Category Archives: popular culture

It’s alive. IT’S ALIVE!

Here’s one way to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1818: I’m delighted to announce the publication of my new book The Medium Is the Monster: Canadian Adaptations of Frankenstein and the Discourse of Technology. It’s published by Athabasca University Press, and it’s available in hardcover, paperback, and open-access PDF.

To order, see Indigo, Amazon, or UBC Press (AUP’s distributor).

To read the open-access PDF, see AU Press’ webpage for the book and click the Free PDF tab.

Briefly, the book argues, first, that Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein effectively reinvented the meaning of the word “technology” for modern English; and, second, that Marshall McLuhan’s media theory and its adaptations in Canadian pop culture (by icons like David Cronenberg, William Gibson, Margaret Atwood, and Deadmau5) have popularized this Frankensteinian sense of technology.

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The Medium Is The Monster Mix

At Mixcloud, I’ve shared a mix that’s a sonic supplement to my book The Medium Is the Monster (Athabasca University Press, 2018).

The songs and tracks mixed here all adapt Frankenstein and are discussed as such in the book. The mix follows approximately the same sequence as the book, progressing from chapter to chapter, featuring the specific songs mentioned in each. The early chapters discuss hip hop, reggae, funk, and Afro-Futurist music (e.g. Maestro Fresh Wes, Dr Octagon, Janelle Monáe); the seventh chapter focuses on EDM (e.g. Deadmau5 and The Paladin Project). The mix also includes some alternative rock, folk, and country songs (e.g. Iggy & The Stooges, Neil Young, Corb Lund). Overall, most of the content is Canadian, given the focus of the book.

Here’s a complete track list, too (since Mixcloud only reveals the track list during playback).

Introduction

  • Jon Stewart & Samantha Bee, The Daily Show, 10 Feb. 2009 (sample) 00:00

Chapter 1

  • Eric B & Rakim, “Paid in full” (seven minutes of music – the Coldcut remix) 00:36

Chapter 2

  • Dr Octagon (aka Kool Keith), “Real raw” 04:08
  • Janelle Monáe, “Good morning midnight” (interlude) 06:04
  • Janelle Monáe, “Dance or die” 07:24
  • Wolfgang Rübsam & Capella Istropolitana, Toccato and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach 10:37
  • Bobby “Boris” Pickett & the Cryptkickers, “The Monster Mash” (sample) 13:18
  • Dr Octagon (aka Kool Keith), “Wild and crazy” 13:33
  • Madness, “One step beyond” (sample) 17:35
  • Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, “Frankenstein ska” 17:54
  • Parliament, “Prelude to The Clones of Dr Funkenstein” 20:27
  • Parliament, “Dr Funkenstein” 22:05
  • Armand van Helden, “Witch Doktor” 27:44
  • Michael Jackson feat. Vincent Price, “Thriller” 32:01
  • Rockwell feat. Michael Jackson, “Somebody’s watching me” 37:03
  • Maestro Fresh Wes, “Let your backbone slide” 40:38
  • Handsome Boy Modeling School feat. Grand Puba & Sadat X, “Once Again (Here To Kick One For You)” 45:01
  • Ice Cube, “Dr Frankenstein” 48:47

Chapter 4

  • Iggy & The Stooges, “Search and destroy” 52:55

Chapter 5

  • Skinny Puppy, “Draining faces” 56:20
  • Front 242, “Masterhit” 1:01:06
  • Messiah, “Beyond good and evil” 1:07:53
  • Messiah, “You’re going insane” 1:12:40
  • DJ Luna-C, “Mind of a lunatic” 1:15:34
  • Ed Brown, “Industrial” (P.B.K. remix) 1:21:14
  • Neuromancer, “Pennywise” 1:26:15
  • Wippenberg, “Neurodancer” 1:29:49

Chapter 7

  • Foremost Poets, “Moon-raker” (Paladin mix) (sample) 1:33:49
  • Brainbug, “Nightmare” (Sinister strings mix) 1:34:11
  • The Paladin Project, “The panic room / Claustrophobia” 1:40:42
  • The Paladin Project, “The Palloween anthem” 1:45:50
  • The Paladin Project, “Darkness took me” 1:50:17
  • The Paladin Project, “Afraid of the dark” 1:53:30
  • Deadmau5, “Cthulhu sleeps” 1:56:01
  • Deadmau5, “Dr Funkenstein” 2:01:11
  • Deadmau5, “Dr Funkenstein” (Sage remix) 2:03:36
  • Deadmau5, “Dr Funkenstein” (Zoltan Kontes & Jerome Robins stripped mix) 2:05:30
  • Deadmau5, “Dr Funkenstein” (Danny Jay remix) 2:07:53
  • Deadmau5, “Complications” 2:12:19
  • Deadmau5, “Ghosts ‘n’ stuff” 2:14:35
  • Deadmau5, “Moar ghosts ‘n’ stuff” 2:19:22
  • Deadmau5 feat. Chris James, “The Veldt” 2:23:39

Chapter 8

  • Neil Young, “Vampire blues” 2:33:48
  • Corb Lund, “Roughest neck around” 2:37:48
  • Corb Lund, “Gettin’ down on the mountain” 2:40:50

Rock & Romanticism & Nick Cave & Palgrave

James Rovira’s just-published book, Rock and Romanticism: Postpunk, Goth, and Metal as Dark Romanticisms (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), includes my chapter “‘Little crimeworn histories’: Nick Cave and the roots-raves-rehab story of rock stardom.” (That chapter’s a full treatment of an inkling I first shared here nearly a decade ago.)

Rovira’s book is also accompanied by its own iTunes playlist that I was happy to help build and curate (and, in the process, encounter some great music I’d not previously known about); and the editor’s also got a whole blog post with listening samples and other links related to topics covered in the book.

For my part, I’ll just leave here a link to the video for the song that my chapter takes its title from: the exhilaratingly evil, deliriously demonic “Deanna”:

 

Link

“Happy Birthday, Frankenstein!”

Athabasca University Press’ Open Book Blog has a new post about the Frankenstein bicentennial: “Happy Birthday, Frankenstein!” 
The post curates a sampling of links to just a few of the Canadian Frankenstein adaptations discussed in my book #TheMediumIsTheMonster: from Larissa Lai’s writing and Matt MacFadzean’s playwriting, to the music of Deadmau5 and more.

This blog posts makes a great multimedia supplement to the book, for readers who may not know of some of these works.

New poem in Toronto’s Into The Void Magazine

My poem “Heaven help the roses” — about Toronto’s famous Peace Lady, a.k.a. Pauline Davis — has placed as Runner-Up in Into The Void Magazine’s 2017 Poetry Contest. The complete poem is published at Into The Void‘s webpage featuring all contest winners (scroll down to the Runners Up section…but read the other winners too!).

It’s been almost one year since Davis died, and many more since she had stopped her public work towards the cause of peace, which remains as timely as ever (sadly). While I had hoped to get this poem published in Davis’ lifetime, I’m pleased it’s found a home with a Toronto magazine, since the Peace Lady is such a Toronto phenomenon — although her message is universal, and still urgent.

 

#TheMediumIsTheMonster: forthcoming April 2018

when the designer of your book’s cover (detail shown here) knocks it out of the park on the first try.
#TheMediumIsTheMonster: forthcoming April 2018 from @au_press.

Stephen Harper as Killer Robot

“Stephen Harper as Killer Robot” is my new article in English Studies in Canada‘s just-published special issue on the automated body.

shaskillbot-screenshotWhile an article about Harper might seem like a political postmortem, the former prime minister’s popular caricature as a robot speaks to widespread fears about the implications of technology for democracy. These alarming implications have been analyzed recently in tech CEO Berit Anderson’s article “The rise of the weaponized AI propaganda machine.” Anderson’s article is a must-read for appreciating the extent to which digital technology now poses a real and present threat to democracy. Anderson’s article sort of picks up — and dives in — where mine leaves off, as a discussion of how that threat has been growing in Canada for some time now.

jffg3

Stencil by “myheadhurtsalot” (https://i.imgur.com/JFfG3.png). My thanks to this Redditor for their permission to reprint their image in my article.

“Stephen Harper as Killer Robot” is currently available online via the Project Muse database, but ESC‘s decent open access policy means the article will be publicly available soon, in 6 months to a year (that’s soonish, for academia). But in the meantime, if you want a copy and can’t access Project Muse, leave a comment below, or send me an e-mail at academicalism[at]gmail[dot]com.