murray wrapped watching the whole series last week, yet I am still thinking about it. Pure comedy, unbridled idiocy, total genius.

I know Michael Cera has had a major resurgence for his recent role in Scott Pilgrim (Side note: Check out this photoshop competition – scroll down to the comments for maximum laffs. I love that shit. And, also, he was born and raised in Canada, so all Canadians everywhere will forever claim him as one of “Ours.” *sigh*

But I will mainly remember Mr. Cera for this:

As it was intended, I’m sure. Anyway, the whole point of this post was because my new love for Arrested Development reminded me of this time backstage at the Siren Festival in Coney Island. I don’t think it was the year we were playing, but we were hanging out with soms palz, including Stacey M. when we also saw David Cross, who very graciously joined us for this:

At the time we were in love with him for his brilliant comedy tape, Shut Up You Fucking Baby, which we listened to dozens of times on tour. Thanks to Rob Benvie for sharing that joint with us, for we still, to this day refer to “The Gator and The Lunatic” in most of our music industry-related conversations.

Thank you, everybody, for the jokes. That is all.

Waiting

Waiting: the lull after the album making frenzy is finished, and the moments before the marketing machine starts up. I imagine this is how a fireman must feel: trained and ready for action but having to just sit there and wait for the call. Wait for the moment when the little light on that red telephone flashes. It’s maddening and the moments of self-doubt are the worst. So then I’m sent into the distractions, I, Robot, Scanners, Red Dead Redemption, Big Bang Theory and dreams of Wil Wheaton and that guy that plays Chief in BSG. Too much time on the internet. The feeling of staring up towards an unseen goal at the top of a mountain I’m about to climb.

It’s a feeling of endless possibility, and total impossibility. The waiting game. Waiting to conquer.

I saved a draft of an earlier version of this sentiment about a month ago: I was coming down from being in the studio and jumped headfirst into mixing: “This band is like a team of mercenaries, a bunch of guys that just come in for the kill, unforgiving, with destructive force.” Something to look forward to? Or something like this:

Musical Mnemonics 2: Songs About Los Angeles

Some classic albums here. They remind me of high school (first two, at least), being at my parent’s house, listening to music like crazy. I listened to music all the time. In my room, when I was drawing, writing, doing math or whatever. Sometimes if I had a “spare” class right before lunch I would walk home, make some macaroni and cheese and blast this stuff on my parent’s stereo. My grandmother must of thought I was crazy. She would be mopping the floors or weeding the garden and I’d be teenaging all around the house, learning Nirvana songs on my acoustic guitar. On a school day, even.

Fucking hell.

Anyhow, this post is about songs that I invariably think about when I visit Los Angeles, California, United States of America, North America, Earth, The Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy, Local Cluster, The Universe. They endear the city to me. Before I went there, everybody was always saying: “Oh, I hate LA, it’s too big, you need a car, etc, etc.” When I first visited to play shows in like 2004 or something, I remained apprehensive. And during subsequent visits, the city in all its vastitude grew on me. I explored and discovered new neighbourhoods, and would be reminded of cultural references made to the city in movies, TV shows and in music. LA is a behemoth, yes, but it can’t be ignored. In my dream life, I spend my winters in Los Angeles.

Beastie Boys. “Do It” from Ill Communication. LA Reference: “Glendale Boulevard / Boulevard! / Glendale Boulevard / that’s where I’m at.” I listened to a lot of Beastie Boys in high school, and for a while really embraced the skateboarding, slacker culture. Surprisingly, I think the self-motivated, slacker attitude is what granted me a certain independence as a teenager, an inspiration that supercharged my creativity, making anything possible. Slackers were, really, the inspired youth of the 90’s. A slacker lifestyle enabled us to *ahem* stick it to the man, as it were. And I strongly encourage outside thinking (inside-out thinking works too) at all times. Laziness and/or apathy, however, are not acceptable.

A Tribe Called Quest. “I Left my Wallet in El Segundo” from People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. LA Reference: Chorus: “I left my wallet in El Segundo / I gotta get it, I got-gotta get it.” I sympatise. El Segundo is out by the airport. Once, I think we had to go there on tour to get our RV fixed. We did not leave our wallets behind.

Beck. “Girl” from Guero. LA Reference: Well, this is a weird one. While it seems the entire video is set in LA, I always mistook the lyrics of the chorus. I remember at the time there was a bit of a debate over what he was saying there, and even all those sketchy lyrics websites still can’t agree. I’ve seen: my summer girl, my sun-eyed girl, my cyanide girl, maizena girl. I always thought he was singing “La Cienega,” like the name of the street in LA. Listening to the song again, I am assured that I am way off. But whenever I see a street sign for La Cienega, I can’t help singing the name to the chorus of this song. And the video is fuggin’ amazing.