Thursday, 31 July 2008

Art Review: House

New works of art are popping up all over the place, from the guerrilla public artwork of the ‘Naughty Spraycan’ Collective to the 150 different statues of dung by 150 different artists, commissioned by the London Arts Council. Tourists and residents alike are finding dung all over the city, and the authorities say it has increased visits to London by 15%.

Toronto art group The Donovan Family have recently completed their new masterpiece, House. This beautifully satirical work replicates an average suburban home in a normal street, complete with car in the driveway, dog in the yard and furniture, paintings on the walls and household cleaning products in the cabinets. The Donovan Family themselves are part of the installation, living in the artwork as if it were their own home.

I visited House on a quiet Saturday afternoon. ‘Mr Donovan’, the group’s patriarch, feigned confusion as to the reason behind my presence at his ‘home’, a touch I found both unsettling and brilliant. It truly evoked the sense of the art experience as a voyeuristic one, as if I was an interloper, spying on the act of creation. Similar responses from ‘Mrs Donovan’ and the group’s two child members, ‘Susie’ and ‘Tommy’, underlined this feeling.

The interior of House is just like any other homestead in any city; in a way, its function is as the archetypal house, the Platonic ideal of the mythic, perfect, idea of a ‘House-as-concept’. Cheap watercolours line the staircase wall, a scathingly brutal comment on the state of the commodification of artistic sentiment. On the other hand, photographic portraits on the living room show the Donovan Family at different points in time – the two parents as young lovers, the family unit at a point when the ‘children’ were young, recent holiday pictures, etc. This timeline of human existence reflects the house (the concept of house) as an object within time, not separate from it. And yet, the appearance of both a calendar and wall-mounted clock in this room root the house in a definite temporal location. This paradox left me both breathless and a little gassy.

The attention to detail in this work of art is awe-inspiring. As I walked around House I looked inside drawers, under beds and behind furniture. Everything was as it would have been, if this was a home owned by the mythical ‘normal’ middle-class family. The drawer beneath the cutlery drawer contains miscellaneous kitchen items such as spatulas and egg-slicers. The space beneath the bed contains dust bunnies and old jigsaw puzzles. There was a mousetrap behind the sofa. And as I found all these little details I still had the four ‘residents’ of the house shouting at me to leave, acting it up for their audience of one. This really gave me the sensation of the artist (or in this case, artists) as reluctant creator, as someone who feels compelled to create without necessarily wanting to create.

After a thorough examination of The Donovans’ House, I felt compelled to leave. Possibly this was due to my growing awkwardness at the feeling of imposition the artwork gave me. Or it could have been because ‘Mister Donovan’ had just pretended to call the police and have me forcibly removed. But either way, I left with a definite sense of aesthetic pleasure. House is a wonderful - and highly recommended – installation that I would implore everyone to see.

House is running for an indefinite period of time at 236 Davidson Avenue, Toronto (two blocks north of Westinghouse and Blanchard). It is free to enter and open 24 hours a day, so long as the Donovan family let you in.

Monday, 28 July 2008

The Imaginary Right to Reply

It’s time for another Imaginary Mailbag! Today, I’m opening the floor to a couple of people who have something to say about specific reviews that I’ve conducted recently. Enjoy.


When I heard that you would be reviewing the latest work by Mister Andrew Swithin, Two Irish Priests and a Transvestite Midget Walk into a Bar…, I was highly excited. Here is a writer whose talents are all too often ignored these days, and I hoped you’re your review would redress the balance. Reading your analysis of the piece, however, left me sorely disappointed. I feel that you have done Mister Swithin a great disservice with your review, and while I don’t doubt that he is more than capable of responding himself, I do not know whether he reads your website. With this in mind I am writing this letter to correct you on a few points, and I hope Andrew will not mind my doing so.

Firstly, I believe that your review is based on a flawed premise, namely that you accuse Two Irish Priests… of attempting – and failing – to work on a meta-humorous level. This, I feel, is incorrect. You compare the work to that of Rodney Ambrose (such as the famed A Punchline and a Set-Up Walk into a Bar…), but I don’t feel this is fair. Two Irish Priests… begins on a meta-meta-humorous level (in a ‘knowing of the knowing of the joke’ sense; c.f.: Etheridge’s A Humorist Walks into a Fourth Wall…), but skips down two levels by the time the punchline arrives. An added layer of humour is derived from this uncomfortable slip through the intra-joke strata, which you fail to recognise in your review.

You also criticise Two Irish Priests… on the basis of its unbelievable premise, again missing the whole point of the piece. The cement that binds the humour and the pathos is the unlikely scenario; without this, the whole thing would fall apart like a poorly made sandcastle. If Swithin had not replaced the traditional bartender with a talking giraffe, the priests, midget and even the mushroom-shaped pints of Guinness would escape their moorings and disappear into the ether before the pay-off would be able to occur. Take DeFalco’s ill-advised Knock Knock/Who’s There?/[Silence] series as an example of when the lack of an unbelievable premise creates a kind of comedic black hole. Anyone experiencing DeFalco’s work suffers such a lack of humour that anything remotely funny in the surrounding area is sucked away and is gone forever. Swithin avoids this with the talking giraffe bartender.

There were many other regretful elements to your review, such as the mistaken application of Fox’s law (which states that level of humour is proportional to the number of porpoises in the work), and your inability to differentiate between the chicken in the Crossing the Road series and the rubber chicken of physical comedy. I hope that future reviews of new works by popular joke-writers are not so poorly done as this.

Regards, etc
Sir Walter Cholmondeley


Your review of my recent feature, The Chronicles of Hornier: Prince Asspian, was grossly unfair. You compare it to Joel Garner’s 2006 film, Butt-Loving Lesbian Love Pile 3, saying that next to this movie, my film is “left wanting, like a nymphomaniac at a eunuch convention.” In defence of my film, Garner was given a large grant by the arts council, while Asspian was wholly self-financed. In outlining the strength of Garner’s casting choices, you neglect to my own discovery of Shia LeBeef, whose career is certainly going to grow in the coming years.

I also take umbrage with your assertion that many of the scenes in Asspian seemed “tacked on”. The scriptwriter and I worked long and hard to create a story that combined exciting action, fluid dialogue and the hottest young starlets sucking and fucking. To suggest that it is “tacked on” for a character to sleep with a faun in order to extract information, or for two characters in the midst of a battle to be overcome with lust and start shagging on the battlefield, is, quite frankly, nonsense. I reject the accusation.

Despite these complaints, I am gratified to acknowledge your praise for the film’s cinematography. The use of such extreme close-ups was a matter of some debate for me, but in the end I feel that they were warranted. I’m pleased that their glistening majesty were appreciated.

I look forward to a more fair and balanced review of my upcoming release, Indiana Slut and the Kingdom of the Crystal Dildoes.


Sir Anthony St John- Headingly

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Film Review: Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Movie

Adaptations of best-selling books are all the rage, with recent examples including Brick Lane, Atonement and College Road Trip. Now, Lynne Truss’s popular Eats, Shoots and Leaves has received the big-screen treatment, and – I’m told – a tie-in video game is not far behind.

Directed by John Woo, Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Movie stars Kate Hudson as Lynne, a young writer and pedant who uncovers a cabal of evil pandas who are plotting to take over the world. The despicable Chinese bears are planning to remove commas, insert apostrophes and place superfluous parentheses in sentences around the world in order to create anarchy and chaos. When the time is right, the pandas will seize the moment and take over the Earth, unless Lynne can stop them.

From start to finish, Eats, Shoots and Leaves is an action-packed cockroar of a film. Some of the scenes in which Lynne and her love interest (played by Shia LeBeouf) are being chased through L.A. by a rogue inessential exclamation mark are stunning examples of high-quality CGI. But this is so much more than a straightforward mindless action flick. Woo has really got the best out of his lead actors, and both Hudson and LeBeouf really convey the fear and confusion that arises when one sees the phrase “Pizza’s” on a restaurant menu. There are times when this film filled me with the same sadness that I felt when I realised my son couldn’t tell the difference between the words “effect” and “affect”.

My main concern with Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Movie is that fans of the book may be disappointed with some of the film’s omissions. While there is an entire chapter of ES&L devoted to text speak, there is nothing on the subject in the film. Several movie websites have speculated that this is due in part to the film’s obvious sponsorship by Motorola (who must have paid for all the film’s characters to be using Motorola cell phones). Whether this is true or not, I can’t say, but it can’t have been too hard for the writers to add a scene in which the pandas say “lol” or “double-you tee eff”.

On the other hand, fans of Lynne Truss’s highly anal book will love the ending. While it would be bad form for me to divulge what happens, I can say that it involves a final answer to the long-standing war between proponents and opponents of the serial comma.

In summary, Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Movie gets lots of stars out of a possible more. If you only see one film this year, you’re an artless philistine who shouldn’t be reading The Imaginary Review. For everyone else, this is a great way to spend a barrel of popcorn.

Eat's: Shoot's; and Leaves's:-:The Movie'll be not unreleased on august Fourth. Do'nt forget to get nacho's & frie'z.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Stalker reviews

Being the brains behind an internationally famous Internet phenomenon, I’ve had more than my fair share of stalkers recently. “What is a fair share of stalkers,” you may ask, and you’d be wrong to do so. Here I will analyse some of the many people who have been through my dustbins in the last year.

Derek is one of the worst stalkers I’ve ever experienced. To start with, Derek rang my doorbell and introduced himself to me, saying “Hello, I’m Derek; I’m your new stalker.” Instead of sitting in the bushes outside my house, he brings a lawn chair to my front garden. He sometimes knocks on my door to see if I want any crisps. But Derek does show some promise: his ability to photograph me as I go about my daily business and then leave it in odd places in my house is uncanny. I think he could be a really good stalker one day.

One day, but not today. He scores three blood and excrement-stained love letters out of ten.

By comparison, Melinda is a great stalker. She’s as mad as a wheelbarrow of squirrels and twice as smelly. This brilliantly offbeat individual is absolutely convinced she and I were once engaged, and haunts my back garden in a wedding dress, weeping softly for a love that once was. The poetry she leaves on the doorstep is genius in its awfulness; a floppy-fringed teenager would be embarrassed to read such trite doggerel. The ubiquitous animal remains that accompany the verse are a great touch. I must admit, Melinda does tend to go a little too far in my opinion (was it really necessary to stab that girl I dated in the hand, Melinda? Really?), but in the end, she’s a solid performer on the creepy stalking stage. Eight blood and excrement-stained love letters out of ten.

Gertie is a mediocre stalker, but she has her good points. She’s immensely inconsistent, and that’s where she fails for me. Consider the fact that she is annoyingly absent on many evenings, but when she is there, her glow-in-the-dark eyes are pant-wettingly terrifying. She leaves dead mice on my doorstep, and I know she killed them herself. But quite often she comes around to my house during the day, looking for food. Honestly, this cat doesn’t know if she’s stalking me, or being neighbourly. Five blood and excrement-stained love letters out of ten.

Finally, the most terrifying stalker of all. Gordon. I’ve never seen Gordon, but I know he’s there. I can sense him, watching me, from the bushes. Did you see that? The bushes…they moved…

It could have been the wind, I guess, but I bet it’s Gordon again. He’s always there when I don’t want him to be there.

He’s never left anything outside my house as far as I know, but I’m still scared. Did I mention the time I thought I saw him on my roof? It was a raccoon, but Gordon could have been hiding behind it.

I hate Gordon. Why won’t he leave me alone? No blood and excrement-stained love letters for him.

This review was inspired by Katrocket’s blog. Thanks for the nightmares, Kat.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

I am going away for a while.

Another blogger (who shall remain Falwless) said some mean things about me this week.

I know I'm not supposed to take it personally, but Goddammit, I'm used to universal praise. I can't take this kind of rejection.

So I've decided to go away for a while. I don't know where I'm going, I guess I'll know when I get there. And if I don't get there, I'll probably just get a beer or something. What I do know is that I won't have any Internet access.

I don't know when I'll be back, but I've future-posted some reviews for next week to keep you going, all those of you who still believe in me, you beautiful, wonderful, misguided fools, you. If you comment on my posts, I won't be able to reply for a while. But with the way I'm feeling, I don't expect anyone to say anything nice, so maybe that's a good thing.

I guess I'll see you all later.


Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The Imaginary Investigative Undercover Review: Saint Manthing’s College for Living Statues

A few weeks ago I was away for some time, neglecting my duties as provider of hilarious reviews with slightly satirical undertones. I did not explain why you were not able to read any new material over that time, but now I can reveal my whereabouts. I was working undercover.

I shall explain. A while ago I was given a very intriguing tip-off by an acquaintance (who shall remain nameless, due to a bureaucratic error at his christening). A new school had just opened in the area, and word on the street was that there was something definitely iffy about it. The place was Saint Manthing’s College for Living Statues, and I decided to join up and analyse it with my critical eye.

My critical eye is my left eye.

Saint Manthing’s is one of those artsy fartsy educational establishments where the teachers wear flared trousers and sit with their chairs the wrong way round so they can lean on the backs. It specialises in preparing people for the cutthroat world of living statue work, training idealistic young people to stand still for extended periods of time. Optional courses are available in tableau vivant, costume design and making sure punters don’t run off with your hard earned cash while you pretend to hold an invisible bow and arrow.

I chose the deliberately-blending-in pseudonym “Katherine auf der Corgan-Hannitty-Colmes” and put my name down for their most expensive course. Once the semester began, I spent my first day in Saint Manthing’s being taught how to buy the relevant course materials, an education that I found both enlightening and stimulating. Apparently I need to hand over the cash and then I get my change. Interesting.

Upon the second day, the course was more as I had expected. My class were shown how to suppress coughs, sneezes, erections (using the ‘Joan Rivers Method’), and the urge to blink. In the afternoon, we practised our new-found techniques by acting as models for the life drawing class in the college next door. Some of my fellow students were a little bashful about taking off their clothes, but being a lithe Adonis, I jumped at the chance for some legal public nudity. So far, all seemed well.

Homework for the evening was standing still for an hour. I cheated, and only did 45 minutes. Somehow, the teachers knew and I was marked down for it.

Day 2 of my Training, and my skills are coming along nicely. Note the excellent paint job I did on myself.

On the third day of my tutorage, everyone in my class was shown a special ‘lying down’ position. This lesson was particularly memorable in that it marked the first time we were given props; most of us were handed rifles or guns of some sort, and the tips on handling the weapon authentically were invaluable. We were told that this pose was very popular in Eastern European Living Statue Festivals, and that this would be where we’d be making a lot of our money. So far, so good. The training was exceptional, and nothing suspicious had occurred at all. I was beginning to think my friend had given me some duff information.

For another week, our classes were inoffensive enough, with lessons in art history, balancing on one leg and target practice. We were taught meditation and breathing control, both of which are essential to being a good living statue. I must add a moment of personal pride here: I came in top of my class in a game called ‘Spot the Enemy Combatant’, which was a bit like “Where’s Wally?” (or, as people in the former colonies know it, “Where’s Waldo?”), but with camouflage gear. Things were going well.

Later in the month we had a careers fair, which also had nothing to arouse my suspicions. I spoke to unoriginal contemporary artists who were looking to hire living statues for exhibitions that would “subvert the traditional view of sculpture as a static, inert medium”. There were also hidden camera TV shows that were looking for living statues that could surprise old ladies who happened to be walking by. As well as these people, the fair had representatives from circuses, arts fairs, the marines and busking festivals. I got some good contacts here, should my imaginary reviewing stop paying the bills!

And so, after a month of training to be a living statue at Saint Manthing’s College, I have to say that this is a wonderful establishment with a top-class pedigree in preparing ordinary people for the lucrative and rewarding career of being a living statue. I’ve met some interesting people and made lots of new friends, from the other students to the staff, like Ms. Schnauzer and Commander Lewis.

To top all this off, I’ve been selected to take part in a student exchange, which starts tomorrow! So you may not hear from me for a while, as I’ll be putting all my ‘remaining incredibly still’ skills to the test in Iraq! They’ve even given me a commemorative rifle to thank me for my participation! They tell me that most of my time in Iraq will be spent lying down, which I can hardly complain about. How’s that for an ideal job, folks?

In summary, then, Saint Manthing’s College for Living Statues (co-owned by the American Military) is highly recommended!

Day 5: I am ready for my Living Statue assignment in Iraq.

Monday, 14 July 2008


In my honest, yet immaculately-attired opinion, horoscope columns are a load of bunk, just like any other astrological pagan nonsense. The only star that has any bearing on my life is our own yellow Sun, which grants me my Superman-of-Reviewing powers and wakes me up when it’s time for elevenses. As far as I’m concerned, having Saturn in my ascendance isn’t going to affect the number of rejection letters I get from national publications, or whether people know what I mean when I use the word ‘elevenses’. But I wouldn’t be the Imaginary Reviewer if I didn’t investigate things with strict impartiality, so I will put all these feelings to one side when I conduct this comparative review of different horoscopes.

I chose several journals at random and noted down the horoscopes that lay within them. This approach rendered paying for the magazines unnecessary, and meant that I didn’t have to spend any time in the library, which smells of old people. I then compared the horoscopes with the actual events that occurred in that week. Here are my results.

Firstly, the horoscopes in The Weekly Panflute were nothing short of awful. Mine read (and I quote): “Beware of strangers bearing gifts this week, as they will all turn out to be false. An encounter with an old friend will reap big rewards in your love life.”

So, firstly, the comment about “all” the strangers bearing gifts was flawed, as only one hitherto-unknown person offered me anything. It was a man outside a bakery who was giving away small pieces of pie. Monty, the Imaginary Son, took one (his horoscope said nothing about gifts), and told me it was a highly delicious pastry. Chalk one failure to the bastard horoscope writer, who cost me a piece of pie.

The second part of the Panflute’s horoscope – “An encounter with an old friend will reap big rewards in your love life” - is not one I want to go into (and even if I wanted to, I am forbidden to do so by law). However, I will say this: If by “Big rewards in [my] love life”, the writer meant “divorce proceedings”, then it was accurate. Otherwise, nada.

Now Toronto Magazine’s horoscope looks like this: “Duh duh duh. I’m a Now Toronto writer. Duh Duh Duh. I can’t write. Duh duh duh. I smell.”

Another magazine with an inaccurate horoscope prediction was the Ontario Sentinel (incorporating the Ontario Mallard). Their prognostication was that all Aquarians (such as myself) would encounter a Level 10 warlock king with 2300 hit points, high resistance to elemental fire attacks and a weakness to lightning attacks. Suffice to say, the only creature from a forbidden realm that I met this week was Dandrax, a fifth-level elfin priest. I had to resort to using my Blade of Advancement (+5 to Power, +10 to Stamina, -5 to Sass), and cursed the horoscope throughout the battle. Ontario Sentinel: You fail.

One of the horoscope columns was quite accurate, I have to admit. It appeared in Canadian Dullard. I was told the following: “Today you will read a horoscope page. As Jupiter is in Sagittarius, I predict a lunch for you. An unexpected event will occur at some point. If your birthday is this week: There could be a party on the horizon.”

I can’t believe how accurate this horoscope was. It’s like it was tailored for me. Canadian Dullard’s horoscope writer Psychic Steve scores many points for his brilliant predictions.

Finally, What Fishtank? Magazine’s horoscope page was highly interesting, but I could give it no points for accuracy. However, it was only later that I realised I had copied out the magazine’s contents page by accident, so it was no wonder that it was so astrologically unsatisfying.

Friday, 11 July 2008

The Imaginary Peer Review: An Empirical Enquiry into Sleeping with Your Mum by Professor Gerald P. Higginbotham

An Empirical Enquiry into Sleeping with Your Mum by Professor Gerald P. Higginbotham

Six years ago, Professor Gerald P. Higginbotham published the now famous paper, The Effect of Lepton Dispersal on T-Wave Synthesis Cromulation. Hailed for its erudite thought, commonsense ideas and brevity, the paper won the highly coveted A. M. Kenyon Award for Excellence in Scientific Writing. Professor Higginbotham’s subsequent paper, Quantum Mists Versus Neumann Clouds: A Neurophysiological Approach to the Discussion, was less well received, and the eminent scholar’s arguments were roundly dismissed by the Physical Science establishment. Disappearing from the scientific stage for several years, Professor Higginbotham has sensationally returned with a new paper and a new direction for his studies. An Empirical Enquiry into Sleeping with Your Mum shows Higginbotham at his most inventive, yet, conversely, his most infuriatingly obtuse.

Higginbotham begins with a brief discussion of the few papers already existing in this burgeoning field. J. H. Simcoe’s 1996 essay, The Chronic Ill Health of Schrödinger’s Cat: How it Could Improve by Sleeping with Sandra Watkins, is covered, as is the little known The Effects of Polonium on the Simultaneous Orgasm by Marie and Pierre Curie. This section is insubstantial, yet works well as a prelude to the experiment to come. The author also uses the introduction to detail some of the existing information and assumptions relating to Your Mum, namely that she is ‘well easy’, ‘a bit rough’ and ‘gagging for it’. Here, Higginbotham shows his infuriating lack of respect for his audience by neglecting to inform us of his sources. I have searched and searched, but I have been unable to find any evidence to confirm his assertions.

In the methodology section of the paper, Higginbotham lets himself down with some poorly-outlined procedures for the experiment. I will quote a pertinent section:

“Persuading Your Mum to sleep with me was particularly easy, easier than I
expected. I intended to buy her some drinks but she didn’t even need them. She
was incredibly eager to take me back to her apartment, where I boffed her, and I
boffed her good. Oh yeah.”

What drinks did Higginbotham intend to buy Your Mum? Where was her apartment? Alas, these details are lost to the ages, all due to Higginbotham’s lack of presence of mind to tell us.

But it is in Higginbotham’s analysis where he lets himself down the most. They don’t follow on from his experimental results, and they are written in a style that does not befit a scientific investigation of this sort. Is Your Mum really as “loose” and “crap in bed” as the good Professor asserts? How do these facts follow on from the details offered in his results section? He makes no mention of “looseness” in the results. “Dryness,” “Number of bags over the head to make her palatable” and “stench” all appear in different tables and graphs in the results section, but are not referred to again. How they related to the overall conclusions is not elucidated.

One of Higginbotham's many graphs. From this he concludes that Your Mum is both maximally stinky and promiscuous. His methods for arriving at this information are not given.

I can’t see An Empirical Enquiry into Sleeping with Your Mum setting the scientific world on fire, mostly because Professor Higginbotham seems to have forgotten everything he learned in university. It is the kind of paper one might expect from an ill-educated schoolchild, certainly not from an award-winning scientific genius. Certainly, more sleeping with Your Mum is required before we are going to be able to say anything concrete on this subject.

In closing, however, I can say with certainty that Higginbotham’s Mum is a very crap lay, as I have had her several times. I even had her last night. She loved it.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Spoonsfest 08

One of the many Spoonsfest Performers, rocking out like a bitch.

The first week in July is the biggest date in the Toronto musical calendar for many people. Music lovers from all over the world converge in the city, forcing the closure of roads, shops and some brothels. And the reason for this mass migration? Spoonsfest.

Now in its seventeenth year, Spoonsfest brings the best in the world’s spoons players to Toronto, where they wow the crowds with their cutlery-assisted rhythms. All of your favourite spoons players were here this year: ‘Bubonic’ Pete, The Relevant Sisters, Simon ‘S.Poon’ Poon, ‘Old’ Bob ‘Cataracty’ Smith and, of course, the world Spoon-playing champion, Jeremiah ‘Eager’ Beaver. Plus, as well as more than one hundred acts playing across seven venues, city-wide, there were workshops, stalls and spoons-related media to enjoy as well. Spoonsfest 2008 really was the biggest Spoons-specific music festival since the much-missed Spoonapolooza festival in California.

This year, the organisers of Spoonsfest did their best to put the unpleasant memories of last year behind them. Many precautions were made to prevent the running battles between the rival factions of the spoon-playing world that plagued the 2007 festival, including banning members of the ultra-hardcore PunkSpoon Organisation. Also, there was more segregation between wooden and metal spoon acts, forcing extreme fans of each spoon-playing method to spend more time apart. Thankfully these precautions seemed to work, and I witnessed no violent spoon attacks.

Because of the sheer size of Spoonsfest, It was impossible to catch all the acts, but The Imaginary Review strived to see as much musical ladle action as possible. My favourite act was up and coming spoon heart-throbs, Born with a Silver, who attracted the biggest crowds of screaming teenagers (and also, therefore, dodgy old men in long overcoats) to the Main Stage. The three spoon prodigy siblings gave a fantastic display of percussive cutlery prowess, even throwing in some covers to their own tunes. Most impressive was their rocking spoony version of Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun. Superb.

Christian spoon-playing band Ladling His Love (in the Degrassi Junior High Tent) were terrible. I’m sorry, but it’s very difficult to render songs of praise in spoon form, no matter how hard you try, and LHL just weren’t up to the task. It was a relief to the whole crowd when their lead spooner was decapitated by a stray pigeon.

As I wandered around the festival, it really did occur to me that Spoonsfest has become far too commercialised, with every major corporation from Williams-Sonoma to the Scientologists trying to jump on the spoon bandwagon with a tent or promotional trailer. Many of the older spoons fans that I talked to were quite angry that the festival they’ve patronised since 1991 has abandoned them in search of new, younger fans. Mary, a dowdy spinster from Hamilton, ON, told me that in her opinion, half of the acts here this year weren’t even true spoon players!

While I’m not sure I agree with Dowdy old Mary, there were far too many tenuous spoon-related diversions at the festival this year. Experimental artist Ryota Ando had a performance on the main stage, in which he gently spooned members of the audience for half an hour. While technically ‘spooning’, this was hardly appropriate for a music festival.

But then, how can I complain when headliner Spoonman Dave was here, playing all of his fantastic hits in a three-hour set on the Main Stage? Guitarist Jimmy Page even joined him on stage for a few songs; such was the pull of this legend of spoons. And I doubt anyone who saw German Spoon Techno Pioneers Kraftspön left the Bryan’s Brilliant Borscht Tent disappointed. Their new, self-created electronic spoon instruments were as nice-sounding as they were intriguing.

Of course, with a festival of this standing and magnitude, not everyone will be pleased, but I doubt anyone but the most jaded spoon classicist would have been unhappy with this year’s festival. All in all, I had a great time at Spoonsfest 08, and can’t wait for next year!

Spoons are dangerous weapons. Please do not try to play them without the supervision of a qualified instructor or YOU WILL DIE.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Special Assassin Round-up

The killer-for-hire market is absolutely saturated these days, which is great news for the customer. With never-before-seen offers advertised by some top-quality killers, there’s never been a better time to have your mortal enemy found by their neighbour in several pieces in the car port. But while there are many reputable contract killers out there offering a reliable (and well-priced) service, there are just as many cowboy assassins doing a bad job and putting you in danger of detection by the authorities. Just who can you trust? I investigated, and investigated hard.

Peaches LaRue has been offering a discounted service for some years now, and comes highly recommended by a number of evil supervillains. She’s as attractive as she is deadly, but don’t be distracted by the swimsuit! I paid her to dispose of my former English teacher, a man who once gave me a detention after catching me smoking. (I was in bed with his wife at the time, but that shouldn’t matter.) In any case, Peaches got the job done in her trademark style, strangling him with her thighs and leaving the police with no incriminating fingerprints to speak of. Her prices are very fair, and she even offers a discount to customers who can provide her with the use of a Jacuzzi. She scores eight Steel-Rimmed Bowler Hats out of a possible ten.

Danny’s Deadly Dojo is currently offering a special walk-in deal. For less than fifty dollars, the students there will kill anyone for you within the week. The students have quite a bit of experience in getting rid of one’s enemies, but really, you get what you pay for here. Some of the students can be a little clumsy, so don’t expect a totally clean job. Even so, they can’t be beaten on price. Five steel-rimmed bowler hats.

For over ten years, the enigmatically-named Noel has been a reliable hit man, but I’ve been hearing rumours that he has been going soft in recent times. A quick phone call confirms this. Apparently he’s looking after a young female orphan now, and won’t take on any new jobs unless the client covers her insurance as well as Noel’s. This extra expenditure adds unnecessary money to an already pricey assassin, and while Noel gets the job done, there are many killers who do as good a job for a fraction of the price. Three steel-rimmed bowler hats.

Finally, I have to comment on the assassin known as “Metalface”. This steel-jawed behemoth has been trying to kill me for a few months now, hired – I suspect – by a group of small hat enthusiasts after some negative publicity they received at my hands. Metalface has been a bit of a thorn in my side, but I’ve managed to evade him quite well. Hear that, Small Hats (Incorporating Trilbies) Society? I will not be defeated! Bwah ha ha ha! No steel-rimmed bowler hats for Metalface! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Friday, 4 July 2008

Restaurant Review: The Best of All Possible Meals

The Best of All Possible Meals is the latest themed restaurant to hit the World dining scene, garnering huge swathes of column inches in the weekend broadsheets. With an interior designed by up and coming architectural collective ‘Pörn’ and a menu full of creations by top chef GastroKeith, The Best of All Possible Meals has the gimmick of being the first philosophically-themed restaurant in the world. I went along to see if I could find the meaning of life lurking somewhere in my soup.

The décor of the establishment is superb, with busts and portraits of popular philosophers lining the walls. Whether you’re into Stoicism or Contemporary Post-Structuralism, you’re sure to find all of your favourites somewhere in the dining room. My waiter for the day, who introduced himself as Immanuel, showed my partner and I to our seats at a Wittgensteinian Truth Table, and asked if we would like our menus in rational or empirical form. I chose the former option while my partner opted for the latter, and for anyone thinking of eating at the restaurant I can only recommend that you also go for the empirical menu. My choice of a rationalist menu meant that it was assumed that I had an innate knowledge of its contents, meaning that I didn’t receive one. Luckily I was able to share my partner’s.

Our Waiter for the day, Immanuel

Incidentally, for those who don’t wish to be sat at one of the Truth Tables, there are private rooms available on request. These ‘Sartre Rooms’ are especially for those who think that “Hell is other people”.

While there are several set menus to choose from, there are also many things of interest on the A la Descartes menu, and it was from here where the two of us ate. For our appetizers, I decided to have the Leibnizian monad salad, while my partner went for Nietzsche’s Uberminestrone Soup. The salad was good, though there definitely wasn’t enough of it. Conversely, while plentiful, the Nietzschian soup was a little hard to swallow.

I had heard good things about the Platonic Chicken, and so ordered that as my entrée. It was absolutely superb: moist, tasty, done to perfection and with an exquisite selection of vegetables. I can say without fear of exaggeration that this is the best chicken I have had in my life. It was, as far as I can see, the ideal form of chicken, the chicken to which all other chickens must aspire. I now know that I will never eat another chicken so long as I live, as nothing will ever live up to Platonic Chicken here at The Best of All Possible Meals.

My partner, on the other hand, was not so lucky in her choice of entrée. She went for a Hume-inspired dish consisting of duck with mashed potatoes and green beans. She enjoyed the side dishes, but wasn’t overly keen on the meat itself. She called it ‘Hume’s Problem of In-duck-tive Seasoning’. I tasted some for myself and she was right; it was far too salty.

For dessert, I treated myself to an Ontological Banana Split. I don’t see how I couldn’t; its very existence on the menu meant that I had no other option but to conclude it delicious. My partner decided to go for the Gödel Cheese Plate, but we couldn’t get our heads around it. For some reason it contained every single cheese in existence, but by doing so, proved that no cheese plate would ever contain a set of all cheeses. It felt wrong to eat any of it, and so it was returned to the kitchens untouched.

We finished our meals with a couple of cocktails, and while I enjoyed my Locke on the Rocks, here I must again make a warning to the potential BoAPM customer. The Socrates Sling, a drink that contains a mysterious ‘secret ingredient’, prompted my partner to feel quite ill, and a while after our meal had ended, she succumbed to her sickness. The inquest suggested she had suffered from hemlock poisoning. Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend anyone try that particular drink themselves.

All in all, The Best of All Possible Meals is a fairly decent establishment, with some poor dishes made up for by the wonderful Platonic Chicken. I would have liked to have finished this review with a conclusion, but this is philosophy, and it would only be proved wrong in a matter of months.

For more Philosophically-inspired cuisine, please look out for the forthcoming restaurant by John Searle, The Chinese Food Argument.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Music Documentary Review - VH1's F Sharp Minor: Behind the Music

Next week, VH1 will broadcast their long-awaited music documentary, F Sharp Minor: Behind the Music. It spans the more than fifty years that the chord has been in the music industry, and features interviews with musicians, colleagues and friends of the popular artist, as well as F Sharp Minor himself. I was granted a sneak peek at the program after befriending a gullible cameraman.

To convey the wealth and scope of F Sharp Minor’s career is a daunting task, but one which the documentary’s makers have succeeding in doing. Archive footage shows early appearances by the chord in songs by skiffle band Ernie and the Milkmen, though one would be hard pressed to recognise the chord we all know and love today. F Sharp Minor talks at length about the difficulty he faced in those early days, and the hardships he suffered from living in the shadow of his elder – and more commonly used - brother, F Sharp. It is here that we see a far more raw, human side of the chord, as he thanks the God of Music that he didn’t suffer the same fate as B Suspended 7, a chord who disappeared in the late 1950s and hasn’t been seen since.

Famous fans of F Sharp Minor are interviewed, including such long-time collaborators as Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and Brian Wilson. And while the documentary could have descended into a sycophantic love-in, dissenting voices are also given some airtime, including that of Keith Richards. The Rolling Stones guitarist still feels resentment towards F Sharp Minor after the chord was heard on the Beatles’ Revolver album at a time when he had promised Richards his exclusive use. Lou Reed also talks disparagingly of the chord, something that F Sharp Minor puts down to “a misunderstanding over some stolen ham.”

Witnessing the development of F Sharp Minor as an artist over the years is a treat, and from his tripped-out psychedelic days of the sixties to his reverence at the hands of late-90s Britpop artists like Oasis and Blur, VH1 show us the story of a chord who has moved with the times in a way few other collections of notes have.

My one complaint with the documentary, however, is the glossing over of several more embarrassing moments in F Sharp Minor’s career. A collaboration with Kriss Kross in 1991 is mentioned, but nothing more is said. Several appearances on Tatu’s 2002 album 200 Km/h in the Wrong Lane are also alluded to, but we are told no more. The chord’s unfortunate arrest in 1973 for transporting a minor over state lines is sadly absent from the film.

Such omissions notwithstanding, VH1 have put together a thoroughly enjoyable look into the life and career of one of rock’s greatest chords, and they are to be commended. I look forward to seeing their forthcoming documentary, Eight Bar Drum Intro: Behind the Music.

F Sharp Minor: Behind the Music will be shown at 8:00 on VH1 on Wednesday week. It’s on at the same time as Lost, so you might want to record it and watch it later.