My Shambala

A friend of mine on Facebook posted a link to a version of Shambala a bit ago.  I can (and do) appreciate his posts, but for me there is only one version of Shambala.

I say sorry Jim, because Three Dog Night’s Shambala was part of an 8track of hits that they played at the Wichita County swimming pool (Leoti, KS) in 1976 (had to be 76. Summer of the bicentennial. Cross-country bicyclers hanging in the city park. Crazy year) and I had just learned to swim a few summers previously.  Swimming was my first love, and I say that as someone who just celebrated his 25th year of marriage, to someone I’m still deeply in love with; but even so, swimming remains my first love, a communion with nature itself for me.

Spending a carefree afternoon at the pool, eating icees and listening to music that wasn’t played anywhere else, as far as I could tell, was as close to pure joy that child me ever experienced. We waited for the pool to open, and for the weather to get warm enough that you didn’t freeze, and then every single day that I could get away, I’d ride my spyder down to the pool (got a ten speed later. Bicycling was my second love) and stay all day if I could get away with it.

In rural Kansas the only radio stations you could pick up reliably were country stations.  I can listen to just about any kind of music, so Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Merl Haggard and of course Johnny Cash (who was a ‘bad boy’ in my mother’s eyes if I remember correctly) figured highly in rotations for the stations that my parents tuned when I was a child, and I didn’t mind.

But the pool was supervised by high school students (with maybe a school coach checking in now and again) so the sound system they rigged up only played their music. The intro riff to Shambala plays, and I can smell the steam coming off the concrete decking, taste the ice cream, remember what it was like to be carefree.

It’s a weird coincidence that I remember the song at all.  The other song that I remember them playing I rediscovered long ago; it had a catchy refrain about a shaker of salt, and while I couldn’t ever figure out what he wanted salt for (I was pretty sure at the time I was hearing it wrong, water in the ears or something) I did eventually discover the song was Margaritaville, and I have been a parrothead ever since.

The weird coincidence? I was watching LOST with the Wife. She had gotten me interested in the show, and it became a bit of a weekly ritual to catch each episode as it aired. It was a pretty good episode we were watching that night. Season 3, episode 11. You know the one, if you were a fan. The episode was largely focused on two of my favorite characters in the show, Charlie and Hurley.  Hurley was certain he was cursed, that the numbers he used to win the lottery, the numbers that were on the hatch, those numbers had been a curse that had followed him and doomed him to this quasi-life he was experiencing on the island. Here is the crucial scene of the episode;

Lost S03E11 – Van Jumpstart with Road to Shambala

The song comes up, and the memory hits me like a blow to the head.  THAT SONG! I remember that song! It was like a trip to the past, so powerful it brought tears to my eyes (it still can) mom and dad were still happy together, Gramma & Grampa still breathing and living just a few blocks away to save me if I needed saving. The world was bright and full of promise…

…That was my Shambala. That time when everything was perfect (even though it never could have been as perfect as you remember it) all of the people you knew caught like insects in amber and preserved to be revisited. Like a mid-season, mid-run episode for a series that ended up going nowhere, but damn it was good in those few seasons where there was still mystery to be explored.

Except you really can’t go back there, because it never really existed in the first place. The rot was already present, present from the time before I was even born. Rot just festering there, waiting to let everything tear apart. Now that I’ve started losing my hearing, even the song itself is a memory that I replay.  I can’t really hear it like I did then, echoing off the hot concrete I would rest my head on to make my barely functioning sinuses open up and drain.

But the memory of the song is like a siren…

“Everyone is lucky, everyone is so kind, on the road to Shambala” 

Three Dog Night, Shambala

Television Midseason Debuts

Got my SciFi update from About the other day, giving me the low-down on all the new shows coming out midseason. There seem to be a lot of them. I hope this trend continues, because I’m truly tired of the rerun hell that usually abounds on television after about February.

Top of the list is one I’m going to make a point to miss. The ads for Sarah Connor Chronicles have looked so lame that not even the appearance of Summer Glau in the series will be enough to get this Firefly fan to tune in. Not even for one episode. I actually don’t need to write anything else on the subject, because the new editor over at About SciFi pretty well sums it up with this:

Is there anything left to say about Sarah and John Connor? Apparently. Not only is a fourth movie coming, but now Sarah Connor, inserted after T2, with Sarah (British actress Lena Headey) and 15-year-old John (Thomas Dekker, from Heroes) on the run from both contemporary authorities and cyborgs from the future. Watch creator Josh Friedman try to create jeopardy for characters whose complete past and future we already know! Watch the urbane Headey evoke unslakable yearning for Linda Hamilton’s angry growl and big biceps! Watch a series designed to revive a moribund franchise turn out to be completely inessential!

Don’ t believe me about the ads? Here’s one. Wish I could find the one that set me off; it was full of action and explosions, just like this one, and ended with a comment about mom fixing dinner. Sorry, just can’t suspend disbelief that far; I don’t want to risk brain damage by hitting myself in the head that hard.

There’s a reason why none of the dystopia stories seems to translate well to series television (and even seems to break down in sequel films) and it has to do with maintaining tension in the story on a week to week basis, and keeping it believable at the same time. I predict that this series will be every bit as lame as the Planet of the Apes television series was, and just as short lived.

On the other hand, I see that Jericho is up for a second season, and now I’m kicking myself for not having taken the time to watch the first. Several friends (whose opinions I trust) told me I needed to check it out when it first aired. Now I’m on the fence about coming in mid-story. I might take the time.

I doubt it, though. What with Torchwood (which I watch just for the fun of it) Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who all coming out with new shows (not to mention Ghost Hunters, Ghost Whisperer and other shows that I follow with The Wife. The fact that we watch Ghost Whisperer, Moonlight and Numb3rs has us tuned in to CBS pretty much all night Friday. Thank goodness for the PVR or I wouldn’t get to watch Stargate Atlantis and 20/20 as well) There was so much to watch last year, that I started watching both Bionic Woman and Journeyman, and had to drop them for lack of time (not to mention I just couldn’t seem to get into the shows. That goes double for Chuck. I’m sorry Adam, I just can’t go there) I’m quite glad that Heroes seems to be done for the season; I was getting near to letting that one drop off my radar as well.

The About SciFi¬†guide left LOST off the list (I guess it’s just not SciFi enough for them) That and Stargate Atlantis are the two shows I’m really looking forward to. I have no idea how they will maintain tension on LOST (which is sort of dystopic) either. After loosing their way in the second season, and going somewhere completely unexpected in the third, I don’t even want to hazard a guess about the rest of the series. I’m just hoping it ends as well as it began.

The Hanso Foundation

The Wife and I are movie weirdos. Long after the rest of the theatre is empty, after everyone else who was in the theatre is already in the parking lot trying to get into their cars and beat the traffic home, we’re still sitting there watching the rest of the film. The credits, that is. We’ve gotten into arguments with overly enthusiastic maintenance people many times over the years (‘scuse me, the film is STILL RUNNING!) but occasionally it pays off with a closing sequence or a recognized name. (The monkey at the end of Pirates, and the cat at the end of Slither) The latest time this happened was when we were watching the credits for MI-III. Apparently The Hanso Foundation invests in certain films as well as mucking with the space-time continuum (or whatever it is they are doing on LOST) Right there at the end of the credits, a thank you to the Hanso Foundation.

They’ve been running ads on LOST during the commercial breaks as well, kind of like the ads for “Oceanic Airlines” (found three sites for Oceanic, there was just this one. Now there is an 815 site and this one) in the first season episodes. Try calling Hanso’s number, or visiting the website(s). Excellent time wasters.

Still don’t have any clue what will happen next week. The series has already gone places I hadn’t expected (We watched the “tailies” for what reason now?) I hate to imagine what the teaser promise of “changes everything” and “what happens when the counter stops” means. I can imagine, but I’ll wait for the episode. And then wait for the fall sweeps for the other shoe to drop, just like always.

If this was survivor (which I’ll freely confess to never have watched) I know one LOSTaway that I’d like to see voted off the island right now…

I’ll just echo the Dharma Orientation film and say, “namaste and good luck”

LOST Map?

Another screen cap worth sharing. This one is not too clear, though. No matter how many times I tried to get a clear image, I just couldn’t pull it off. ( I need a better capture card, obviously) Never fear, there are others out there with access to better equipment (or they just took pictures of the actual props, who knows) Anyway, if you click on over to “The Tail Section” they have a diagram and an enhanced image that get into most of the details of the map. There are also a lot of places on the site that deal with spoilers and potential spoilers. This constitutes fair warning, once again.

I remember the promo for this episode, “Lockdown” saying 5 things would be revealed. I only counted 3. Obviously what is being revealed isn’t of clear importance… yet.

One of the best episodes so far this season.

LOST – What’s in a Name?

OK. I have to admit this up front. I had not been following this show until O.S. Card threw down the gauntlet last year concerning the worthlessness of Trek (Enterprise was worthless. It also wasn’t Trek. Well maybe Ber-Trek) and the praiseworthiness of ‘Lost’ (and ‘Smallville’. Don’t care what he says about that. His original comments can be found here) I accepted the challenge and took up watching ‘Lost’ just to see what the buzz was about.

Anyway… Trek bashing (by one of the better SF authors that I’ve read to date) aside, I’ve gotten hooked on Lost. It’s a pretty good show (still don’t know if I’d call it SciFi) the episodes are character and plot driven, and they are cut in such a way as to keep you interested in the show, even if you haven’t seen the beginning of the series. I started watching about 4 episodes before the season one finale, and kept right on watching as the repeats started airing. I found myself going “Oh, that explains the scene in the finale where…” and have to shut up, because no one else in the house was watching the finale when it aired previously and I didn’t want to give it away…

I’ve stumbled across more sites for this show than any other show I’ve watched. Example?

…and that’s an old list.

The obsession with names that the fans have (as illustrated here, and several other places) has been earned. Taking into account the meaning of the name “Desmond” (where did he go, anyway?) the symbology behind the Dharma logo, the Bagua (anyone else notice the black/white “swan” looks remarkably like a yin-yang?) and the meaning of the name “Dharma“. How about “Jack” and “John”, the two leaders who have the same first name, but couldn’t be more different.? Aaron, Claire’s child? Mr. Ecko? It seems that the writers are choosing names just to pique our interest. It’s not surprising, and has been done in SF series for years. But it still leads you to wonder…

…Which takes you to questioning where this is all going. Reading through the ideas presented at this link (WARNING, SPOILERS) might give you an idea.

But then maybe he, as well as the writers, don’t know where this is going. I’m still watching.