Warning: A beautiful day is in progress at this very moment, the trees are blooming, I have much to do today and a yoga class starts at the gym in one hour. Translation: Expect short shrift. Here, have a few crumbs from the table.
From reading the message boards here and there, it’s plain there are two kinds of Sopranos fans in the world: The kind who want lots of mob business and whackage, and the kind who are content to watch Edie Falco reinvent denial every week in intense kitchen scenes. I’m the second kind. In fact, the mob whackage sort of gets in the way. We’ve had two in the last two weeks, and in both cases I’m thinking, “Who is this? And why do I care?” For us, the mob story is only the frame; the canvas is the psychological drama of watching Tony try to keep family away from Family, and failing. In these last few episodes, we — I, anyway — want some payoff. We want to see him finally pay, and pay dearly, for the life he’s led.
Well, the payback has begun, and, true to form, it’s a bitch. His outburst at Carmella over her spec house might as well have been made to the mirror. In Vito Jr., there’s yet another reminder of the toll mob life takes on a family. The gambling, particularly ironic in that Tony has always referred to such people as “degenerate gamblers,” is self-abuse. As for me, I’m keeping a copy of “The Western Lands” close, because I think that’s the key:
The ancient Egyptians postulated seven souls. Top soul, and the first to leave at the moment of death, is Ren, the Secret Name. This corresponds to my Director. He directs the film of your life from conception to death. The Secret Name is the title of your film. When you die, that’s where Ren came in.
Second soul, and second one off the sinking ship, is Sekem: Energy, Power, Light. The Director gives the orders, Sekem presses the right buttons.
Number three is Khu, the Guardian Angel. He, she, or it is third man out, depicted as flying away across a full moon, a bird with luminous wings and head of light. Sort of thing you might see on a screen in an Indian restaurant in Panama. The Khu is responsible for the subject and can be injured in his defense — but not permanently, since the first three souls are eternal. They go back to Heaven for another vessel.
The four remaining souls must take their chances with the subject in the Land of the Dead.
Number four is Ba, the heart, often treacherous. This is a hawk’s body with your face on it, shrunk down to the size of a fist. Many a hero has been brought down, like Samson, by a perfidious Ba.
Number five is Ka, the Double, most closely associated with the subject. The Ka, which usually reaches adolescence at the time of bodily death, is the only reliable guide through the Land of the Dead to the western lands.
Number six is Khaibit, the Shadow, Memory, your whole past conditioning from this and other lives.
Number seven is Sekhu, the Remains.
So. Speaking of seven souls, I see Warren Zevon’s ex-wife has not only published a book, it’s a book about her ex, and it was done at his request. What’s more, it sounds…not terrible:
The Mr. Zevon on these pages is surprisingly image-conscious, abusive, petty, jealous, sordid, vain, shopaholic and even banal; among his obsessive-compulsive tics was buying the same kind of gray T-shirt over and over again. His diary entries often focus on such things, so they are less scintillating than the literary lyrics for which he is known. Among the livelier entries is this one: “Went over to Ryan’s. Later in the evening I got stuck in the elevator — Fire Dept. had to come. Not as much fun as it sounds.”
But this lack of show-business artifice is precisely what makes the Zevon story so telling. What was even more unusual than his dark thoughts — like resenting the fact that Jackson Browne and Neil Young had lost people close to them and written beautiful, much-admired songs about those deaths — was his willingness to admit to those thoughts. On his deathbed, discussing the merits of having a funeral, he said, “I just don’t want to have to spend my last days wondering whether Henley” — Don Henley of the Eagles, who did not attend — “will show up.”
I guess that’s next on the nightstand.
You know those people who kill family members and then hide the bodies in freezers? Do you ever wonder what goes on inside their heads? Wonder no more. The DetNews offers an odd demi-interview with one of these guys, pegged to a more recent dismemberment murder hereabouts. It’s hilarious at many levels, including the one where, after a shockingly brief sentence (10 years), the killer says his crime is “water over the dam,” and that he paid his debt to society. And the banal details: “For three years and three months, (the body) lay atop frozen hamburger and kielbasa wrapped in brown butcher paper.” On the other hand, it sounds like no one missed the wife, who slept with her daughter’s boyfriend, among other unmotherly things.
Finally, in the thick of journalism awards season, congrats to our old pal Ron, winner of the coveted (because all awards must be described so) Golden Wheel.
Time for downward dog. Woof.