MAZE and the Piano Storybook

A while ago, Vincent and I contributed to a Kickstarter campaign called the Piano Storybook, started by a guy who goes by Shnabubula, a name I seem unable to type without whispering it quietly to myself. (Try it: Shnabubula. Shnabubula. You won’t be able to stop.) The idea was that 100 people would each send an image or series of images to him, and he would improvise 100 piano songs inspired by the images.

Vincent sent Shnabubula a copy of MAZE and asked him to “improvise a song based on the images from the series of rooms you choose to move through.  While it’s hypothetically possible to wander around the Maze indefinitely, unless you’re deliberately going in circles it won’t take long before your journey comes to an end.”

Supporters of the Piano Storybook had the option to request what kind of song they wanted (in terms of tempo, melodic style, etc) and Vincent made this request, after giving Shnabubula time to experience the book: “Ok, so by now I trust you’ve made your way to Room 24, to spend eternity in the infinite blackness with the Looney Tunes eyeballs. My specific request relates only to the end of the song, which reflects your experience ending up in this room. I’m a big fan of long songs with endings that just repeat over and over and over, much longer than intuition tells you they should. Hey Jude-type endings. The thing is, those are almost always jubilant songs with joyous music that slowly fades away. Here, I would like it if your improvisation ended with a more grim and menacing line, one that repeats an absurd number of times, and that grows in intensity and volume as it progresses instead of diminishing. How you actually end the song I don’t really know, but I’m sure you’ll come up with something.”

Meanwhile, I sent in a hastily-thrown-together composite image of faces of MazeCasters and screenshots from the Abyss, together with a sappy but heartfelt letter with a description of the community and how it has evolved, and also how important it has been to me over the past few years.

Here’s what we got from Shnabubula:

“Vincent, I tried to follow the instructions in your text-file as closely as possible, it was quite a fascinating suggestion and one that I fully embraced.

“For your song, Sara, I decided to take a slightly meta-approach to the interpretation of your story in finding the Maze community, and turn it into a larger narrative arc relating to the Maze itself. I imagined a single person, lost in the Abyss for eternity, that is the end point of Vincent‘s song, and then yours is a kind of sequel with that same person, first in a position of isolation, eventually within that darkness finds this community. There are still the undertones of darkness on the fringes and there is even a specific moment meant to represent when people had become disillusioned with some of the solutions.  At 15:19 of the video I’m sending you two, the motif from Vincent‘s Abyss ‘Hey Jude‘ finale is briefly recalled to represent that, but then it leads to the final portion which is still, this beautiful community forming around this strange mysterious thing.” 

The full Piano Storybook will be released soon, but meanwhile Shnabubula gave me permission to share this video he made with the two MAZE songs. Hope you enjoy!

Teaser: There’s more to this story. Inspired by his experience with MAZE, Shnabubula created a musical puzzle! Details to come with the public release.

Songs to Maze By: The Guide

In a departure from my usual practice of providing you with a soundtrack for a room or area in the Maze, this month’s playlist is dedicated to the Guide.

“Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones

“Pleased to meet you/ Hope you guess my name/ But what’s puzzling you/ Is the nature of my game.” I could pretty much stop here, right? Trying to work out the identity of the Guide is one of the more absorbing puzzles that MAZE has to offer. Right from the get-go the Guide himself sets up the mystery: “Preoccupied with their own thoughts, impatient, like so many children, they didn’t see who I really was.” From there the question is implied again and again throughout the book as the Guide drops hints about his past and makes oblique comments about his own appearance, and a torn sign in the Trap has a hole where his name should be: who is the Guide?

“Who Are You?” by The Who

If only we had a microscopic hair sample, or a smear of spittle, or a blurry still from a security video that we could blow up with impossibly good resolution…!

“Strange Animal,” by Gowan

Well, we now know for certain, of course, that the Guide is the Minotaur, as most MAZE fanatics have long suspected. It was fun to toss around other candidates like Minos or Theseus or the Devil, but nobody else fit all the clues so well. (More on that in future posts.) The Guide is winking very broadly when he says, “… in a very real way we are all of us animals, at least in part.” I mean, who else is this clue going to be referencing? Mr Tumnus?

“Liar, Liar,” by the Castaways

One of the more interesting bits of information that we got from an Ask Manson was that the Guide’s statements are never completely truthful. It was difficult to pick a song about lies because there are so many good ones out there—Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies,” or the Knickerbockers’ “Lies,” for example—but in the end, I had to go with this one. The schoolyard chant of “liar, liar, pants on fire” seems a suitable response to the Guide’s condescending attitude towards his visitors, whom he often refers to as children although they seem not to be—and even though he more often seems like the childish one, with his little tantrums and snits.

“Follow Me,” by Uncle Kracker

Sometimes in making these playlists I learn something new about a familiar song. For example, I had no idea that this song, which seems to be a sweet and simple love song if you’re not paying attention, is actually about an arrogant jerk who likes to sleep with married women. Huh. Also, “Uncle Kracker”?! On the subject of sex, that’s something that is largely absent from MAZE. The Minotaur has been used as a metaphor for animalistic or violent male lust (see, e.g., Picasso’s Minotaur prints), but aside from a bit of mild flirtation with the Thoughtful One in Room 19, this Minotaur is really more interested in insulting and confusing his guests, with the goal of trapping them forever in Room 24, than in having sex with them. Or in eating them, for that matter! Which has always bothered me a little. Eternal entrapment seems a strangely bloodless end for a famously voracious monster to arrange for his victims…

“Lead Me On” by Teena Marie

Gotta be honest, including this track is pure self-indulgence. Ah, those pre-teen memories of listening to the Top Gun soundtrack over and over while fantasizing about Iceman. (Yes, pillow-kissing may have been involved.) On a related tangent: didja ever hear about that time when someone was plastering Val Kilmer’s face and name all over Toronto?

“Your Daddy Don’t Know” by Toronto

“… What your mama’s gonna do tonight!” Speaking of Toronto, here’s some CanCon and a shout-out to the Guide’s family. Neither of the Minotaur’s two daddies, Minos and the white bull, knew what his mama, Queen Pasiphaë, was going to do that night when she got up to her ill-fated shenanigans. I blame you, Daedalus! When a cursed woman asks you to build her a cow costume so she can fuck a bull, YOU SAY NO.

“Centuries” Fall Out Boy

In Room 16, an ancient-looking stone chamber, the Guide muses that he is reminded of his old neighbours, whose descendants “are still telling stories about me and my family to their children,” a notoriety that he calls “immortality of a sort.” In a similar spirit, this anthem blusters, “Some legends are told/ Some turn to dust or to gold/ But you will remember me / Remember me for centuries.” It is a very silly song with a very silly video but I enjoy them both quite a lot.

“Minotaur’s Song” Incredible String Band

The Incredible String Band is a Scottish psychedelic folk group, and this is their Minotaur song, which includes such magnificent lines as: “I can’t dream well because of my horns” and “His habits are predicta-bull / Aggressively relia-bull bull bull…”

“Mini Mini Taur Taur” Tobuscus

If you listen to this, it will become an earworm that will torment you for the rest of your life, especially when you are trying to work or sleep. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

“Myth Me” Chilly Gonzales

“Are you still with me? / You’re gonna myth me…” We close on a wistful note with a lisping pun. The Guide puts up a good front, but perhaps all that sneering pride is just to hide the terrible loneliness of an eternity in the Maze with only occasional doomed visitors, an elusive man in formalwear, and a bunch of birds for company.

Maybe it’s a Maze

Well, this has been a year in the making – got held up in editing, natch. This is why we never edit the ‘Casts – you’d still be waiting for Ep 1! Thanks to Greg for singing and performing, and thanks to Vincent for the lyrics. Sincere apologies to Paul McCartney. Hope you enjoy.

Tarot in the Maze

If you enjoy MAZE, there’s a good chance you are also interested in the Tarot – both are an irresistible stew of images, symbols, text, and numbers, spiced with myth, mystery, magic, and menace while offering rich possibilities for interpretation. I caught the Tarot bug early and bought my first deck at the age of 10 from a New-Agey store, dutifully storing it in black silk to protect it from “harmful vibrations” when I wasn’t torturing friends and family with inept readings.

Hanson Roberts Tarot

Over the years, I came to lose my childhood belief in any real predictive magic the Tarot might have, but I never quite lost interest in the cards, picking up a new deck or Tarot book here and there, and occasionally attempting readings. Magic or not, the Tarot does have value in decision making: as a ritualized way of approaching a problem or a question, the cards can be helpful in focussing your thinking. Doing a reading for yourself or someone else can force you to think carefully and deeply about a situation and to consider it from different perspectives, working through the consequences of possible solutions and obstacles suggested by the cards.

And even if you don’t use them for readings, Tarot cards are fascinating just for the artwork. People become obsessed with collecting Tarot decks-I have four or five myself and that’s nothing compared to some people. There are a lot of ugly or silly or lazy decks out there, but there are also many that are gorgeous and innovative. (Dali did a wonderful deck, for example, casting himself as The Magician, of course.) It’s exciting to see how different artists have interpreted the familiar scenes and meanings of the cards, a thrill similar to what you feel when you listen to a cover of a beloved song that makes it beautiful in a new way.

Dali Tarot

I could ramble on for quite some time about Tarot, but we’re here to talk about MAZE. In the chat and on the episodes people have spent a fair bit of time discussing the significance and validity of various Tarot references throughout the Maze. (Some of us even chose cards to go with our bios – can you figure out the reasons behind the choices?) There’s no question – Tarot is part of the Maze. But, as with most things around here, how much is real and what it all means is up for debate…

Room 20: The Tower

The Tower

The distinctive image of a lightning-struck tower in Room 20 is the most obvious and indisputable reference to a Tarot card in the Maze. Interpretations of The Tower and its 3D twin reclining in the tartan-covered chair are many; some are better than others. The most compelling observation is that The Tower is the sixteenth card of the major arcana, and that tells you that if you get to Room 20 you are at the end of the sixteen-step path. To me, this is the most important message for Room 20 to convey. Some may quibble and say that Room 20 actually represents the fifteenth step, but I say in the Maze, 16 = end of Path, and the 16th card in a room sends a pretty clear message. It’s beside the door to Room 1, so if you want, it can be telling you that taking door 1 from here represents your sixteenth step if you’ve been going the right way. If not-try again.

Several interpretations involve the closed and open doors of the two towers. The tower reclining in the comfy chair has a closed door, while the door on The Tower is open. Meaning-wise, The Tower is one of the worst cards in the Tarot, representing calamitous change. Connecting this meaning to the open door, and the idea of safety to the closed door on the other tower a possible reading is, “open doors are dangerous, closed doors are safe.” I like this interpretation because to me, the only correct choice in here is to go back to 1, regardless of where you are in your journey, and door 1 is the closed door. If you go to 27 you get stuck in the Loop, and if you go to 5 you have a 50% chance of ending up in the Trap and will miss the crucial ATLAS part of the riddle, even if you manage to pick door 30.

There is another interpretation of the open and closed doors on the Abyss, which you can read here.

Room 27: The Hermit

hermit

Or should I say the anti-Hermit? This Tarot reference has been discussed more than any of the others. The solution on the Abyss, which I like, depends on the statue with the lantern on door 9 clearly referencing The Hermit. I think he does because a) we are in a room that references cards, making you think of Tarot by association; b) the Hermit is the ninth card of the Major Arcana, matching the door number; and c) the Hermit is commonly depicted as carrying a lantern.

The obvious problem is that the statue itself doesn’t look anything like The Hermit. There are several key differences: the statue is young not old, blind not sighted; he isn’t carrying his lantern (and could not see by its light anyway); he’s wearing the garb of an ancient Greek, not Gandalf-robes; and he seems to be sinking into the ground instead of standing on a mountaintop. Given that one of the meanings of the card is wisdom, the point of Manson making us think of the card while also evoking its opposite is to signal that to take this door would be foolish. Of all the figures in the Tarot, this statue probably resembles The Fool most, strengthening this interpretation. The lantern, though, seems to be The Hermit’s true lantern, and lights the way for us to door 13.

As I said, I like this, but there are many who don’t, surprise surprise. Beelz posited this explanation in the Room 27 episode, and everyone seemed pretty keen on it then, but a year later most were not so thrilled with the idea when it came out of one of White Raven’s hints. Take a look at the initial and subsequent discussions on The Abyss and decide for yourself!

An interesting observation is that you can get to Room 27 from Room 20, so perhaps Manson also saw these references as a red herring trail for people trying to find interroom connections.

Other Tarot Possibilities *

the devil

At one point Vincent went through and made a list of a bunch of symbols and objects that appeared both in the Maze and in Tarot. I can’t seem to find that list now but there are quite a few: staves, angels, sun, moon, stars, clarions, devils, banners, chariots… that’s just a few off the top of my head. These are mostly common symbols and objects, so it’s hard to know if there was an intended Tarot connection or not.

Two references that do seem to have some legs are found in Rooms 19 and 38. Room 19, the outdoor room in which we meet Manson and the Sun-Man, and in which the brightness of the sunlight is emphasized, might refer to The Sun, which is the 19th trump of the Tarot. I pointed out a bunch of other similarities and connections in that room, mostly silly, which you can read here. It doesn’t seem to really help with a solution. In Room 38, the face above the door and the two unfinished figures on the side seem to evoke the composition of trump 15, The Devil. Again, doesn’t seem to help much. Could perhaps just be another trap/Minotaur reference, since the two human figures in the Rider-Waite deck (the most commonly known one and the one shown here), are chained to the pedestal on which the horned part-human part-beast devil is squatting.

*UPDATE (10/31/2016): How could I have forgotten Room 13 and its possible references to the 13th trump, the Death card? I don’t know, but I did. This possible reference is especially interesting considering it continues the Room 20 – Room 27 Tarot trail. Never fear, you can read all about that connection and more in this, the longest-ever Abyss post, written (of course) by Vincent.

A Reading

Well! All this thinking about the Tarot put me in the mood to do a reading for an absent friend. I decided to try out a new method for laying out the cards, but I’m having some trouble interpreting them. Here they are-can you help?

Tarot Deck

While you’re puzzling it out, have a listen. This doesn’t have anything to do with the reading, but it’s on theme. 🙂

Best of MazeCast: Room 39

Getting antsy waiting for the next MazeCast episode? My recommendation is to go back and watch early episodes again. I like to do this when working on mechanical tasks and when I do I always find I learn something I missed the first time or am reminded of an idea I loved.

Take, for example, the Room 39 episode, “The Thousand Injuries of Fortunato.” I revisited this episode recently while doing a bunch of formatting and it is a good one, featuring Vincent, Greg, and Beelz. Room 39 is of course the Cask of Amontillado/Poe room, so there’s a lot of talk about that, but you also learn about the ELVIS WAY observation and the Young Guns 2 connection. In case that’s not enough to make you want to revisit Room 39, here’s a snippet of conversation that occurred after Beelz presented Dave Gentile’s idea about how we know which door Montresor took. Apparently, he was just popping over to Room 4 to gather materials to make the torch which he planned to shove into Fortunato’s cell before sealing it up for good.

VINCENT: You wouldn’t really use a log to make a torch, would you? I mean, that’s not the way you make torches…

GREG: Chop it up!

BEELZ: Chop some of it off!

VINCENT: You, you’d have to… You wouldn’t… you couldn’t do it with just an axe because they’re – I mean you could I guess if you were really an expert wor – but that’s not what they do ’cause they make like, thin – more like a pole than a-

GREG: Well, what Middle Ages tool would you use to make a torch?

VINCENT: (exasperated) I don’t know what they used in the Middle AGES…

GREG: Well, that’s when you used torches! You don’t use torches – like, these days, the British, they call torches flashlights, and you don’t use wood for that at all. But that’s not what they used in the Cask of Amontillago! They used, like, a torch with a stick.

VINCENT: Yeah a STICK, not a LOG!

BEELZ: He just pushes the candle in there! It’s METAPHORICALLY a torch.

Yes, a fine example of the kind of eloquence and in-depth analysis you have come to expect from MazeCast.

But what happens next? Before you get all shook up, skip to 56:40-ish to listen the exchange and find out. Or, don’t be cruel to yourself, just rewatch the whole episode! And remember, if MAZE is always on your mind, we want to hear from you. Comment or get in touch via the public MAZE chat room, accessible from the link on the home page banner.

Another MAZE diorama!

Another Canadian Thanksgiving, another MAZE diorama. Inspired by finding a toy alligator that my mom had saved from our trip to Busch Gardens 30-odd years ago, I decided to tackle Room 44. I had a fair bit of time one evening to draw the back wall and really enjoyed doing it-it’s quite relaxing and meditative to redraw rooms, as Barry already knows of course. Unfortunately I was a little pressed for time during setup and photography, so the results are not exactly as I had envisioned:

Maze diorama

Better in sepia perhaps?

Maze diorama

Anyway, I wish I’d had time to make the reptile a proper spiky collar or even to have centred “Athena” on her Lego pedestal, and the effect certainly would have been improved by a different angle or a fake blue-sky background, but I think it was a worthwhile exercise nevertheless. I did not bother to hide my project from the family this time. They’ve witnessed enough MAZE-mania over the past year to be in no doubt as to my mental state, so I’ve decided I’m going to be crazy out in the open, and that’s one thing to feel thankful for. (Although it’s possible the intervention is just around the corner…)

Maze diorama

This Thanksgiving weekend I also felt thankful for Christopher Manson and MAZE, White Raven and Into the Abyss, and all the friends I’ve met through MazeCast. Special thanks to the creators of Terror Island for inspiring the use of chess pieces as statues.

Songs to Maze by: GAME OVER (Room 24)

This is the end, beautiful friends.* The final puzzle point has been awarded; no further Cluemasters will be crowned. In light of White Raven’s recent announcement that the gamification of MAZE on Into the Abyss is now at an end, it seemed fitting to do a playlist for MAZE’s Game Over room-the Abyss itself, Room 24.

“One of Us” by Technical Itch
SP posted this one in the public chat the other day and said it was perfect for Room 24-and it is! It won’t take you long to figure out why…

“The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel
“Hello darkness my old friend…”

“These Eyes” by The Guess Who
Here’s your government-mandated CanCon.

“The End” by The Doors
The Doors-get it? Get it!? (Yes, it is nearly 12 minutes long, but you’re stuck in the Abyss forever so QUIT COMPLAINING!!!)

“The End of the World as We Know It” by REM
As a generally cheerful person, I find I cannot end even the Room 24 playlist on a depressing note. So here for you is the most cheerful** of apocalypse songs. For me this song has particular meaning and since we’re stuck here together in the dark, I’ll tell you why. At university I belonged to a group that did sketch comedy interspersed with songs. We had a live band and performed in one of the campus pubs. I’m old, so this was near the dawn of the Internet, and the miracle of being able to find lyrics to any song at the click of a mouse had not yet occurred. Therefore, if the lyrics weren’t on the liner notes, somebody had to listen to and write out the words to any song we wanted to do-or just make up new words, which is what often happened. But not in the case of this song, which was to be the big finale, since nobody wanted the job of writing new words for all those lyrics. So it transpired that five of us, including the musical director, were crammed in somebody’s car on the way back to school from Toronto, listening to this song over and over and desperately trying to figure out what the fuck they were saying. Much of what we wrote down was total gibberish, but everyone dutifully learned and sang it. (Fortunately the audience-along with the performers-were usually pretty drunk by the end of the show, so nobody cared that it made no sense.) These days, of course, you are spared this kind of trouble thanks to the aforementioned miracle, although the published lyrics don’t make much sense either. Some sample comparisons:

  • Internet: “Don’t misserve your own needs” vs. What we thought: “Dummy, serve your own needs”
  • Internet: “Feed it up a knock, feed, grunt, no strength” vs. What we thought: “Speed it up a notch, Pete: front row seat”
  • Internet: “You vitriolic patriotic slam fight bright light” vs. What we thought: “You vitriolic patriotic slam butt fight, like”

To this day I can sing that whole song with the lyrics we wrote down, even a few beers into the evening.

Anyway, thanks for listening-so nice to have a captive audience. And now, “It’s time I had some time alone…” BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA

*Some would have you believe that it’s not really the end but only the beginning of a BRAVE NEW ERA OF MAZE. Hope springs eternal!

**For an even more cheerful (and even faster!) rendition, check out this CanCon cover by Great Big Sea.

MAZE fanfiction?!

The inventive and engrossing novel Eidophusikon has recently come to our attention here at MazeCast. And, OK, MAZE fanfiction may not the best way to describe it, but author Jack Masters is clearly a fan of MAZE and Christopher Manson. (For proof, skip to the excerpt at the end of this post.)

It’s hard to describe Eidophusikon, and it probably ruins the (seemingly intentionally) disorienting experience of reading it to try to explain too much about it, so I’ll keep the spoilers to a minimum. The author seems to feel the same way: the book’s online description reads only, “A private investigator disappears, leaving behind a cryptic text that leads her brother on a strange and perilous search.” The brother in question is John Tanis, whose attempts to find out what happened to his sister quickly land him at the centre of a weird web of events and characters, some straight out of myth and fairy tale.

It sounds like a fantasy detective story, but that kind of label doesn’t really explain what this book is. The perspective shifts, the chronology is unpredictable, and the story (stories?) are woven through with diverse references-folk music, The Bible, video games, fairy tales, films-and of course, MAZE. There are puzzles, too-although it’s hard to tell which might be fairly solvable. Eidophusikon plays with the conventions of fiction and your expectations as a reader, making it a challenging but exciting read. If you are a fan of House of Leaves or The Raw Shark Texts you will probably enjoy this book.

Fair warning, though. I will say that Eidophusikon is not for the faint of heart. It has violent and frightening bits and it is definitely not for kids.

In the end, the best way to explain the book is to let you read it, so I’m including an excerpt from Part 3, De Vega’s Run. Here’s the setup: private detective Danielle Tanis has entered an impossible, mazelike edifice-The Lab-and is trying to make her way to the centre with the questionable aid of a guide with oddly formal demeanour and speech. Along the way Danielle faces riddles that, if solved, can help her decide which way to go.

Eidophusikon is available to download for pay-what-you-want at Smashwords. Or you can buy it for $0.99 at Amazon.

To accompany you on your foray into The Lab (excerpt below), please enjoy this selection from Beck-another artist Masters seems to like.

“That arena,” Danielle started, “does that mean-?”

“Not here,” I said. “No metaphors yet.”

We were coming close, though, to the end of this cycle.

“I think the sage is next,” I said, changing the subject. “It knows all. You could begin thinking of questions, if you like.”

“Will it answer?”

“Every question will receive an answer, though fools often doubt the sage’s response.”

“And the wise?”

“They don’t waste time talking to plants.”

Plants?”

Salvia divinorum, sage of seers.”

The hallway opened up onto a subway station. A train was waiting for us. Before it, on the platform, was the sage plant. It was massive, the size of a banana tree, with flowers and leaves of every color.

“Does it truly know all?” Danielle asked me.

“Why don’t you find out?”

She approached the plant.

“What is happening on the Moon?” she asked.

The sage shook softly. A leaf detached and floated to the floor. Danielle picked it up.

Written on the leaf was, “The Moon is moot. Most must be dust.”

Danielle showed me the leaf. “This can’t be right. Not yet.”

I nodded. “You may be correct. But enough foolishness. Ask the real question.”

Danielle didn’t approve of my authoritarian tone, but she grudgingly complied.

“Alright, plant,” she said. “Which way to the center?”

The sage shook, much more violently this time. Danielle stepped back a few feet. When its convulsions ceased, the sage had dropped seven leaves.

Danielle collected the leaves and arranged them on the floor. We sat next to them, and studied the phrases written on them:

“ye bold and brazen slaves”

“tether ye boat and crew”

“the rat-catching minions that Satan shat and birthed”

“gold ye gather”

“beside the galliers do seat themselves”

“the desolate winds beat torment in your sails”

“do seethe among us, as they shit upon us still”

Even after Danielle understood what the sage was telling us, she wasn’t sure what to do with the information. Eventually, we decided to board the train.

We entered the first car. The doors opened and closed of their own volition.

There were no seats or handrails, no windows, no graffiti, and no other passengers. There were only buttons and plates.

Each button was placed on a one-inch-by-three-inch steel plate. Each plate had one word written on it. Every square inch of the walls and ceiling was coated with plates. It did not take a second for us to realize that every word began with an A; it took not much longer to understand that the words were arranged in alphabetical order.

Danielle followed the words to the back, and then pushed through a doorway into the next car. I followed.

There seemed to be no rationale for the inclusion or exclusion of particular words. I located (through personal curiosity) “alisfakia,” “ārstniecības salvija,” and “adaçayı”; but common words such as “akha” and “al-waqi” were conspicuously absent.

We passed through many cars before we found the words beginning with B.

I didn’t count the cars we traversed before Danielle found the correct button. It was a long walk, but the time seemed to fly by, perhaps due to the inherent entertainment of the situation.

When she pushed the button, the train sprang forward. As we were thrown to the back of the car, lightning began to flash between the ceiling and floor.

-Jack Masters, Eidophusikon

Songs to Maze by: Room 23

How about this heat, eh? Baseball, sunshine, thunderstorms-if there’s a summer room in MAZE, then Room 23 is it. Here’s your playlist!

“I’ll Follow the Sun” by the Beatles
Let’s start with the blindingly obvious. The correct door to take in here is the Room 8 door, which is bathed in sunlight and has a picture of the glowing sun over the door. If you’re on the Path, you’ve just come from 45, and day follows night, so on you go, and who better to accompany you than these fellows.

“Follow the Sun” by Xavier Rudd
As an alternative, here’s a rather lovely little sun-following song I found when looking for the Beatles tune. To be honest, it’s a bit earnest-Australian-surfer-dude for me, but the lyrics have birds, so it’s Mazey enough to warrant inclusion.

“Look Over Your Shoulder” by Kwabs
The second half of the 16-step path spells out “shoulders.” (Not without controversy!) Room 23 has the “O” from the scroll but also has the word in the text: the Guide says, “… looking over my shoulder, which is not easy to do.” Meaning the Guide is tall, I guess? I have an overly complicated theory about the Pleiades being on the shoulder of the constellation Taurus, but never mind that. The point is, we need a shoulder song. The first one that sprang to mind was Canadian Paul Anka’s “Put Your Head on My Shoulder,” and there is something appealing and kind of creepy about imagining that scratchy record being played on repeat in here, but in the end I went with this tune. I love this guy’s voice and the ominous feel that comes from that buzzing bass line. “Better stay out of the shadows when you wander far from home” is a pretty good line for Room 23, dontcha think? And this line is highly appropriate for MAZE in general: “It will creep into your head and it will never let you go.” (You can also listen to an alternative, stripped-down version here.)

“Centerfield” by John Fogerty
Although Room 45 is identified as the centre of the Maze, Room 23 marks the midpoint of your journey on the 16-step path, making Fogerty’s baseball classic doubly suitable for Room 23.

“Moses Supposes (his Toeses are Roses)” with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor
To finish this room off, let’s check off the stone tablets and that random foot picture with this jaunty number from Singin’ in the Rain. Be sure to watch for the doors at 1:50. And try to imagine that instead of that final long “A” sound the boys are helpfully singing “EEEEEEIIIIIIGHHHHHHTT!”

Bonus CanCon Track: “Hard Sun” by Indio
This is actually the song that got me thinking about sun songs. I was in the car with a friend of mine who knows a lot about music, and the Eddie Vedder cover of “Hard Sun” came on the radio. I had never heard that version and was surprised when my friend said he didn’t realize that the song was not Vedder’s own. The original is by Indio, the stage name of a Canadian called Gordon Peterson, who recorded it as part of his one and only album, Big Harvest, in 1989, which was critically acclaimed but didn’t do much commercially. Peterson disappeared from the scene shortly after releasing the album. Twenty years later, Vedder did his cover for the film Into the Wild, reviving the song and introducing it to new audiences, which led to the reissue of Big Harvest. Unfortunately, the cover also got Vedder in hot water with Gordon Peterson – although the label gave permission for Vedder to cover the song they never talked to Peterson about it. Peterson was upset about this and about some lyric changes, so he sued Vedder. (He lost.) It’s all kind of depressing but the song itself remains a glorious thing.

“Walking on Broken Glass” by Annie Lennox

Update 2016-11-16: I heard this song on the radio yesterday and could not believe I had omitted it from this playlist. It’s perfect for obvious reasons and the video is an over-the-top treat complete with pre-House Hugh Laurie and John Malkovich hamming it up Dangerous Liaisons–style.

The sun’s still shining in the big blue sky
But it don’t mean nothing to me
Oh let the rain come down
Let the wind blow through me
I’m living in an empty room
With all the windows smashed
And I’ve got so little left to lose
That it feels just like I’m walking on broken glass