The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Archive for June 2017

Thirty 5Ks… #24-28 (Sometimes, You Just Gotta Believe)

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I have felt like shit lately.  Like shit shit.  Bad shit.  Dog shit.  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Dirty Harry Callahan, it’s that a lot of things can happen to dog shit.  It can be scraped up with a shovel off the ground.  It can dry up and blow away in the wind.  Or it can get stepped on and squashed.  I have been preferring any of those this last month instead of running.  And it’s easy to see why.  I’m worn out from the school year, I’m fighting humidity some races, and I’m coming into the months when I traditionally run like shit because I’m out of my usual school-year workout discipline.  It’s not a good time to be trying to wrap up this challenge.

“So take my advice and be careful…”

Not that how I feel matters.  Anything short of an injury is an excuse.  So regardless of how slow I’ve run, how crappy I’ve felt, and how many times I’ve stopped for water, or just plain stopped in the case of last Saturday’s race (I think it was called Run For Humidity, or Humidityfest 5K), I’ve still gotten out there.  But why?  Why go out there when I don’t feel like running?  Why go out there when I’m slowly feeling my mortality?  Dunno, exactly.  It’s what runners do, and some of them do it to the point of injury.

I don’t want to be injured, of course, but I also don’t really want to run.  And I especially don’t really want to run a 5K that supports a church, though I have in the past.  That didn’t stop me from trekking up to Walworth, Wisconsin last night for a twilight 5K to benefit a church.  The only thing I was looking forward to was that it was going to be a “fun run,” so no number, no medals, and no exact timing.  I guess, too, I was interested in putting #28 behind me at whatever cost.

Things didn’t start well.  I’ve been fighting a stiff and inflamed shoulder tendon from paddle boarding, and then found that I was having back cramps when I stepped out of my car.  My warm-up felt like I was running underwater, and my attitude was crap.  Still, the gun sounded and I was off with a bunch of people who looked like they were a lot happier to be out there than I was.  One woman was so daring that she ran the race barefoot.

I felt like I was pretty deep into the run when I figured there wouldn’t be a water station.  That was okay with me because I didn’t want the temptation to stop.  Then I came around a corner and down a straight stretch, and there was a water station.  Why would they put it so deep into the course?  Well, they didn’t.  A sign next to the station designated that we were at the halfway point.  Crap.  Crappity-crap-crap.

I took water, which I almost never do, and I guess it was a baptism.  I resumed my pace like I hadn’t stopped at all, and suddenly felt…  better.  Almost good.  Was it the power of the Lord emanating from the church?  I don’t know.  I don’t care what it was, actually.  I only care that at long last I felt good late in a race.  Maybe it was a reserve of adrenaline that had been dammed up inside me and finally broke loose.  Maybe my brain was telling me that it’s time to stop moping about getting older and being tired and blah blah blah.  My breathing was steady, my head was up with my eyes focused far ahead of me, and I didn’t feel a lick of discomfort from my shoulder or back.  I crossed the finish line a full minute faster than I have for the last few races, and tried not to exacerbate my shoulder and back problems by patting myself on the back.  I was glad I stuck it out and kept going, and happy to remember what running does for your head.

I’ve got two more races before I wrap this up, one in just three more days.  I don’t know when #30 is going to happen because of other summer plans, but I’ve still got plenty of time to get it knocked out before the clock expires on this year-long quest.

Written by seeker70

June 21, 2017 at 9:32 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The U2 Dilemma, Solved

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Photo courtesy of the lovely Heather Barnfield.

I was wrangling with a bit of a crisis three months ago when I blogged about U2 touring for the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree.  It seemed all I needed to do was announce the crisis in order to address it, and address it I did Sunday night.  I had decided shortly after my last post about the band formerly known as Feedback that I was going to take a chance and attend the concert.

The risk all along was that U2 (or more specifically, Bono) would turn in a crap effort.  I feared it would be a smoldering mess, and I didn’t much care to think that I would be reminded of said mess each time I listened to The Joshua Tree.  I tried not to think about that throughout the day Sunday as the girlfriend and I trekked down to Soldier Field and set up a tailgate.  I thought for a brief time that we might not see the concert since I had frustrations finding some decent scalped tickets, but things have a way of working out when you have the right attitude and you’ve got some ticket-scalping savvy.  We ended up in the press box without paying much more than we would have for general admission, and on our way to the suite I told myself that if someone questioned our journalistic gravitas that I would say, “Hey, I’ve got this blog I’ve written for the last nine years!”  Fortunately, it never came to that.

I had envisioned U2 diving right into the mystic soundscape that starts the album, and was ready for just that as we settled into our comfy office chairs and listened to the sounds of the opening act drift through the open windows.  However, U2 had different ideas.  They came out onto a thrust stage and played a few pre-Joshua Tree hits before retreating to the main stage and opening things up in front of a huge screen (I read it was 200′ x 45′).  Them not starting right into The Joshua Tree was my only disappointment.  Once they did get into it, magic happened.  They worked in front of a constant stream still photographs, short videos, and stylized black-and-white shots of them playing, all of which tuned into the original artwork of the album.  Perhaps most importantly, they kept their standard four-man setup and played largely without interrupting themselves.

It occurred to me shortly into the experience that the notion of touring for album anniversaries has a tremendous upside.  The reason being, the band hones themselves to a singular sound or era of their sound that they had previously mastered and had great success with.  It makes for a more cohesive experience than a vaguely connected series of new songs and old hits that are the staple of a lot of concerts.  I realized that was why I loved seeing The Who play Quadrophenia in 2012.  It was the best I had seen them, before or since.  It was the same way with U2 last night.

I found myself fully engrossed by the time the band got through the three top hits at the start of The Joshua Tree.  I knew we were witnessing something special, and I was glad for that “warm-up” before U2 got into the blistering guitar rage of “Bullet the Blue Sky,” the most politically charged song on the album, and a perfectly intact remnant of the band’s youthful anger and rebellion.  I liked what Greg Kot of The Chicago Tribune said about “Bullet” and the song it preceded:  “There was no way to improve the one-two punch of ‘Bullet the Blue Sky’ as the Edge’s guitar violence melted into the hushed junkie prayer ‘Running to Stand Still.'”

Kot also thought that “Exit,” later in the playlist, “…strained to make an impression as something more than a psychodrama… and served as a poor introduction for the mourning song ‘Mothers of the Disappeared.’”  It’s not right that he faults the song or the band’s treatment of it for not doing something that it was never intended to do, or that he marks it down for being psychodrama.  It’s the fact that the band takes the psychodrama and finds a way to make it fit with the rest of the album’s soundscape that makes “Exit” one of my favorites.  And lyrically, it’s not some cliche treatment of disturbing psychosis.  It’s edgy and uncomfortable; you don’t leave the song feeling a sense of redemption or hopefulness, and it’s fine the song does that on an album that otherwise doesn’t feature many other similar experiences.  Kot also lobbied for some reshuffling of the album tracks for better cohesion, which misses the point that it was The Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary tour, not The Joshua Tree Remixed tour.  Kot can say what he wants, but those perceived deficiencies never stopped The Joshua Tree from earning tremendous accolades when it was released, nor have they done much, if anything, to dislodge The Joshua Tree from it’s place in rock history.  Still, regarding “Exit,” U2 nailed the gritty desperation in the song, abandoning the still shots and short videos to focus on Bono and flashes of white light and deep darkness as he worked through the song.  The band appeared to have given a lot of thought to the song, and it got a strong treatment, moreso than what they gave it thirty year ago in Rattle and Hum.

Ultimately, the concert was excellent beyond my greatest imaginings, but it’s not going to bring me back to being a U2 fan.  It will take a lot more than that, though more efforts in the future like The Joshua Tree and Unforgettable Fire could tilt me in that direction.  But my intention in going was never to reassert my fandom—it was to put a cap on a resounding aspect of my personal pop culture / media experiences.  Mission accomplished.  So where to from here?  Dunno.  And I don’t care to know.  I just saw my favorite album played with superb quality by all the original writers and musicians in the band.  I’ll be happy with that for a long time, and remember it at least as often as I listen to The Joshua Tree in the future.

Written by seeker70

June 5, 2017 at 11:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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