Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Buttah...

An Amateur Review of Musical Greatness

I'd like to state for the record that a) I am not a musician, b) I cannot carry a tune, and c) my dance moves are often questionable. But trust me when I say that I know good music when I hear it. And for the past 5 days I've been hearing it. The source of my musical epiphany comes from the direction of one of the greatest bands of all time - U2. That's right folks, they're still around, they're still effing awesome, and they've got a new CD to prove it.

If I had to describe U2's 12th studio album No Line on the Horizon in one word I would say buttah. Weird, I know. But think about it. Buttah. It's warm, it drips, and it oozes all over. Can you see it now? Drip. Drip. It drips heavy bass. Slowly it works it's way down into your stomach, coating and spreading - like that Pepto commercial.

The first song, No line on the Horizon. It gets you movin and brings a smile to your lips. A first taste if you will. Must. have. more. And then, everything about song #3 Moment of Surrender is an emotion-packed journey. From the funky little drum-beat up front coupled with some soulful lyrics, to that sexy bass sound that makes the upper abdominals clinch like they've been punched. My lack of musical inclination makes me painfully aware of my lack of musical vocab. Towards the end of this ballad you get all warm and fuzzy-like, and everything is electric-sounding. It makes me squinch my eyes tight in a good way as he sings:

I was speeding off the subway
Through the stations of the cross

Every eye looking every other way

Counting down till the pain will stop


At the moment of surrender

A vision of a visibility

I did not notice the passers by

And they did not notice me


Unknown Caller's got this crazy little guitar beat in the beginning and then manages to go out with a hymnal-like piece. And then, Get on Your Boots gets my head bobbing back and forth and in a circular motion. That one took a little time but it now vibrates out my fingers and toes. The album works its way through your system, like I said, dripping. Bono's voice is hauntingly rich and so much of the music is comfortingly reminiscent of Joshua Tree and Achtung while surprisingly fresh a la' All That You Can't Leave Behind. By Cedars of Lebanon I'm mentally in fetal - again, in a good way.

This is their 12th studio album and it's been almost 5 years since How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. I gotta say I was nervous. But in true U2 fashion, they totally delivered. They totally showed up. Current. Thought-provoking. Foot-stomping. Idealistic . True.

That's all I got.

PS - I've listened to it 100 times in the last 5 days. It's good. Trust me on this.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lost S5:8 - Rewind

LaFleur - C
Sigh. Besides the fact that his eyes are shut, what else is wrong with this picture?
Within the first five minutes of the 8th episode of the fifth season, I was bored. Bor-red. What's wrong with this picture is that it that it had the exact opposite reaction on me than I think the writers originally intended. My (spoiler free) shock meter barely registered a blip during the entire 60 minutes and I found myself insulted. Downright insulted I tell ya. Unlike many of my friends, I felt that this episode had few reveals and set us up for a bad season of That 70's Show, the Dharma Years.

Here's what we(I) learned:

1. Meet Jim LaFleur. AKA: Sawyer. Bad-ass brooding Lostie turned Dharma jumpsuit wearing sensitive guy. Were any of you as unmoved as me when he went scurrying over that well wall only to be met abruptly by THE GROUND. Nice try Jim. Locke is so long gone he's already back. But 'e' for effort big guy.

2. And what's wrong with this picture my little Lostaritos? No, don't guess. I'll tell you. 3 years later and 30 years into the past, Juliet is a mechanic ya'll. A. Mechanic. But wait! After she changes your oil she will deliver your baby!
Speaking of which, at some point babies could be born on the island. This must have been before 'the incident'. Because after that, not even Juliet could birth no baby. Except Danielle. Oh, and Claire. Huh.

3. Hooked on Phonics worked for Jin.

4. Horace liked to indulge in the spirits. To the point of becoming unconscious and snoozing through the birth of his first child. His wife was still in love with her fist husband - who was killed by 'the hostiles' - and he (Horace) had a healthy fear of our loverly lashed Richard Alpert.

5. Gasp. This 1/3 glimpse of the 4-toed statue I think registered the biggest blip on my excite-o-meter and that's not saying much. For some serious statue related theories click here. We learned nothing from this screen cap. Nada. Nine. Noola. Best bet is Egyptian origin - red hieroglyphs on the countdown clock anyone? Anyone?

6. Bodies had to be buried, and quickly. Team Darlton was trying to tell us something when Amy insisted that the 2 Hostiles that killed her beloved Paul had to be buried. Like right then and there. This scene made us think back to the surprising deaths and odd burials of Russeau and Karl last season. That's all I got.

7. Jim and Juliet like, love each other. Great. Good for both of them. I applaud them in their ability to let go of the past and decide to be happy in the present. I mean the past. I mean the past-present. Whatever. Finally we get to see triangle-quadrangle free love. Uncomplicated and real...

8. Oh wait. Never mind. So much for her 'forgettable' face.

9. Jim LeFleur reveals his true petals - to Alpert. Confesses is more like it and he even name drops Locke while he's at it. No wonder the 2004 others revere John as such a god. His appearance was predicted for 50 years like he was the second coming or something. Suddenly his rock star status starts to make sense.

10. You can't change the past, Daniel said it himself. A touching little moment when he caught sight of tiny little red-headed Charlotte, running around alive as could be in Dharmaville. How much you wanna bet that he resists the urge to make contact with her for as long as possible, but in a last-ditch 'eff it' move, he grabs little unknowing Charlottte fiercely by the shoulders and angrily insists that should she ever return to the island SHE. WILL. DIE.

11. Thanks to my finely tuned all-things-Egypt radar I was quick to spot that Paul wore an Ankh around his neck and the ankh is the Egyptian hieroglyph for eternal life. Yes Darlton, we're paying attention.

See what I mean folks? Honestly, were any of you that wowed by any of the above? Seriously? Mostly below-par reveals with lots of filler dialogue and I really don't care that much that they're in the 70's. Here's hoping Smokie gets some camera time soon and bring on the Sun-Jin reunion!

Until then we gotta ask...
1. What did the Hostiles want with Paul's body?
2. How do those pesky Hostiles make it through the sonic fence when the likes of Smokie cannot?

3. Where the hell is Sun?

4. Who does Amy's baby grow up to be? And before you suggest Karl, consider that that would have made 2004 Karl 30. And 30 he clearly was not.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Looking for Zen

Zen: a Japanese form of Buddhism that concentrates on learning through meditation and intuition.

About 2 months ago my fun friend Justin informed me of a Zen Meditation 101 workshop that was coming up and I thought Perfect. That's just what I need. Seriously. God (or Buddha) knows I could use a little Zen in my life. So the plans were mad and we were on our quest for Zen.

The day had finally arrived, I was crazy busy at work on Saturday with all things Doctor Noize and that damn song Dragons, Dragons, Dragons Licking Lollipops was in my head. I thought if nothing could get that song out of my head, the highly anticipated workshop could. I couldn't wait. Glancing down at my watch (still on Hawaii time - can't figure the darn thing out so I had to do the math) I informed Sean that I had to split:

me: Oh, gotta run. I have a meditation workshop to get to.
Sean:
Why, are you Buddhist?
me:
No, Catholic.
Sean:
What did you give up for Lent?
me: Nothing, I'm non-practicing Catholic.

A can of worms. To be or not to be... If I typed and debated with me, we'd all falla sleep. Where to begin with my hard-core-Catholic-with-a-touch-of-Krishna-and-a-splash-of-Presbyterian upbringing? I'll save it for a rainy day post. Sticking to the mission at hand I got to The Zen Center just in time. I arrived at a dilapidated old 2-story house with broken windows on the top floor. Humble. Basic. This must be the place, I thought. As I type I search my soul in an attempt to give proper credence to the afternoon spent in that place.

Hello, my name is (_________) and I'm here because I (___________).

Justin and I were greeted by an old bearded man with a self-proclaimed 'hearing disease'. In the next 4 hours we would learn that he'd also had a kidney transplant 25 years ago, had a distended stomach, a bum hip, was on Cortisone and then crushed his vertebrae last year in a motorcycle accident. We'll call him John, and John pointed the way upstairs. We joined a group of 9 others in a small, retro-furnished sitting room. I got a floor seat.

The next 2 hours were spent listening to a lecture on the history of Zen Buddhism. Normally a subject like this would hold my attention but it wasn't in the cards that day. Between all my mini naps, which I swear I tried to hide in every fidget-making head-propping neck-stretching way, I noted that John was reading his lecture from a thick stack of pages fresh off the internet. Slightly worn and rolled. He took the world's longest pauses every second sentence and then would ask for input which he could never hear and thus ignored. I got lost amidst the Eightfold Path, the five precepts and aggregates, four noble truths, three marks of existence and partridge in a pear tree. I was not prepared for the rhetoric spree. So while I was giving myself whiplash with all the nodding off, Justin was busy assigning Lost characters to each of the surrounding strangers in the room. He gave me the run-down later over margaritas and I gotta say his comparisons were impressively spot on. Things started looking up when John started to talk about the dharma and dharma teachers. He was a dharma teacher. By the time he mentioned the 108 prostrations my eyes were wide open (let your Lost geek flag fly here) and I began to entertain the idea that we were being recruited by the Dharma Initiative. Cool.

At half time JT and I escaped to the kitchen and scarfed down half of my smuggled pb&j sandwich and compared quick notes. Where the hell were we and what was going on? The second half of the afternoon was spent in the temple room where we did a lot of bowing - er, prostrating - and tried coordinating the prostrations with the chanting. I was still awaiting my meditation. We all grimaced in unison as John spent agonizing minutes demonstrating the proper prostrating techniques, rolling dangerously close to over a number of times, each of us bracing for his fall. I again got lost in the chants, bows, half-bows, full rises and half rises. It was oddly reminiscent of the ritual of Catholic Mass. It's easy to get lost in unless you've been doing it most your life. My meditation finally came in the last 2 minutes (literally) of the workshop. And I fell asleep.

John closed with letting us know the schedule of the services and the different levels of membership. Chores are done on Sundays - 15 minutes per person - and vegetarian meals served on Mondays. I left there both amused and frustrated. Amused by what all had unfolded over the past four hours, and frustrated by the same and not having found my 'Zen'. Don't get me wrong, there are many aspects of Buddhist principles that I can relate to. I took my world religions classes as electives in college and Buddhism was one of my favorite topics. One thing reinforced that afternoon was the fact that there is no expectation for one to abandon their own faith - or unfaith - in order to participate in the rituals of the Buddhist one. Even the Dalai Lama says to stick with what you know. They just hope that we are able to take what we need and apply it to our everyday lives in order to become better people. Be present. Be mindful. Join our Zen Center.

This morning I attended a 2 hour intensive yoga class, taught by my friend Eric. It was just what I needed and my head hummed for hours afterward. I felt balanced, calm and open. My quest for better meditation is not yet over, but at least I know where to go to find some Zen.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Smile

These landed in my inbox late last night.






They totally made me smile.

I miss you and love all 3.