Lads From Liverpool

I left you with a gripping cliffhanger over a year ago about my eyeballs, and now you can breath. My vision is amazingly clear and the recovery after the procedure was weird and miserable only for a little while. Going back to last year I was following rumor and news about a new release from U2. After launching “Invisible” in February, 2014, it seemed a new record was imminent and they were not going to settle for relic status. About that time I came across the “Eh! U Talkin’ U2 To Me?” (read that in a Travis Bickle voice) podcast from Scott & Scott, the U2 nerds. Fortunately, they have day jobs as (mid- to upper-alphabet range) Hollywood stars. Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Life of Walter Mitty, know what I’m saying? Like me, their anticipation was stoked! Though in each 3-hour episode, outside of the convoluted tangents and ‘podcast within a podcast’ segments, they barely got around to talking about U2.

Maybe I did learn a few encyclopedic and comprehensive facts about the band, but now I realize the genuine takeaway was a sense of humor and the ability to take the band’s collective ego (entirely Bono) with a pinch of salt. With that conditioning it was possible to keep perspective when “Songs of Innocence” was compelled upon the planet. I can trust that they meant well, but then most of the planet was not amused with having “dad rock” involuntarily pushed to their playlists. It was well and kind that they wanted everyone to enjoy the new record for free, but it became an object lesson for the value of our free agency; U2 (Bono’s ego) came across like cloying, cheap cologne in a small indoor space. The otherwise decent album made a bad impression.

Again, thanks to the podcast, I got a bit deeper and broader in contemplating U2. Honestly I am no longer “in the moment” with them and it’s more of a sentimental recollection. They were significantly influential to me for a long time and I view the world with some of the perspective they gave me, but I don’t listen to them much anymore. I love it when I do dig back into the old collection, but I feel like I’ve absorbed all there is for me. I’m at a saturation for Bonoisms (The Edge on guitar never gets old though).

Some of those podcast episodes got me thinking about what is my actual favorite U2 record of all time and space. My first flash response would be “War” since it’s the first one that got me hooked and it was the crest of my angsty teenage time. But this would take some serious statistical treatment now that I have a clear and objective vantage point. With some irreproducible scientific procedures I came up with my actual list, which I can say I don’t agree with, but hey, the subjective numbers cannot lie. I simply listed each song within each album, rated with a numeric scale (2, 1, 0, -1, -2) from “phenomenal, wow” to “omg, what a turd,” tallied the point total for each album, and divided by number of tracks. Here’s what I got:

1: Joshua Tree
2: Unforgettable Fire
3: Songs of Innocence (WTF)

12: Boy (But it’s really good when your first album is not the best you’ve even done)

My ‘Best Of’ List
[Boy: None]
– I Threw a Brick Through a Window
[War: None, wtf]
[Unforgettable Fire]
– Wire
– The Unforgettable Fire
[Joshua Tree]
– With or Without You
– One Tree Hill
[Achtung Baby]
– Even Better Than the Real Thing
– Until the End of the World
– The Fly
[Zooropa: None]
– Do You Feel Loved
– Gone
– Beautiful Day
[HTDaAB: None]
– Magnificent
– Breathe
[SoI: None, suspicious?]

My ‘Worst Of’ List
– The Wanderer
– The Playboy Mansion
– Yahweh

In conclusion, “War” is still my sentimental favorite, but Joshua Tree is (statistically) a set of wow! relentlessly phenomenal songs. I think there must be some noise in the data to account for the anomaly of “War” disappearing and “Songs of Innocence” spiking on this list. Apparently I also need a psychiatrist if I’m starting to correct my own mind on my opinions.

Laser Focus

I am set for Friday at lunchtime to correct or completely wreck my vision by way of a laser beam to evaporate the surface of my eyeballs. This elective PRK surgery, alternatively described as an industrial energy beam calibrated to char away the cornea, will permanently change how I see the world. With good fortune my vision will be clear, free of ghosts and halos, and I will not be blind. Yes, that’s the best I’m hoping for – that I will not be worse off than now with the hassle of glasses. This has brought me to some contemplation as to which of my vital human senses I would be willing to sacrifice, if I had the choice. On purely pragmatic terms it would have to be my sense of taste since that’s just for the joy of flavor. Vision may be the worst practical function to lose since that must be how we perceive the most information. But I think I’d still miss my hearing the most if that would cut out music from my life. Continue reading

Missing Member

Which band member is just overhead, redundant, obsolete? If we want to be manically efficient, it should a self-sufficient one-man-band; a pathetic loner strapped into twelve quixotic instruments, speaking a cacophonous, single voice. I have witnessed a one-man-band, with a clarinet wired up to flop a snare drum and smash a cymbal, and it was a rhythm echoing in an uncanny valley. Mechanically, the human mind can only really process one thing at a time, so the beat was lock-stepped to a single train of thought, and it was like an author who has never met another human being, so all the dialog read, literally, like a monologue. Continue reading

Feline Longevity

Falling in love with an adorable kitten we are amused until it soon grows to be an adolescent nuisance. Likewise, there are bands that, in their time decades ago, seemed relevant and were briefly the focus of universal attention. They may have been genuinely talented and creative, but their moment passed and the adoration moved on to another infatuation. I’ll come up with a few examples in a minute, but I want to continue the idea of the living, furry creature with a full lifespan. Long, long after we may have forgotten about the kitten and moved on, the maturing feline continues making a living being a cat. Continue reading

LCD Timewarp

I’m back in the boisterous Provo Coffee Pod, a little bewildered. Despite the draw of the Utah Pride Festival this weekend in SLC there are still numerous iPhone metro-bohemians left in Utah County on a Sunday afternoon. I guess the population skews back to the other side of the tracks over the Summer. Much of the ecclesiastically endorsed BYU demographic recedes back out of Zion and we’re left with more tattoos, piercings, and (god forbid) sun dresses. I’m only complaining because I’d rather be tucked away in a nice quiet corner of the public library, but that kind of establishment is considered to be ungodly and an abomination on the Sabbath. Since I’ve lived in Provo so long I had the impression that all libraries are closed on Sundays, to let the dusty, weary books, and their librarian curators, rest their spines. But then I came across a library with its doors unlocked, lights turned on, and literary select diverse – and open on a Sunday. So now I’ve got that pebble in my shoes. Continue reading