Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see
One chance out between two worlds:
Fire, walk with me.
As all great shows do, LOST’s Season 5 began last night and answered a few questions (that most already knew) and added a whole bunch more. So now, as great politicians do, I will pose questions for myself to answer:
Q: Why is Sawyer so tubby?
A: Despite the amount of ‘Suspension of Disbelief’ required for LOST fans, I’m still dismayed by how doughy Sawyer looks. That said, I guess I have to accept that Sawyer is played by a real human who is not stuck on a mysterious time-jumping island.
Q: Why is Sawyer obsessed with putting a shirt on for most of the episode, and why do they focus on him getting jabbed by a sharp bamboo stick?
A: My best guess is that Sawyer (who was stuck in a giant Skinner Box during Season 2), will now start living through Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Need” theory. In which shoeless/shirtless Caveman Sawyer can not become truly “self-actualized” until his base needs are met — Food, Water, Clothing, Shelter, Companionship… or as Sawyer would see it — mangos, beer, flannel, a tarp and Juliet(?). In fact, as LOSTwriters are prone to do, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an unsubtle hint, like a character named “Maslow”, show up on the island.
Q: Did I catch LOST using both the titles “3 years Before” and “3 Years Ago” in the same episode?
A: I thought I did… bullshit right? It feels like they’re being aimlessly deceptive.
Q: Does the ability of all characters to jump through time and space revolutionize the show?
Q: Do Tell.
A: It’s a smart move on the writer’s part. Any loopholes that previous seasons have created can now be closed by depicting their preceding events (in the past) that haven’t been shown yet (in future episodes).
Also, it’s a great storytelling tool that allows the viewer to be sympathetic to a character’s implausible plight. In that way it reminds me of the film Memento, where moviegoers observe a hero with no long-term memory in scenes which run backward from end to beginning — thereby projecting the character’s brain issues onto its viewers.
Q: Intriguing. Please go on!
A: If you insist, good sir… by telling the stories of the “past”, “present” and “future” simultaneously, at some level the viewer will be rattled by revelations that the characters themselves are experiencing.
Also, if you care to geek out about physics even more so (like I occasionally try to), good ‘ol Einstein showed that all “time” really runs concurrently. (As well as fixed and unalterable as Daniel Farrady emphatically argues.)
So… viewing LOST in what David Lynch might call “the futurepast”, with all times going on at the same time, is actually just as valid as viewing a story from what we perceive, relatively, as the right way — beginning, middle, and end. Ohhhh, Science — fucking with my brain again.
Q: I feel dizzy and humbled by this new knowledge. Does this have any direct implications within the reality of the show beyond clever and overly-smart script writing?
A: Absolutely maybe! For the first two seasons we’d been watching (what we thought were) real-time events buttressed by compelling (and suspiciously coincidental) background stories that manifest themselves on the island.
The first twist was that Beardy Jack (and later other characters like Sun and Kate) were being shown in what we first thought were flashbacks, then concluded were flashforwards, but know now thanks to Season 5 (and Einstein, I guess) that the correct timing of events is all um…. Relative. I mean, it would be a flash forward or backward only if you view the Oceanic 6’s time on The Island as the “present”. (And now even that’s messed up.)
So, now that we know that they ACTUALLY JUMP THROUGH TIME AND SPACE, all the things that seem like ridiculous happenstance and coincidence could actually be an intricate and calculated set of events put into motion not by chance, but by necessity. (And, as a further mind-fuck, possibly set in motion by their future selves in order to set-right the only future that wouldn’t unravel the Fabric of the Cosmos). And now, if you’re keeping score, we’ve stumbled into Donnie Darko territory. Break out the emo eyeliner.
More on this later… some thoughts on the future/past, and maybe a sprinkling of mind/body and dream/reality concepts. So yeah, stuff you talked about while high, or in your Philosophy 001 class, or possibly both simultaneously.
If you’ll note, I recently started listing Events that I am interested in attending in the greater Chicago area entitled Bored People are Boring. Because, yeah, there’s a ton of stuff to do in this area and what I post is a small, small fraction of possible events to check out.
Most of these will be music shows, but I’ll also put up drink deals, art exhibits and other stuff if it piques my interest. I’ll update it at least once a week (changes will be in orange), and I’ll try to stay at least 4 weeks ahead to give y’all some fair warning.
Check out January and February which are up right now.
In what seems like forever ago, I reported on Bob Nanna’s chain of Polaroid images which capture Somebodies and Nobodies alike in a chain that started nearly 8 years ago — March 3rd 2001, with a photo of Bob at Second City in Chicago. Bob, at that point, was with the band Braid, and the photo chain weaves it’s way through a number of musicians you most certainly know.
Quite a task.
The best part about the Flickr portion is that there’s also a brief description of each photo in case you don’t immediately recognize (or wouldn’t recognize) who’s in the photo.
03/09/01 – Second City, Chicago IL
This is me. I look young and happy… just like the pic of George Wendt to my left.
03/10/01 – The Rave, Milwaukee WI
This is Rob, although back then everyone called him Robbie. He played bass in the Get Up Kids but lately, you’ve probably seen him scouring the globe (and your tv sets) as the bass player of Spoon! Together we probably listened to ‘The Lonesome Crowded West’ one thousand times during our European tour.
In their ongoing efforts to become a “non-typical” venue for the arts, The Viaduct Theatre on Western Ave has been hosting an exhibit called “Exquisite City“… a play off of the art game “Exquisite Copse” in which different artists depict parts of a body without seeing the whole — E.C. invited artists from across the city to depict their view of the city completely in cardboard, and then compile them together as individual, miniature city blocks. Lots of great work, including from one of my favorite poster artists Dan Grzeca, musician/artists collaborator Sally Timms and TONS of others.
The finished product of Exquisite City is very interesting… some abstract, some apolcolyptic, some detailed down to sidewalk curbs and little dramas taking place in little aprtment windows… wonderful stuff.
I’ll upload more photo’s later, but here’s an impressive foot-tall appropration of The Hideout:
and the real one c/o the blog “The Inside Clam Digger“…
This little Q&A with The Muttering Retreats‘ Tim Thornton unfortunately did NOT make it to (Internet)press on time, but far be it for me to deny you insight on this Cleveland-based little band that could.
Aside from playing their first Chicago venue show earlier this summer the day before Pitchfork, TMR has stayed busy this year… dropping their first proper LP (complete with adorable Wes Anderson-y art direction) and recently releasing a cover of Belle & Sebastian’s “Sleep the Clock Around” (Mediafire) — one of my personal favorites twee-as-fuck songs. They also just learned a bunch Beck songs to perform as America’s Most Acceptable Scientologist for a Halloween show at The Beachland.
If you’re in the vicinity of Ohio in the next few weeks, make sure you stop by to catch Muttering Retreats open for Casiotone for the Painfully Alone; the band that wouldn’t stop touring, on 11/22 at Beachland.
And now to go back in time to late July when Tim discussed “crusty” recording, album cliches, and being in a band while also living actual lives with 9-to-5 jobs…
Arms, Distance (Brian): First of all, congrats on the release of the self-titled full album! Though, this technically isn’t your first official release — The Muttering Retreats released a limited edition tape last year didn’t you?
Tim Thornton of The Muttering Retreats: Yes. Our initial release was also technically self-titled, but it came to be known as “The Letter Tape,” due largely in part that the alphabet was a bit of a concept with the tape. [The original “pressing” featured music on side A which was then played backwards on side B. The second batch was labeled side C and D, and so on].
AD: I wanted to touch on that, actually. It seems that the use of dated technology, like the cassette tape, fits well with the aesthetic of the group. Aside from the nod to indie pop history, making tapes instead of CD-R’s is just one of the voluntarily analog, or organic, or like you said “crusty”, processes The Muttering Retreats seem to take in crafting music. Was this cultivation of your sound just a natural process, or more of a back-to-basics type manifesto?
T: We went a totally different route. We tried to make the full length more cohesive, more of a full length statement. We really went out of our way with what might seem like minor details, such as sequencing.
T:I think the biggest faux pas is putting your weakest song as the second to last track … I’d say that putting some of your best stuff on the second half of an album is such a great reward for listening to the whole album. One example I looked to for this album was the newest Spoon record. “The Ghost of You Lingers” is the kind of track most bands would put as the second to last track, but they put it as the second song! Such balls! Even though they put such a difficult song as track 2, they put (arguably) the best song as the second to last. “Finer Feelings” is by far my personal favorite on the record… it’s such a great example of how thought out sequencing can help an album a lot.
We really tried to emulate that brave approach, putting an atypical song as the first track, then putting a completely opposite song as track 2 and so on.
The three of us have very normal lives with the responsibilities that go with them, including 9-5 jobs, student loans, and upcoming wedding plans. [Tim and Cari are currently engaged]. We can’t live the life of a ‘career’ band, at least not in the sense that you can expect us to pack up and go on tour for weeks on end.
As far as “progression” in the band, the CD is a definite raising of the bar for us. I’m already looking forward to the next one. But we even know it’s not time to quit our day jobs.
AD: Wow, lots of stuff in the works. That is an interesting point, too — that the cost of a “proper” tour must be astronomical now with gas prices. Maybe gas sticker-shock will foster stronger musical communities, supportive hyper-local scenes, etc.
So, you’re multi-tasking this weekend too — attending the Pitchfork Music Fest while you’re in town. What bands are you most excited about seeing? Which of the bands on this year’s docket would you most want to play with? Besides Spoon I guess.
T:Personally, I would really not ever want to play with Spoon, they’re just too good. I’m excited to finally see Spiritualized. They’re a perfect example of the kind of band we’re trying to be … Spiritualized can make their songs work with a 100 piece orchestra or just a guitar and a vocal. We’re really interested in that sort of songwriting.
Oh, and Public Enemy… just because that set is going to be the most fun moment of the summer.
AD: It’s going to be a nice three+ days of music (and people watching).
You mentioned Spiritulized songs can work simply or with lots of components–in that way, how does a Muttering Retreats set work? Your music has elements of both straight-up pop but I know you’re also big into sound experimentation. You feature a fair amount of guest instrumentals and some of the production can also be quite dense: how does all this work live?
AD: Well, sometimes it just doesn’t work. But we try, honest. Our live setup at the very beginning was very convoluted and complex, it just led to a lot of technical difficulties. We had a laptop up there, midi controllers by the drums, wires everywhere, headphones… all this stuff. That didn’t last long.
Our live set depends on our resources. Sometimes there’s a drum set, sometimes not. Sometimes we’ll need a sax, other times a clarinet will do. Recently, we’ve even been messing around with completely re-arranging songs… adding new parts, having someone else sing, playing it faster/slower/on different instruments…
A lot of bands are out there with six or more people up on stage and we simply aren’t one of those bands, though I could see people making that assumption listening to some of our songs. Every once and a while we’ll get someone extra to come up and play drums or trumpet or something, but it’s less often than you might assume by listening to the CD.
We’ve all been getting into the business of making a bit of a soundscape under our songs. There’s a bit of that on the record, but it’s something I like to create in a live setting using loops and such. Chris is currently working on a setup that will allow him to make loops/soundscapes of his violin and piano, but that project is still in the works.
(photo by Ruthie Hauge)
I see a bit of Sally Mann here, and a bit of the awkward with attitude posing that reminds me of Rineke Dijkstra. Hauge is employed as a newspaper photojournalist, but her journalistic endeavors also give us a chance to see some impromptu slices-of-life. When you think about it, both a photojournalist and a photographer try to capture the moment, except that a photojournalist can’t tell you to do it again.