Beer and Pavement

Nice Package

Posted in Beer, Intersections by SM on May 16, 2011

Although some are discovering the beer can and others obsess over it, the bottle is still the primary way we get our craft beer. Beer typically comes in 12 oz, 22 oz, 750 mL, and even the rare 7 oz bottle. Occasionally, one will encounter the seasonal release in a magnum bottle, but only if you plan on sharing it with a host of friends and family.

The biggest characteristic of every beer bottle is the size. Basically, how much beer do you want to drink? The traditional serving is 12 ounces, but sometimes we are faced with a 22 oz or 750 mL bomber. This either means you have a commitment to make (especially with a beer in the 9+% ABV range) or you need a friend or two. The sixer of 12 oz bottles requires another kind of commitment, one that can be spread out over time. So, there are decisions to be made when choosing a bottle size.

Take the Maharaja I opted to open the other night. I’ve been cutting back on the weeknight beer lately, but we ordered out and rented a movie on Thursday, so I figured what the hay. My sandwich included some blue cheese, meaning that I needed a big DIPA that bordered on barley wine territory to stand up to the blue cheese. Avery’s Maharaja did the trick with its mouthful of bitter and booze. However, 22 oz was more than I intended to drink. Luckily, there are tricks. I would have used a European flip-top bottle that holds 11.2 oz, but I delivered a friend some Hopslam and haven’t been able to get my bottle back. The other option I like to use is the champaign stopper. It holds in much of the carbonation and keeps enough air out to avoid oxidation. The key is to finish the beer soon, particularly an IPA/DIPA. These beers need to be consumed fresh, no matter what some think. I did so at the end of the following day.

I don’t like to do this with a bomber of beer. I’d rather open and drink a bomber in one night. Again, a fresh beer is a beer at its peak, aside from a few notable exceptions. To do this, most beer nerds know that sharing is caring. The bomber encourages this even better than a six-pack of 12 oz bottles. Sure, it’s easy to hand your buddy a 12 oz bottle from your pack, but there’s no thought put into that share. A bomber requires a careful pour. One either pours out a sampling as to allow others to try the sweet nectar inside or there is the careful aligning of glasses when there’s two or three of you. Either way, the bomber pour demonstrates a true willingness and intention to share your beer.

Besides the bottle (and the beer itself), a large part of the experience is actually the label art. Some view labels with an artistic eye. Home brewers (myself included), put their own creativity to work with their own labels. A label can entice you to try a beer or completely turn you off, even with a poor font choice. A lot of care in creating a label that grabs the consumer’s attention, paints a picture of the experience within, and promoting a brewery’s brand is taken in the design process. Sometimes, when done well enough, the label can influence opinion about what the drinker is consuming. Even the prose on a label can create a brand’s image that lasts long past a beer’s influence.

So, packaging matters.

Then, there’s the packaging in which our music comes. Granted, one should not judge a book, beer, or record by its cover, but sometimes that’s a factor. This is especially true for record covers as they often reflect the artistic vision within or are even an extended work by the artists making the music. Sadly, this is becoming less and less of a factor as uglier record covers are produced every year, possibly due to the rash of kids downloading their music and completely forgoing the package all together.

Being that I’m in my mid-thirties, I still buy records for the the purpose of owning an artifact. Ever since someone brilliantly decided to attach MP3 downloads (and even CD’s) to vinyl releases, I buy all vinyl for my collection these days. I have purchased one or two CD’s since 2009. Since then, it’s been all vinyl.

The format is for lounging, sharing. There’s the soft tones not found on tinny digital recordings. There’s a slight crackle to lend some authenticity. You have to get up and flip the record, making you physically involved in the playing process. For what it lacks in transportability, records more than make up with the more tactile aspects of music listening. It’s the full experience, not just music.

Beer offers the same in its various formats, but it generally works in the consumer’s favor whichever format is chosen. Having a beer on tap or from a cask is usually preferable, but bottle conditioning has come a long way since craft beer went extreme and home brewers became a dime a dozen. However, I’d argue the 22 ounce bomber is the vinyl of beer packaging as it promotes sharing without encouraging you to get shit-faced (too quickly)…

And this is where I lose momentum from trying to write this over a three week period. I should have left space to address specific packages I like, but I just didn’t as I got a little long-winded with this one. Surely, it’s a topic which I will explore some more in the future, but today is not my day. Any thoughts on the subject are welcome. Keep in mind that this is an unfinished post I’m trying to get out of the way so that I can write more important things about beer and Pavement.

So, for Monday, you get two lame posts in exchange for no real post. Your ignored workload thanks me.

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Posted in Challenge by SM on December 1, 2010

As suggested by Steve, I’m posting the beginnings of several posts I’ve started over the past couple of weeks but never finished. There were more, but I deleted them. Honestly, most of this is shite (as Steve might say) and I haven’t read it since first typing it just to get something down. The only one I may still finish is the last one.

Ridicule me as usual…

I don’t tend to write much about TV since I don’t watch much TV. Aside from a small handful of shows and some sporting events, I find TV to be pretty detestable. So, when it was announced that Dogfish Head’s own Sam Calagione would be hosting a show on Discovery, I took notice.

The show premiered a week ago and people had various takes on the program. The beer nerds in my circle mostly hated it, but I think they just wanted a show for them and not the typical Discovery Channel viewer. Twitter was mostly aflutter with glowing praise, but what else can you say in 140 characters about a TV show without coming off as a punk-ass Farker? And the blogospere was primarily taking bets on how long the show will last.

What’s missing is whether or not this show will prove to be good for craft beer. Like when indie kids lamented Nirvana breaking on MTV, beer nerds everywhere are worried their obsession will become no better than the watered-down, rice adjunct-ed swill they’ve rejected for so long. However, like the grunge kids, beer nerds need to relax. Brew Masters will not ruin craft beer. If anything, it should do the industry and community some good. Nirvana breaking big sure produced a lot of copycats for major labels with which to pollute the airwaves, but it also made a much wider range of music available to the average listener. There are still crappy bands, but we would have never heard so many great bands without Nirvana’s breakthrough. Brew Masters is craft beer’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or something like that.

Brew Masters is not made for beer nerds. Beer is but a medium for Discovery to tell a story. Sam Calagione is their protagonist, a compelling one at that. The show will spend an inordinate amount of time on the marketing of beers, trips to find new recipes and ingredients, and basically all the extraneous details that will go into brewing Dogfish Head beer. In other words, the show really isn’t about the beer. It isn’t a demonstration of advanced brewing methods for us to geek out on. The show probably won’t tell us anything we all didn’t already learn about Dogfish Head that we didn’t already know. I mean, craft beer is 5% of the beer market. I suspect homebrewers even make up a smaller percentage of the beer-consuming community than that. If Discovery were making this show for us, they…

This will possibly be the most overused Thanksgiving meme/theme of the day, but I don’t care. I’ve had trouble coming up with blogable topics and thought this might be an easy way to get going. Besides, there is really so much that I’m thankful for this year. Here are just a few of those things…

Waffle House – It is a Thanksgiving tradition for us to go to the Waffle House for breakfast before we get our cook on. Sure, the food is only moderately good, but we are all entitled this one indulgence. Besides, most decent breakfast joints are closed on Thanksgiving and we need to load up since we won’t eat until 5 or 6. The Waffle House fills those needs and provides a base for all the beer I’ll drink.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 – Typically, a nice Saison would ideally pair well with Thanksgiving turkey, but we smoke our bird. A Saison won’t stand up to the charred smokiness of our turkey. So, I turn the notch up and pour this perfectly balanced Belgian dark abbey ale to counter the strength of our main dish. Sure, there will be DIPA’s and imperial stouts poured before and after dinner, but St. Bernardus is our patron saint of the smoked turkey.

iPod Mixes – Every year, I attempt to mix some songs or simply throw albums-worth of music into a playlist that lend itself to the brisk autumn weather and a harvest time feast. In the past, Nick Drake, Feist, and José González among others have dominated the soundtrack. This year, it’s looking as if Sufjan Stevens and The Walkmen will be joining the fun. Plus, I may have to play a whole heaping serving of Pavement as this is likely the end of the road for my favorite band. At least I saw them two more times this year…

Buckeyes – All kinds of Buckeyes make me thankful this year. The horse chestnuts have brought me luck – I just haven’t been able to figure out what that luck has been. I’m making my own version of the candy sort, using high-end chocolate (without paraffin), natural peanut butter, and fleur de sel. It should be a good topper to Thanksgiving dinner or something good to munch on while I cheer the third sort of Buckeyes as they play their greatest rival this Saturday. I hate that team up north, I won’t even dare to mention their names on this blog. Just know that my Bucks are looking for their sixth straight conference championship, sixth straight win over their rivals (nine out of ten), and a shot at another BCS bowl with a win Saturday.

There are moments in life that define who we are. Hopefully, those moments are mostly positive, but some can be negative as well. These moments in our lives help define who we are, what we’ll become, and how we’ll be remembered.

For me, I can think of a few such moments. None were earth-shattering for anyone who’s not me, but they have defined who I am. There was the basketball game in 8th grade where I nailed the winning free throws on the same week I learned a new technique for shooting from the charity stripe. There was the night I was recognized for my service to a YMCA camp, earning an award that had only been given to one other individual in the camp’s 80-year history. There was the birth of my daughter.

All of these moments shaped me in one way or another. It was all mostly good.

Sometimes, these moments happen to one person who shines and defines his/her legacy. My Ohio State Buckeyes experienced one of those moments this weekend, specifically their über-hyped quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Pryor seemed to be melting down as usual against a tough opponent. His third-quarter interception set up the Iowa Hawkeyes for the go-ahead touchdown.

This one’s been on my back burner for a while. It seems every time I turn around, another alt/indie band from my (post)youth is reuniting for a tour or single show at some festival. I guess it means a couple of things: 1) I’m getting old and 2) indie rock really is successful.

One band that is regularly absent from the list of upcoming tours and re-issues is Archers of Loaf. They often come up in pieces where bands list their favorite bands or are included in cover opportunities on influential websites. They were all the rage for anyone in the mid-nineties between Pavement and Superchunk releases. Their live shows were proof that punk was not yet dead. They were fucking Archers of Loaf.

It all started for Loaf in 1990, but their first album didn’t come out until 1993. The hugely influential Icky Mettle had to have been one of the three most dubbed-to-cassette-tape albums of the 90’s. I had Icky Mettle and AoL’s follow-up Vee Vee on opposite sides of a tape that I wore completely out. I acquired my copies of their first two albums around the same time I saw the band for the first time. An Archers of Loaf live show was a thing of…

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This is not a record review

Posted in Records by SM on August 17, 2010

So, I’ve been working on this post for a while. It’s not taking so long because I’m crafting it. Rather, it’s taking so long because I haven’t had time to work on it. In the meantime, there have been ideas for posts pass me by. So, I’m publishing this thing without hyperlinks, pics, or footnotes. Agree with me. Tell me where I’m wrong. Just don’t hold me to any standard set on this blog in previous posts.

Or at least this is not one I should have written weeks ago. I mean, record reviews are dead, right? No one reads them anymore. And when they’re written, they say very little about the music. Besides, we all just check the number or count the stars. Who has time to see if someone else thinks you should buy the record? Buy it or don’t. We don’t need record reviews and we sure as hell shouldn’t write them.

I used to buy records based on what was written in the back of a Rolling Stone or Spin. And when I bought the record without reading a single review, I’d sometimes read the reviewer’s take after the fact to see if at least one person heard it the way I did. I’d often find a disconnect and simply move on to another source of reviews that was closer to my own opinions and tastes. My infatuation with a magazine’s record reviews never lasted long. I eventually turned to online sources for reviews such as Pitchfork, but even that was short-lived.

And like assholes, we all started our own blogs where we pushed our own reviews onto the world. So, now, instead of less record reviews through which to sort, there are now thousands or even millions more. Plus, we had to consider our own reviews. What would my blog say about this band? What will my Facebook status say tomorrow about this record? The review has taken over.

But I don’t like to look at it that way.

The way I see it is that we now have a new platform to discuss art, especially music. No longer do I have to take it from a professional journalist or a punk at P4k. Hell, I don’t even have to blindly accept what a friend has to say in his/her blog post. At the least, I can look elsewhere or leave a comment. At the most, I can publish my own thoughts. Either way, what is created in this (cyber)space is a forum for discussion. No longer is it a one-way distribution. The exchange comes from multiple directions and is inclusive. Is this still a review? I don’t know, but it’s certainly more interesting.

I’m not going to review Arcade Fire’s newest record, The Suburbs. I’m not going to tell you why it’s great or where it falls short. In the end, you’ll make up your own mind. You’ll buy it or not. It doesn’t make any difference to me.

Besides, is it really possible to judge an Arcade Fire album fairly these days? With the president set by “Funeral”, it’s hard to imagine any album could measure up. When I saw Pitchfork’s review, reading just the score as I do these days, I was impressed with its showing of 8.6. Then I read this take and questioned the entire thing, album and review.

But who really cares?

When one plays The Suburbs, it is instantly clear that Win Butler and co. have written their own review. You see, the album isn’t literally about the suburbs. The suburbs are a metaphor for succeeding, for making it. There was a time when every working stiff’s dream was to make enough money to house his family in the ‘burbs. Sure, it was the pinnacle of nuclear familial status, but there was also a certain sense of selling out. Arcade Fire has to deal with that sort of quandary as well.

The opening title track lets the listener know right away that this is not your youth’s Arcade Fire. It’s a mature pop sound that either invites or turns you off. No matter, because this intro and the following tracks of synth-lite pop and Boss-centric dramatics is just the aesthetics, something Arcade Fire used to use like few others ever could. This pop sheen is just a fresh coat of paint or new siding to cover the charm of uncertainty below.

What Arcade Fire does with the content of their latest album is break down how said record will be perceived, how they will be perceived. The band has written the review for us. There’s no need to write our own or give any credence to Rolling Stone‘s take. The band tells you exactly what to make of The Suburbs throughout the record.

The death of anything punk, alternative, or indie is proclaimed over a pop piano playing of what can only be described as the band’s Billy Joel moment. The song breaks down the divisions of culture created in the 70’s at the hands of Sex Pistols and Stooges, longing for the time to just simply enjoy life and art without the inevitable judgment of hipsters and bloggers. This is the first time Arcade Fire rejects youth, something I never thought I’d hear them do.

The second track, “Ready to Start,” continues to toy with youthful cynicism and shows us a band that is both aware of what it’s doing and unconcerned with what you think of it. “Modern Man” asserts Arcade Fire’s rightful place in (modern) dad-rock, albeit rather cool dad-rock. You know, it’s touch being a middle-aged white dude, living in the suburbs and all that. [winking emoticon here] If anything, these two tracks hint at the themes and aesthetics to come.

A full rejection of hipsterdom comes next, but it’s more than what Pitchfork says it is. “Rococo” references a couple of important cultural moments. The first of these moments is also known as “late Baroque”, possibly a response to the band’s silly and somewhat lazy label of “Baroque pop” or simply an assertion of their artistic transition into something different. The original Rococo movement was a significant transition in European culture. The “other” Rococo was a band in the midst of the 70’s punk and progressive rock scenes. Because of either timing, energy, or a combination of the two, Rococo were often lumped in with the The Clash and Sex Pistols. However, they were very different from the punk rock of the day. Both of these meanings hint at something way deeper to the Arcade Fire sound than simply dissing some hipsters.

“Empty Room” certainly starts out like your typical Arcade Fire track with the strings and anthemic guitar feedback. The track celebrates the band’s breaking from their aesthetic shackles, proclaiming, “When I’m by myself, I can be myself,” a typical sentiment from anyone trying so hard to not be what everyone proclaims them to be.

In “City with No Children”, the band provides another take on the youthful perspective of their music. With the amount of information available to kids, their primary audience, the band sadly sees its listeners as cynics well before they should be. The result is that they can’t return to their unknown origins. There is no way this record will be judged on its own merit. There will always be the Arcade Fire mystique created by classic debuts, Pitchfork 10’s, and YouTube videos of the band playing among their fans.

Despite all the assertions of change in Win Butler’s voice, “Half Light I” assures the listener that this is still the same old Arcade Fire you’ve grown to love. They’re just expanding, taking on another appearance in the half light. The abrupt shift in aesthetics of The Suburbs is sort of like a terror twilight, that moment before the sun goes down when things just feel ominous. Interestingly, another reference to the Rococo period happens as the band sings, “They hide the ocean in a shell,” as artists of the time used shells as a popular motif for their designs.

In the track’s continuation, “Half Light II,” Arcade Fire contemplates their shift and development as a band. It’s a track that moves them forward as they grasp at whatever magic brought them together. Also, the aesthetics provided some huge 80’s synthesizers pull the listener to go along with this change.

“Suburban War” is where Arcade Fire lets you go your merry way in case you’ve given up on them at this point. They realize you’ve grown apart from them or vice versa. Here’s where the metaphor of the suburbs as success, particularly in the music industry, hit hardest as sides are chosen, divided by almost exclusively by musical tastes.

And as the band came to terms with this shift and the inevitable loss of a portion of their audience, they set out to write a record. “Month of May” takes the listener to the recording process. The band made their commitment to record this album in an uncompromising style. Cynicism and apathy are called out again (“The kids are all standing with their arms folded tight”) as the band’s groove pleads with the listener to simply move his body, enjoy the moment.

I’m not going to continue through the track list from here. This is beginning to resemble a review and that was not my intent. I think you get the point. Arcade Fire reviewed the album for you. It’s extremely meta. they’ve rejected all those who would turn their nose up at this incredible rock record.

Sure, the punk ethos is gone from the surface and the anthems are not as anthemic, but this album can stand on its own. It can stand up to your skepticism, your expectations.

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Womyn’s History Month

Posted in Activism, GenderBender by SM on March 9, 2010

OK. So, I don’t know that this piece is post-worthy or not. I’ve had no time to work on it and really don’t care anymore. There were to be pictures and videos and possibly more footnotes than you could shake a stick at, but I’ve done as much with this as I can. It’s time to move on. Be nice in the comments. I have things to say in the coming days and weeks. Don’t unsubscribe just yet.

I used to teach fourth grade1. Every year, I’d make my students study up on Black history in February and women’s history in March. One student asked why they had to study about women for a whole month. I explained that every other month was men’s history month. The boys in the class thought this was great, but I squelched their celebration with the revelation that this isn’t fair to only recognize the contributions of women for one month a year, something they understood as poor African-Americans in the inner-city2. I earned a lot of respect from my girls that day.

So, it’s March again and it’s still Women’s Womyn’s History Month whether I’m teaching or not. It’s sad that we have to set aside a whole month for such topics just to insure that kids are presented with a balanced perspective on history3, but that’s how it is.

If I wanted my daughter to follow in the footsteps of any female rocker of the past century, I’d choose Katleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre fame4. In the late 80’s/early 90’s, even the underground rock scene was terribly sexist5. Hanna and her merry band of grrrls stuck it to the hardcore boys in the most punk way possible: They made uncompromising, vag-to-the-wall punk rock. Bikini Kill and the like stood up to the boys and put them in their place6.

It wasn’t just about the music. Hanna and others lead a revolution within feminist ranks, calling attention to the racism, homophobia, and classism that once plagued the movement7. Some refer to this era as the onslaught of third wave feminism. Whatever it’s called, Hanna and the Riot Grrrl movement broke down a lot of barriers. Suddenly, it was kewl8 to be feministy and not so hippie-dippy9. Hanna’s brand of feminism spoke to those not totally sure about its causes10.

For a taste of what I’m talking about, check this interview she recently did for GritTV here. Also, one can peruse Bikini Kill memories as told by their fans in the ultimate demonstration of community building over at the Bikini Kill Archive.

Of course, Hanna is just one of many feminists/female-rockers-who-may-or-may-not-be-feminist I’d love for my daughter to look to for inspiration. A top-10 list is below…

1. Kathleen Hanna (Read above.)

2. PJ Harvey – No one rocks or takes more control of their sexuality than Polly Jean Harvey. She is so ridiculously bad-ass that she the same effect on her listeners as a  Mick Jagger or Iggy Pop. She’s not classically beautiful, but she gets your attention and tells you how it’s going to be.

3. Kim Gordon – She married a younger man in band mate Thurston Moore. She doesn’t stand out just because she’s the only w0man in the band, but because she’s friggin’ awesome. All that and she invented the baby-t.

4. Beth Ditto – I have never seen more of a punk rock moment than the night six or seven years ago when I witnessed Ditto take it off for the crowd, flaunting her voluptuous body for all the dykes11 in the house. The best moment of that show was when she called out the kid in the “Feminist Chicks Dig Me” t-shirt and informed him that they didn’t.

5. Kim Deal – I know she’s had a rough go of it with the drugs and alcohol, but she is arguably the most successful of all the former Pixies…in terms of record sales. That and she’s from Dayton.

6. Liz Phair – My early exposure to feminism happened when I first listened to Exile in Guyville. It’s been downhill from there.

7. Bjork – Unapologetically weird but not in that creepy, Tori Amos sort of way. No one sings like Bjork or attacks paparazzi like her either.

8. Thao Nguyen – Cool and self-assured, I don’t think any other musician I follow on Facebook sends me more political messages than Thao.

9. All of Sleater-Kinney – They should probably be higher on this list, but it’s not a contest. One member is maybe the best two or three drummers in indie. One member writes the best music blog on NPR’s site and makes a good viral video now and again. The third just belts shit out. When is their reunion tour?

10. Herself – Lucia, my daughter already has demonstrated a love and proficiency in music.I only hope that I will do enough to encourage her growth. Either way, she should always look to herself for inspiration in both her feminism and musicianship.

I know I’m missing someone. Who are you honoring this Womyn’s History Month?

Bonus Non-Rocker: Angela Davis – How many folks have ever had a former Black Panther as their professor? Davis talked the talk and walked the walk way before the Riot Grrrls. She is still one bad mother.

It’s a long story, but I may find myself back in a classroom yet.
2I mean, Black History is not only given a month itself, but it’s been relegated to the year’s shortest month. What kind of racist shit is that?
3Of course, I realize even these special months do not insure a balanced approach to history. For that, we must depend on Texas to make the right decisions and we know how fruitless that will be.
4Actually, I’d choose her mama, but in the interest of keeping this blog universal and devoid of too much personal information, I’ll leave her out of it. I’ll just say that my partner is the smartest and most thoughtful person I know, a perfect role-model for our daughter.
5Sans a more-enlightened rocker like, say, Ian MacKaye. Either way, there was not a lot of room at hardcore shows for girls and women. Hell, there wasn’t even a lot of room for those of us guys who don’t need to thump our chests and tear off our shirts.
6I could insert some emasculating idiom here, but it would defeat the point. The idea is to turn shit around on the boys. It’s always about sticking women back in the kitchen and all that, but why don’t we make the boys fix our sandwiches??
7OK. It still plagues the movement and many other movements. However, what Hanna and the Riot Grrrl movement did do was teach us to critically look at all perspectives, especially those that have been so embraced by our communities for a certain length of time.
8Sorry for the Carles slip there. I have been reading too much Hipster Runoff lately. Lucky for you, I am usually able to avoid such a miscue.
9FYI, I really don’t care for hippies, but I now just find them harmless, useless.
10By this, I mean boys like myself who were pulled in by the rock rawk.
11I mean this only in a loving way. I am reclaiming the term for my lesbian sisters and brothers.

The Flaming Lost

Posted in Intersections, Pop by SM on February 4, 2010

Disclaimer: I only published this post because I was tired of trying to write it in a way that made sense. Do with it as you please. I have thick skin. You could also tell me something that I did right or mostly berate me. Whatever.

I don’t watch a lot of TV (or a lot of TV with a purpose). I watch some comedic programs1 and certain sporting events2, but I really don’t have a regular TV schedule I follow, except for Lost. I just watch Lost.

Last night was season premier night for my (only) favorite show. I’ve waited since the end of season five3 for the final season to commence. Why? I dunno. It could be the viral marketing4 or complex characters or multi-layered narratives or…it’s just a good show. Lost broke out of the box5 of the typical TV show by transcending time and space6, reality and science fiction7, and basic bad guy/good guy dichotomies8 like no other show has ever done before.

I was thinking about Lost‘s trajectory over the past five seasons and it sort of reminded me of the Flaming Lips’ last six albums9. The first season of Lost, much like 1993’s Transmissions from the Satellite Heart10, starts off fresh, big, and different. Both the album and show explore fledgling love triangles, abductions, and questions of faith. It’s really the beginning for both the TV show and the band11.

Both the second season and the Lips’s Clouds Taste Metallic take much darker turns than their predecessors. Evils are revealed alongside sad realities. Ships are set sail, destroyed, and abandoned. One could even make a case that both follow-ups closely resemble the tenor and tone of Empire Strikes Back, but that would be too nerdy. In the end, the black guy is sent away and all hope is lost12.

The series of Lip’s albums and Lost take strange turns but go a long way in preparing their fans for what’s to come. Scientists race for cures and try to solve the unknowns of their surroundings. Waiting for heroes and unveiling the mysteries of science thematically carry these works. The Soft Bulletin13 and Lost‘s third season were breaking points for each. The Lip’s album topped many year-end lists and is generally considered their breakthrough effort. The castaways of Lost were finally within reach of the outside world as their narrative was about to take a rather severe turn in the seasons to come.

Much is expanded upon in both the Lips’ and Lost‘s narratives. Their follow-ups to their breakthroughs extended themes and aesthetic. Season five was as much a disappointment as At War with the Mystics. And the jury is still out on Embryonic and the still-fresh season six of Lost14.

Throughout the Lips’ discography they’ve covered topics ranging from the existential to the downright comical, mirroring Lost as if existing in a parallel universe15

Anyway, we watched the season premier of Lost and like every time I buy a new Flaming Lips’ record, I feel…well…a little lost. But that kind of lost a is a happy lost. A lost in which reality is suspended. A flash of light blinds for a moment and I’m transported somewhere else. The best music and even the best of TV do that for the consumer. It’s better than any drug. That’s why we keep going back. That’s why I can’t wait for Tuesdays and  for nine months to pass between seasons of my favorite TV show.

1The Office, Thirty Rock, and Stewart/Cobert are the only comedic shows worth watching. End of discussion…unless of course you want to debate my point in the comments, but I don’t think you will.
2I primarily watch Ohio State football and basketball. I know it doesn’t fit with the blog, but that’s who I am.
3That was like nine months ago. I like that each season is 15-17 straight weeks of new episodes, but the trade-off is to wait those nine months between a season-ending cliffhanger and the big reveal at the start of the next season.
4Of course, besides some videos and chat boards, I’m talking about all the spoilers out there. When a season was moving a bit too slowly, I just checked some spoilers to wet my appetite.
5The idiot box, so to speak.
6Usually this element of a show loses me, but because it was slipped in subtly, after they already had audience buy-in, I’m rolling with it. Now, if I could just figure out what to do with the alternate reality/side-backs.
7Although a science fiction is the genre, Lost is more than that as it dances in and around reality.
8I have always loved that the characters are never good or bad. They just are. There’s a ton of layers to every character, giving the drama more depth than any other show on TV.
9 I realize these are not the Lips’ first six albums. This is just where my awareness of the Lips began. Also, I did not include Zaireeka because I don’t have that much time, patience, or CD players to make it work.
10Again, this is where my Lips fandom began.
11The Flaming Lips as we know them today.
12Pun intended and it is strange that Eko (among other characters of color) and the Lips’ Ronald Jones are no longer in the picture.
13Easily one of my favorite albums of all-time and certainly my favorite Lips’ effort.
14OK. I’m just getting lazy here.
15Way too late spoiler alert. Although, I think I already mentioned the parallel universe thing. Oh well. This post is slowly falling apart.