OK, so the Texas Classic is in 3 days, and I'm utterly and completely obsessing about it.
No joke. And this is really bugging me, because I'm worried that by obsessing so much I'm going to completely psyche myself out for the tournament. I mean, I always tend to overthink things a bunch, but this time out is different. I'm so focused on minutiae it's nuts. I've been practicing my forms everyday, and I'm driving myself nuts trying to get Every Little Thing right. This morning I got myself incredibly frustrated because I seem to have developed a bad habit with my stances when moving up and down the center of the form -- I'm dropping into a sort of half-horse stance instead of a front stance when I throw my punches and blocks -- and now I'm obsessed with trying to undo that habit. I'm getting it right about 50% of the time. And then there's the back stance knife hand blocks at the end and this new "setting the hip" movement I'm trying to get a handle on, since a) it really adds force to the movement and b) apparently it really impresses the judges to see beginner students who know how to use their hips correctly. I figure that competing with Pyong Ahn Cho Dan I need all the help I can get if I want to have a prayer of placing at all.
And then there's sparring. I finally have a bit of confidence in my sparring -- I figured out a couple of moves that work for me, and that's made a huge difference in alleviating my anxiety about sparring. But then again, I've only sparred against people I already know from my dojang. I imagine the environment will be notably different when sparring students form other schools. I tend to approach it with a sense of fun -- like tag, with pads and a lot more sweating -- but I'm sure I'm going to come up against opponents that just want to thump, and who are going to try to throw all sorts of attitude to get under my skin. I've gotta work on just getting my game face on. I'm a big guy, and can be quite threatening without even raising my voice if I just stay focused. I've gotta figure out how to use that....
Gah. Thinking about this too much.
Happily, the new Tool CD has provided welcome distraction. It's my other current obsession.
I "obtained" it about a week ago, but immediately ran out of bought the real deal the moment Best Buy opened yesterday. The packaging alone is worth the purchase price. The CD sleeve has a pair of stereoscopic lenses built into it, and there's a booklet with about a dozen or so stereoscopic images for your viewing pleasure. Unfold the sleeve into a sort of a U shape, look through the lenses on one end, and see lovely 3D images. Besides being beautiful and inventive, I love that this is a piece of CD sleeve artwork that is specifically designed for the size and shape of a CD case -- highly unique.
Brilliant album, but -- much like Lateralus -- yet another lengthy step away from the Tool that created Undertow and Aenima. Needless to say, it'll divide the "old school fans" who want Tool to stay hard and loud and angsty from those who are open to more progression in their sound. The news stuff is far more personal, with some of their most beautifully constructed songs yet. The two-part epic "Wings for Marie/10,000 Days," about the death of Maynard's mother, is a full-out stunner -- easily the single most beautiful sounding piece of music they've written, and light-years away from anything on their previous recordings, stylistically. "Right in Two" is in a similar vein -- lilting, looping melodies leading up to explosive choruses, along with some amazing tabla work.
But it's not all pretty-pretty stuff: There are plenty of crushers on there as well. "Vicarious" is awesome, picking up (rhythmically, not thematically) where "Schism" left off, pointing out the hypocrisy of people who wag their fingers at people who are interested in violent imagery but who then immerse themselves on a constant, steady diet of sensationalistic "if it bleeds it leads" quote-news-unquote. "Jambi" crunches along at a nice pace. "The Pot" is cool, with Maynard singing in an utterly new style -- another piece about hypocrisy. But the real corker is "Rosetta Stoned:" Over 11 minutes of complex and powerful hard prog rock about a high school drop-out stoner who, while tripping near Area 51, is chosen by the aliens to deliver a very important message to the rest of mankind. But, well, he forgot his pen, y'see. Hysterically funny stuff, the song builds and builds until it utterly explodes at about 8:40 -- one of the best pieces in the entire Tool catalog, hands down.
Oh well. Back to obsession.
Now Playing: Tool, "10,000 Days"