Vetiver are piling back in the van and making our way north next month. We’re looking forward to visiting some wayward spots like Nevada City and Bellingham, Yakima and Victoria, not to mention old faves like Sacramento and Vancouver. It’s been a while since we crossed that border.
Links for tickets are up on the LIVE page. See you soon!
“America through the eyes of two American Americans.”
One of my favorite podcasts and two very funny dudes. A killer website and great insights on the medium of media.
A little Muppet’s gem from the past. Peep these lyrics:
The Muppet Show: Dr Teeth - “Money” (by dorcm1973)
Last night I saw the newest Muppet’s movie at a three theater movie house in Bellingham. Surprisingly, this was the only theater in town still showing the movie. I thought the movie was still current enough, not to mention popular enough, to be playing in some of the stadium seating theaters. Apparently this was not the case. The movie plot relies heavily on the theme of the Muppets’ lack of popularity in today’s culture. Some of the funniest jokes were made at the expense of the Muppets, bringing to light the disconnection between today’s tech culture values and the receding low-tech era that the Muppets blossomed forth in.
The current “Muppet’s Musical”, co-written by Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), brings to life the plot line to the movie he wrote and starred in a few years ago. In Sarah Marshall, Segel’s heartbroken character finds redemption from his lost loves by writing and starring in a Dracula musical performed with puppets. In this Muppets movie Segel is given full license to all the cast and characters of the once popular Muppet shows. He obviously was a huge fan of the show, inserting dialogue that serves as shout outs to memorable moments from the past and shows how even with the elapsed years these characters haven’t changed at heart.
The current plot centers around an adventure to buy back the vacant Muppet’s stage and museum before oil man “Tex Richman” makes the purchase to set up oil drilling rigs on the land. Richman is played by Chris Cooper - an actor well versed in the artistic representation of angsty, angry, tight-wound characters (American Beauty, Adaptation). In one of my favorite scenes Cooper busts out of his squared suit and tie shell and reveals his character’s inner motives through a rap verse. The rap -presumably written by Bret McKensie (Flight of the Conchords) - itself a Muppet’s historical first, is about making money, or dough, which is what Tex Richman is all about. But you can’t eat the dough he makes, says Richman, “cause there ain’t no flour in a $100 dollar bill!” The lyrics of the rap are spot on in a hillarious parody of the attitude of many of today’s popular rap game superstars towards their fascination with getting rich.
The film’s characters have a lot of analogous behaviors with humanity - not in the usual “big-screen” kind of qualities you see in movie star portrayals but in the sense of ordinary people, in ordinary life. The adventure that we participate in with the Muppets involves extraordinary circumstances however. Kermit leads us on a mission to regroup the entire cast, road tripping from Los Angeles to Reno and Paris for one more show - a telethon to raise $100 million in order to save the theater.
The movie is refreshing and unique. It puts us as viewers into a space where we must decide if we are willing, or for some - capable of momentarily dropping our defenses and forgoing our cynical mechanisms. To silence our pessimistic voices at least until we see how the Muppets - the “more human than human” characters with their optimistic and open hearted attitudes - fair against the limits and limitations imposed by real life circumstances.
It is fun to believe in them, the band of do-gooders, hippyish jokesters, and gentle misfits for the time we are with them. Hopefully there is also something permanent each of us takes away from Segel’s version of “The Muppet’s Musical.” Something to be a reminder in our own lives that “the show must go on.”
Dec 29, 2011
The thought I had this morning was about my varied career choices and the seasonal lifestyle in which I have lived these past several years. The thought came to me after listening to a Radiolab podcast entitled “Help!” The interviews featured people who had been scared literally to death into overcoming demons such as alcoholism, tricked themselves psychologically into quitting smoking, or in a creative sense found ways to forge relationships with their muses that allows for compromise and interaction with these unseen forces. “Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert was featured. She mentioned an interview she had conducted with Tom Waits where he discussed his process on how his songs and albums are created. Each song has its own physical identity it comes into this world with, is what Waits told her. Some arrive in bits and fragments, some as whole pieces. Some must be bullied into fully revealing themselves, and others cared for like an underdeveloped newborn lest they give up and disintegrate. Gilbert mentioned an image I have thought on myself as well - that ideas and creative projects are encircling the atmosphere at all times and we can be the medium to bring them to fruition if we become the antenna that reaches up to receive them. “If you see an idea but don’t create it,” Gilbert said, “for its will is seeking manifestation - it will choose someone else to become transmitted through.”
How many times have you had an idea for a song, an invention, and waited, only to find the same idea produced later by someone else?
Gilbert says that these creative works - writing, painting, photography, films - are 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Put another way, she said, “that it’s 99% oyster and 1% pearl.” In her mind the commitment to the craft is what fosters the connection with the muse, angel, idea - whatever you want to call it. The work, work, work is done and the end is defined in reward from above or beyond by the inspiration delivered from something or somewhere outside of ourselves.
What I thought was important in both Gilbert’s and Waits’ styles was that they both interact physically, verbally, with their ideas, their muses, their projects. Gilbert talks to her ideas and records the conversations much like the process of automatic writing used by the author of the Celestine Prophecy. The book somewhat writes itself. Waits on the other hand will scream at his unfinished songs, converse with them, bargain with them - but he fully acknowledges them as beings.
Again, the dedication to his craft is what makes Waits a musician - not necessarily his talent. Theoretically he would be just as much a musician without his fame as with it. The point is he continually writes songs and plays them. For him it may be a biological need necessary to sustain something living within.
So what would I say that “I” am? What is it that I must do regardless of compensation, limitation? I could say that in the past several years adventuring has been what I “must” do. I’ve moved from place to place exploring, discovering, working, and learning. I’ve used photography all the while and journaling more recently as a method of documenting my travels and adventures. Does that make me an adventurer?
My adventures have been productive and creativity has been a product of them. There have been others here on Earth that have made a life, or at least a large part of a life, upon adventuring. (Google “Sir Richard Burton.”) Some have pursued adventures and explorations in the disciplines of science and research, others purely for documentary purposes, others seeking riches or resources, some to plunder, some to exploit, some to preserve, some to escape; but all have gone and as a result expanded their minds, experienced something new and different.
Though my life in recent years has been dedicated to my travels and my adventures I wouldn’t say that it was a conscious dedication to a craft such as a musician or a writer, it was simply what I was doing at the time - seeking opportunity and following through with my wits and my work ethic. Right now though it has become conscious, it is a definable lifestyle.
Dec 26, 2011
Round and round the wheel (or wheels) we go. This has been my second Christmas away from home, and it really feels as though it was my first. I forgot, and my family has forgotten that I spent Christmas in Kenya three years ago.
I’m feeling sort of fragile right now. I’m having night fits and scaring Kaitlin in her sleep. We are on opposite schedules - I work nights she works days - and need to re-connect as partners in this experience. We are both growing and both in need of our individual paths. I really hope that we will converge again before we are to leave this place in the spring.
The experiences of last week have been largely about faith. How would I live if the angels - the positive energy forces outside of myself, that I “feel” around me, supporting me - were to disappear? What would I have Faith in then?
These thoughts of “what to do with my life” are coming up, but any attempts to answer them haven’t happened…