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Sunday, December 13, 2009

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE WITH ABSINTHE VIA BLUE RAY

Over the past couple of weeks I have featured the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence chapter from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity. Thus, the conjunction of three totally unrelated elements nevertheless linked to the universe seemed particularly relevant on this weekend.


Here is what happened. I’ve long avoided adding SONY’s Blue Ray DVD player to my system because I didn’t think the quality improvement would be worth it. Well, the price dropped so significantly that I purchased one, had to find a BR DVD, so I got Across the Universe(ATU), a movie I had not previously seen, which featured no one you know, but Beatles music (32 songs). I could identify with finding myself generally out of my element on the Stanford (they used Princeton) campus, the Alice in Wonderland series of events, morphing into psychedelic transcendentalism. Hippy days in San Francisco mingling with what might have been Janis Joplin, Tina Turner and Jimmy Hendrix. All this brought me back to the first Battle of the Bands, an event I staged in Naalehu in 1967.


For no particular reason, I selected a Grande Absenthe (138 proof, and subtitled, Absinthe Originale) to sip with the flick. Now, absinthe has long been drunk, certainly by the early Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and during the Middle Ages, mostly for medicinal purposes. There is no worm in absinthe. The holy trinity of herbs are fennel, anise and wormwood. Here is what grande wormwood looks like:

It is just a unique plant, with a good amount of thujone, a compound that apparently is able to keep the mind clearer while inebriated. This bottle I poured was illegal in the U.S. until 2007. Absinthe is not hallucinogenic, but at 138 proof, very alcoholic.


Anyway, back to the movie, maybe it was the absinthe or the quality of the viewing, but I found it to be the most revealing movie ever. I never really considered the '60's to be a particularly relevant decade, but as I think about it now, it might have been my most important, for I graduated from Stanford, married Pearl, just escaped being sent to the Vietnam War and transitioned into graduate school. The movie went through all these motions, and while the songs themselves were sung by the characters who went by the name of those Beatles songs, the presentation was outstanding. Then, out of nowhere pops out Joe Cocker (and you might not necessarily recognize him), Bono (absolutely superb) and Eddie Izzard (the most memorable).


Vietnam was a key part of the film, and next month I visit Danang (China Beach), Hue, Saigon, Hanoi...then on to Cambodia. The movie Tigerland also comes to mind, as I had to spend some time at Fort Polk in Louisiana. As in ATU, my life was a complicated series of ups and downs in the sixties, including a very happy ending.


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