Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jacob's Foot: LOST and The Mars Volta

Written by Chris Monigle

Gotta love independent movies and OnDemand. Right now, if I so chose, and for the modest price of 6.99 and 9.99 respectively, I could watch the French movie Summer Hours or the Soderbergh picture starring that porn star everybody is wild about, and I'm not sure why. I'm interested in both. In fact, I think today is the last day I can watch The Girlfriend Experience OnDemand. But here's the thing: it's 78 minutes. Paying 9.99 for 78 minutes. But then a new Woody Allen DVD with no extras and a film that runs 90 minutes is sold for 21.99 or something. So, why do I run away from a 9.99 movie in theaters OnDemand and embrace 21.99 DVDS? That's actually a trick question: I buy DVDs as cheap as possible. The likely candidate to be watched soon is Summer Hours. Foreign films have the ability to tell good stories with actual substance. The movies currently playing in lovable corporate multi-plexes (and can be viewed for the fantastic price of 10.25 a ticket) barely ever leave me with the feeling that the 10.25 was worth it. I'd like to see Hugh Jackman be a badass as much as anybody but not for 10.25 and especially not when (I'm pretty sure) Roger Ebert spoiled the entire ending. The last movie I saw in the theaters (I Love You, Man) entertained me. I enjoyed it. But...bleeding 10.25 for that? I alternately love and hate HBO. Sometimes, they constantly play trash. Other times, I can watch Kung Fu Panda up to 4 times in one day. It's fantastic. I've watched Fred Claus, no matter what part, whenever it's on. In fact, I've literally never paid to see Kung Fu Panda. I worked in a movie theater last summer. The point: I am stingy. I feel like I've slighted The Girlfriend Experience though since I made an elitist-blowhard statement about foreign films. The Girlfriend Experience has been getting great reviews. There are many American films that deliver and don't make you hate yourself for spending an hours + wage on a movie such as Rian Johnson's 'Brick,' and Linklater's 'Before Sunrise' and 'Before Sunset,' and, for good measure, 'Waking Life.' Another point: I'm not sure what my point is because the purpose of this entry is to compare The Mars Volta and LOST. Maybe the point is that I'd like more movies to be offered OnDemand. Probably not though. That's a lame thesis. How about all you deconstructionists and post-structuralists come out of hiding and tell me what the meaning of this paragraph is since I, the author, do not exist? I don't know. This whole paragraph is a trainwreck.

Here's the deal for the forseeable future of my blog, Jacob's Foot: as LOST won't be back until January 2010 (which sucks), the blog will branch out into other areas of entertainment and sports (oh yeah. i'm a sports addict). It is my plan to devote space to LOST each and every week until January 2010. I'll post some old things I've written about episodes and seasons past and I'll write new material for the show. I will be writing about my favorite season five moments sometime in the future. I'll be doing crazy stuff like I am today with comparing Mars Volta and LOST. As for the branching out part, I'll be writing about two shows that have been off the air for over five years (Buffy and ANGEL). I've seen the entirety of both series more than once so I'll probably just write down random thoughts about a random episode or season. I'll write about Dollhouse a bit as well. The big thing will come in September: I will be bringing my weekly NFL picks to Jacob's Foot. I've been writing weekly picks for the last three years. I usually post them every Thursday because I read Bill Simmons' NFL picks every Friday. It's like how I am with LOST. I don't want anything to influence what I write. I want my thoughts to be me and me only. During the summer, I might try to interview a band or something and post it here. I've been reading some David Foster Wallace nonfiction so I might report on some things (for instance my 3 days down the shore with friends). The possibilities are endless. Anywho...


[caption id="attachment_593" align="alignnone" width="1024" caption="The Season 3 cast. Emilie de Ravin looks absolutely fantastic."]The Season 3 cast. Emilie de Ravin looks absolutely fantastic.[/caption]

I've finally arrived at the purpose for this entry. The Mars Volta are one of my favorite bands. They've made two brilliant records, a great record, and a good record. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez never runs dry of ideas for a record, never fails in the execution of a record, and always finds the best musicians to play the music he's written. Cedric Bixler-Zavala's voice is a perfect complement to Omar's music. I figure there is no better way to, sort of, discuss the Mars Volta records than comparing them to seasons of LOST. There are only four full-length Mars Volta records and five seasons of LOST (well five Mars Volta if you count the live album but I won't count it). Believe me, I'm aware. But it all works out. 



[caption id="attachment_589" align="alignnone" width="250" caption="The First Season Poster"]The First Season Poster[/caption]

The first season of LOST was some experience. I began watching the show because of the involvement of David Fury, a former writer of ANGEL and Buffy. The year was 2004. Autumn to be exact. ANGEL had ended its run in May of 2004. It sucked. I began watching Buffy during my junior year of high school and ANGEL in the summer before my senior year. In fact, my first ANGEL episode was season four's 'Orpheus.' Blew me away. But I digress. I enjoyed LOST immensly. It was riveting, exciting, and it had the best storytelling on television (since theWB cancelled the last Joss show on TV). And then LOST aired 'Solitary' on November 17, 2004. It's that episode which made me into the guy who writes 4,000 words about a finale. Coincidentally enough, David Fury wrote 'Solitary.' Solitary introduced the whispers, The Sickness, the idea of The Others. It was awesome. I remember how I felt when Sayid heard the whispers in the jungle as he headed back to camp. And then the following week was the episode when Claire was kidnapped...fantastic. Season 1, as a whole, tells great, great stories full of nuance and feeling. The location is beautiful. Giacchino's music is beautiful. I think his greatest composition is the one that plays when the raft takes off. Vincent chases after the boat. It's a moment of triumph. It's among my favorite scenes of LOST. The first season is 25 episodes. Very few shows can produce a quality 25 episode season. The Office, it seems, failed to put together a consistent season with 26 episodes. Heroes, as always, faltered with a 25 episode third season. LOST never did in the first season. There isn't a single weak episode in season one. 


[caption id="attachment_594" align="alignnone" width="200" caption="Go to and listen to this record"]Go to and listen to this record[/caption]

The first album of The Mars Volta clocks in at over 75+ minutes. 10 tracks of exceptional music. I discovered the band on MTV2 when I watched the video for 'Inertiatic ESP'. Great, great song. The atmosphere of the album begins with the opener 'Son et Lumiere' and the atmosphere continues throughout the record. It's an emotinal and beautiful record. Inspired by a short story of Cedric's and the late Jeremy Ward, it tells the story of Cerpin Taxt who attempts to commit suicide by overdosing on a mixture of rat poison and morphine. He lands in a week-long coma in which he experiences visions of humanity and his own psyche. Upon awakening, he is dissatisfied with the real world and successfully kills himself by jumping to his death. The story was inspired by the death of their friend Julio Venegas. The emotion is palpable throughout the 75+ minutes. There's amazing crescendos and decrescendos throughout (absolutely fantastic in 'Roulette Dares), beautiful interludes and ambience. I think it's their best. The totality never fails to move me as a listener. The interlude in 'Take The Veil Cerpin Taxt' is mind-blowing. It's not complicated musically nor is it simple. It's just right. 'Cicatriz ESP' is an up-and-down whirlwind musical experience. The album surprises with beautiful simplicity out of nowhere, emerging from chaos. 'Drunkship of Lanterns' builds and builds and builds, and when it bursts, it's bloody fantastic. I think the album is my favorite of the four. But it's close. You'll see.


[caption id="attachment_591" align="alignnone" width="250" caption="A brilliant and fantastic season"]A brilliant and fantastic season[/caption]

It gets a little tricky here, you of my 750,000 readership. I was hoping like hell season three of LOST wouldn't be like season two. I'll dive into season two more at its proper place but, suffice to say, I didn't want to be disappointed by season three of LOST. I was not at all. I often am privy to declaring season three to be my favorite of LOST. Once the season returned from the three-month hiatus in February 2007 after the first six of season three, I knew the show I love was back the way I wanted it. What solidified that for me was Desmond's 'Flashes Before Your Eyes,' an episode that revealed what happened to Desmond after the Hatch explosion/implosion. A gem of an episode. Time-travel is introduced into the show. Emotional character story for Desmond. Charlie being told that he's gonna have to die. After that episode, LOST could do no wrong. They struck a great balance between revealing things about the Island (New Otherton/Locke's adventures/Jack being there, ect) and flashbacks that revealed new layers to the characters. It wasn't the re-hash I felt was going on in season two. Until 'Whatever Happened, Happened,' 'Left Behind' was my favorite Kate episode. 'Par Avion' is my favorite Claire episode. 'Further Instructions' is an underrated Locke episode. 'Catch-22' is a great Desmond episode (Flashes is better of course). It's a great Locke season which features his Island tour of blowing things up. Fantastic Ben/Locke moments. I love, love, love the Island stories like Hurley conning Sawyer into being decent. Season Three is terrific. My favorite Juliet episode is in season three 'One of Us.' The great unkillable Mikhail is in season three and Charlie's arc was fantastic. 'Greatest Hits' is among LOST's best. And, then, of course, the finale features a flash back with the infamous line by Jack: 'WE HAVE TO GO BACK!' I get goosebumps just writing about it. It's no coincidence that the story tightened once Lindelof and Cuse got an end-date from ABC. Season Three tells a terrific story. There's catharsis (The Brig with Sawyer) and Sawyer finally gets Tom for taking the kid off the raft. It's an extremely satisfying season and has terrific re-watch value. I've seen the episodes multiple times and never tire of them. Even 'Stranger in a Strange Land,' Jack's tattoo episode, is better on re-watch (when that originally aired, it ruined STEVE's week. he hates that episode). I love season three. 

[caption id="attachment_595" align="alignnone" width="200" caption="only these names i clutch will bring me to my home. OOOO YEAH"]only these names i clutch will bring me to my home. OOOO YEAH[/caption]

Frances The Mute is the second album of The Mars Volta. I remember listening to it during my senior year of high school (fantastic year all-in-all: first season of LOST, The Everglow by Mae, Frances The Mute by the Mars Volta, Kairos, and general kick-ass stuff with school and friends and whatnot). It's five tracks. The label forced the band to divide it up into 12 tracks though there are just five songs. There are 4 songs that are over 12+ minutes song. The Widow is the shortest at just over 4 minutes. The record was inspired by a diary the late Jeremy Ward found in his days as a repo man, and noted the similarities between his life and the author--they were both adopted. The diary told of the author's search for his parents. Frances The Mutes follows this story. The opener 'Cygmund...Vismund Cygnus' opens acoustically before kicking into drive as Cedric flips between the English and Spanish language. The breakdown in 'Cygmund' is terrific. It's simple. It breaks down and then begins to build back up again into the thesis of the record 'only these names I clutch will bring me to my home.' Musically, Omar upped the ante. Each member recorded their parts separately--a technique Miles Davis implemented: refused to let members know the other members part, forcing each to play their part as if it were a self-sufficient song. Each member recorded to the pulse of a metronome. The Red Hot Chili Peppers' John Frusciante plays on the record and Flea (who played bass on De-Loused) plays the trumpet. The final song 'Cassandra Gemini' is 32 minutes. There's absolutely no filler in it either. Omar covers a whole range of musical styles in Cassandra: jazz, latin, jazz fusion, etc. I'm all about the music with the Mars Volta. I don't put alot into the lyrics. Cedric's voice is another instrument. Cedric's not as good on Frances as he on Deloused on Bedlam but he's pretty good. Frances The Mute is a remarkable album though.



[caption id="attachment_81" align="alignnone" width="235" caption="What a poster. I want to marry it."]What a poster. I want to marry it.[/caption]

There's plenty of already written things for the fifth season of LOST so I'll keep it brief. The Time-Travel season. The first five episodes of season five are frantic and jump from time to time while telling some damn good stories. The season settles down once the Oceanic 6 get back to the Island. The season did a good job going back to the past to prepare everyone for the future. I feel like the season was geared toward the fans who never left. It really dove into the mythology of the show at, literally, the expense of characters. Barely any Desmond. No Claire. Strings of episodes set in Dharma. No Dharma when they were in 2007. But everything was very cohesive by the time the finale came. Nothing felt forced. I loved the emphasis of the themes of redemption and destiny as we saw with Sayid and his struggle with his demons, Jack developing a Lockean disposition. 'The Incident' is quite simply fantastic. Not a weak moment in the entire episode. Lindelof, Cuse, and the writers took a bold chance by moving the show 3 years. It didn't get talked about much and I barely wrote about it but its worth bringing up because of how Sayid, Kate, and Jack changed off-the-Island. Season Five was about the past, the present, and the future and, perhaps, the importance of time and time's relation with destiny, and destiny and the Island bringing these characters to places where they played a vital role in what became their present. It's my favorite Ben season. I enjoyed Ben as a defeated man. Desmond's episode kicked ass. Loved the scene with him talking about England to his son. I enjoyed the character development of Jack and Sawyer. Loved everything with Locke and "Locke". I liked experiencing Dharma. I liked meeting Radzinsky and the development of Goodspeed. That scene with a hungover, depressed Goodspeed and Sawyer is among my favorite moments of the season. I liked that Miles actually resolved his daddy issues. Loved Pierre Chang. He was hilarious. So yeah, Season Five is very good. I'm sure I'll more about season five in the future.


[caption id="attachment_596" align="alignnone" width="200" caption="This is a wild album. Conjucal Burns is wicked."]This is a wild album. Conjucal Burns is wicked.[/caption]

'Bedlam in Goliath' is a wild album. It's not as experimental or progressive as the previous three Mars Volta record. It's more straight-forward. The album doesn't slow down until 'Torniquet Man.' 'Goliath' is an chaotic song that is amazin. The story behind the album is that it was born out of an Oujia board Omar bought for Cedric while in Jerusalem. They dubbed it 'The Soothsayer' as it would give names, make demands, and were contacted by three different people who were of one form--Goliath. The band claim Goliath haunted the studio where they recorded and nearly ruined the record. The album chronicles this Goliath. It's a kick-ass record and it brought the kick-ass back to The Mars Volta (they may have gotten too lax with Amputecture'). The album is also the first without Jon Theodore. Thomas Pridgen (who is out of this world on the album) replaced drummer Jon Theodore. It's an album that is very tight musically. Thematically, it deals with religion and spirituality. 'Soothsayer' begins with a religious song/chant/whatever you want to call it. 'Cavalettas' dives into the world of Goliath and the chaos he brought into the band. It's a very good record. I enjoy it immensley. 


[caption id="attachment_590" align="alignnone" width="250" caption="The season two poster. It's like an old school Royal Rumble poster."]The season two poster. It's like an old school Royal Rumble poster.[/caption]

The second season of LOST sits better with me now than it once did. Season two suffered from re-runs. It felt like ABC would air two new weeks of LOST followed by five weeks of re-runs and so on and so on. Season two has some great stuff. For instance, the introduction of Desmond and the Dharma Intiative, the button question, the introduction of Ben. I never cared for Ana Lucia though. I didn't really care about What Kate Did when season two rolled around, I was mostly anticipating The Others and never really got it until the end of the season. I felt like the flashbacks were re-hashing things we already knew about characters. It's in no way a perfect season but it's not terrible. It's good. Sayid's episode is a highlight as is 'Man of Science, Man of Faith,' 'Orientation,' 'Everybody Hates Hugo,' 'Lockdown,' 'The 23rd Psalm,' 'Live Together, Die Alone,' and '?'. I still love the confrontation between Tom and Jack, Sawyer, and Locke in 'The Hunting Party.' I think the season suffered from the no-end date though. 


[caption id="attachment_592" align="alignnone" width="200" caption="Don't bother with the final song on this album."]Don't bother with the final song on this album.[/caption]

'Amputechture' isn't a bad Mars Volta album. It just doesn't have that 'hook' that the others have. I love the opening track as well as 'Viscera Eyes' and 'Day of the Baphomets.' 'Tetragrammaton' is very cool. I'm a big fan of the lyrical output of the record. The music isn't as good though. Cedric said this about the album: 

"This album's a commentary about the fear of God instead of the love of God, which goes hand-in-hand with Catholicism...To me, religion is the reason there is so much conflict in this world, and I think it's just so unnecessary to believe in this blue-eyed, white-bearded, white-haired God. Amputechture is my personal way of describing enlightenment, or just the celebration of this person who is a shaman and not a crazy person. It's about the pineal gland and how it has certain elements that mimic a DMT experience, and how we can come up with cures for cancer and AIDS if we're more in tune with what's going on in the rainforest."



[caption id="attachment_588" align="alignnone" width="250" caption="Love this one. It's neat."]Love this one. It's neat.[/caption]

Since there's no other albums of The Mars Volta, Season Four stands apart from what I was doing but I still wanted to write about season four. The season opened with a bang (Hurley yelling 'I'm one of the Oceanic 6) which really set up everything. Throughout, I wondered who was also part of the Oceanic 6, wondered who would live and die on the Island. The finale was intense, folks. I was yelling at the television, pacing, standing, sitting, etc. The knowledge that the Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Aaron, and Sun got off didn't kill my enjoyment at all because I was left wondering what happened to those on the Island. I was prepared for anything in that finale. I still remember my jaw-dropping when it was revealed Kate had Aaron in Eggtown. The Constant is one of the best of LOST. Henry Ian Cusick shines in that episode. As I wrote previously, Hurley's arc is great. I really dug his 'I talk to dead people' angle. 'The Beginning of the End' is, maybe, my favorite Hurley episode. I liked that the series devoted an episode to Charlie's death and the characters reaction. Hurley's speech (I'm listening to my friend! I'm listening to Charlie), Jack thinking about Charlie with Kate at the Fuselage (a call back to the Pilot), Claire's reaction Charlie. Season Four also brought us Faraday, Miles, Frank, and Charlotte. The finale offered a few surprises such as Desmond reuniting with Penny and Frank getting off of the Island. We also got closure on the story of Michael. 'Meet Kevin Johnson' was a highlight because we got to see how Michael dealt with his own past. It also was something that the Island would not let Michael die. Keamy was a great villain. I remember the scene when Juliet told Jin that Sun cheated on him in 'Ji Yeon.' Very shocking, folks. All-in-all, season four is terrific. I feared that the writer's strike would kill it but it didn't. It's a very quality season. 'The Shape of Things To Come' is great for many reasons. Here's one: I loved that it opened with Ben after turning the donkey wheel. Loved Sawyer being a badass. Didn't love Keamy blowing up Claire's house. Season Four is fantastic. 

Believe-you-me, readers, this is not the last time I write about any of these seasons. I got really into writing about each. That was fun. Hope you enjoyed reading about it. Here's some other random thoughts:

--I'm watching 'Field Of Dreams' as I write this. It's a great movie. I will use this movie (as Simmons does) to determine whether or not a woman has a soul. The poignant thing about this movie now besides the many poignant moments in the film is that the Phillies video team used the Field of Dreams music in their tribute video to Harry the K. It gets a little dusty when I hear the music and think of Harry the K. Phillies baseball isn't the same without him.

--I maintain that the saddest scene in ANGEL is when Angel says goodbye to baby Connor in season three's 'Sleep Tight' because I know everything that happens after that moment. I don't want to spoil things for anyone planning on watching ANGEL but I dare anyone find me a sadder moment than that, taking in account the totality of the series.

--It's that time of the year where I begin making moves in fantasy baseball. I tend to wait 2 months to to assess players. I've made some moves and I am now wondering when to pull the trigger on fixing my pitching. My problem in fantasy is that I'm loyal. I like the guys I draft to be the guys I win with. My i dont like the mets squad is pretty good but I need to turn around my pitching. I've got guys on my radar but the question indeed: when to begin change? MLB Network is also my favorite channel. 

I think I'm done. Have a splendid weekend, folks!


Quad Blogs » Jacob’s Foot: The Seven Week Preview for The Sixth and Final Season Begins! said...

[...] I know I’ve done a variation of this when I compared seasons of LOST with The Mars Volta albu... This will be much less wordy I promise you but I have to do some set-up first [...]

john said...

Grosisima serie!!

About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.