Aliens, Monks And The Kumbaya Moment

October 6, 2010

I stumbled down a rabbit hole in cyberspace the other day. One moment I was reading the comments on an article posted on Newsweek‘s site; the next I was searching for information on one of the commentator’s claims.

The comment referenced speculation about what would happen in 2012.

According to a piece in the India Daily from six years ago, Tibetan monks expect aliens to arrive in 2012 , clink the heads of the humans together like Moe did the other Stooges and get us to quit engaging in jackassery.

There are also folks that believe aliens have bases in the Himilayas.

It’s entirely possible I suppose.

It seems that every religion on the planet has followers that are militantly enthusiastic, but, if there are militant Buddhists, I haven’t heard about them.

Traveling in Thailand, I often saw Buddhist monks, clad in their bright orange robes. It was not uncommon to come across one of them sitting in prayer or meditation in the middle of the sidewalk as the flow of pedestrians gave a respectful berth.

After travelling however many thousands of light years to some strange world, who wouldn’t opt to attempt communication with the beings that seem to be calm, cool, and collected?

(as opposed to the ones behaving like poop-flinging monkeys)

It makes total sense that Buddhist monks would be sought out by the aliens.

As someone that is still transfixed when I happen upon Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, I hope that this forthcoming alien experience resembles the one in that movie.

The visitors arrive with a lightshow that dazzles the humans with the ultimate – and peaceful – display of shock and awe.

Then, Buddhist monks make the introductions.

The bobble-headed, child-like aliens are a global sensation.

Children love them.

Adults are charmed by them.

Madonna makes an embarassing attempt to adopt one.

The world’s leaders are called to the mothership for a trip to the galactic principal’s office and everyone on planet Earth gets a whole lot more humble.

(given the situation in Tibet, I’d think the Chinese would feel rather awkward)

And everyone lives happily ever after.

Yeah. It all makes sense.

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind arrived in theaters in mid-November, 1977. Thirty-three years ago, I was nine-years old and eagerly anticipating the film’s release. I had minimal interest in music, but here is a quartet of songs that were on Billboard‘s charts during this week in 1977…

Electric Light Orchestra – Telephone Line
from Strange Magic: The Best Of Electric Light Orchestra

ELO is one of those bands that is always welcome to shuffle up on the iPod. I can’t say that I’m familiar with much beyond their hits (though there were plenty of those for the band in the ’70s).

I know that the group gets slagged some for being some pale imitation of The Beatles, but, if you’re going to imitate an act, you could do far worse, yes? And Telephone Line is simply gorgeous and angelic.

The Carpenters – Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft
from Gold: 35th Anniversary Edition

I’ve loved The Carpenters since hearing them on the radio during their ridiculous string of hits in the early ’70s. The radio wasn’t on too often in our household, but it was usually on in the car and, if it was on, there was rarely a long wait to hear something from the duo.

Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft is a cover of a song by Klaatu (who, like ELO, had their own connection to The Beatles).

This song has really grown on me over the years. I don’t really recall hearing it back in the day, but it has a wonderfully spacey vibe, an odd, yet endearingly jaunty midsection and, as always, Karen’s voice makes it worth the price of admission.

(and, it happens to suit the subject at hand well)

Styx – Come Sail Away
from The Grand Illusion

I’ve noted that Styx – on their infamous Kilroy Was Here tour – was my first concert.

But years before, my buddy Beej’s older brother had The Grand Illusion on eight-track and I was fascinated by the cover. We’d hang out in Beej’s basement and blast the album until parental supervision intervened.

(and, like The Carpenters’ song, this one also fits this post’s themes)

Foreigner – Cold As Ice
from Foreigner

Foreigner’s debut album also has a link to an older brother. Lynn, lived in our neighborhood with Evan, who was roughly the same age as me and my other friends. Sometimes we’d shoot hoops at their house.

As I think back to then, Lynn kind of resembled a young Axl Rose and, pondering him from thirty-years of experience, was undoubtedly a stoner. He drove a black Trans-Am and he’d tear through the neighborhood, Foreigner blaring from the eight-track player in the car.

(would a stoner have listened to Foreigner in 1977?)

Though the group received little love from critics, Foreigner put out some great songs, peaking with the mega-selling Foreigner 4 in ’81. The dramatic Cold As Ice has all of the things – a nifty balance between guitar and keyboards, soaring vocals, and immediately memorable choruses – that made Foreigner a high school staple.

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That’s Right, The King Is Going To Have Us All Fat And Happy

January 9, 2009

Rejoice remote Thai villagers, Inuits of Greenland, and all other begrimed peoples who have yet to smell the bright lights of civilization. W was correct and freedom is on the march. But it won’t be any god, government or game show which will bring you the riches we in the modern world take for granted.

It will be a king. Specifically, The King.

I long ago declared allegiance to Burger King. Actually, fast food wasn’t often on the menu growing up, but once I got to college and occasionally opted for a burger from under a sunlamp, it was the flame-broiled goodness I would usually crave.

Burger Kings were plentiful in Southeast Asia when I had the opportunity to trek through that part of the world. I still cannot hear Def Leppard’s Rocket without picturing the girl at the counter in a Singapore BK Lounge. She sang along with that song (not quite at the top of her lungs) as she took an order from me and my friend Simon.

In one recent commercial, The King appears in a man’s yard. The man looks away and when he looks back, The King is right in front of him, standing on the porch offering a delicious breakfast sandwich.

Paloma finds it to be creepy. Yes, perhaps it is a bit creepy, but it’s also a wonderful thing.

In another series of ads, people from more isolated places around the world get to enjoy a Whopper. As you can imagine, the footage reveals it to be quite possibly the most amazing moments of their lives except for one Inuit fellow who declares that he still prefers seal meat.

(I hope this ungrateful bastard’s next encounter with Western culture involves a visit from PETA)

I also read the other day that obesity among most of the world’s population is skyrocketing (for various reasons). Finally, a global consensus on something.

So those of you dismayed by the state of the human race, take heart, because a glorious new age of peace and harmony, love and understanding, is coming – a portly new world order and we will all bow to The King.

Marillion – The King Of Sunset Town
I suppose it was never cool to admit liking Marillion, yes? But there is a chunk of their catalog which I do love and their album Season’s End would be on the list. I stumbled across it, not even knowing they had a new album, while in Thailand. Less rigidly progressive and looser conceptually, it was their first record with new singer Steve Hogarth, who immediately reminded me of Peter Gabriel.

Jellyfish – The King Is Half-Undressed
There’s little I could say in praise of Jellyfish which wasn’t covered quite nicely over at My Humps here.

R.E.M. – The King Of Comedy
1994’s Monster was the last time I truly cared about R.E.M. and I’d been with them most of the way up ‘til then (I was in college in the ‘80s; it was the law). I did like Monster and I thought that the King Of Comedy, a shimmering slab of ear candy, was an overlooked gem.

The Rave-Ups – Respectfully King Of Rain
I didn’t know the Rave-Ups were from Pittsburgh but apparently they were. I did know that Molly Ringwald was a friend of the band which led to them appearing in Pretty In Pink (performing the stellar Positively Lost Me). Respectfully King Of Rain is pretty wonderful, too.