After an almost 9-month hiatus from the blogosphere, I suddenly felt compelled to return and blow my rhetorical nose once again into the Kleenex of humanity. If I was a pregnant woman, I could have had a baby by now. Not much has changed though, and that is a good thing. I did not have a baby, or become a woman. But I apparently forgot how to formulate thoughts, so please forgive the rusty-fingered babbling brook of my mind, as I try to find my feet once again.
So what’s new? Hmmmmmmm… (Strokes chin and the pretend cat on my lap, Goldfinger style.)
A few more classes under my belt towards the college degree – one left this fall and I’ll have my AS degree at least. Work is the same as ever; guitar is ablaze, and I kitted myself out with some cool new recording gear, dragging my 8-track old ass into the new-fangled digital world, in a bid to circumvent a few outlandish studio fees while I try to get enough material down for a demo. This is a lot of fun. I’m on a really big Django Reinhardt kick / pilgrimage lately, and the gypsy jazz sound is starting to emerge in the stuff I’m writing. It’s 4.30am, which is kind of weirdly serene and serenely weird – I woke up prematurely after a big Lobster and Ale dinner with a mighty, searing heartburn, only to find the Tums all gone. The horror!
Reading a really interesting book (aka a doorstop) about Francis Bacon, called “History of a Character Assassination”, but don’t feel like talking about that… or anything really. Just enjoying the nocturne, and wanted to say hello to the people I’m imagining may read this.
Anyway, that is all the nothing I have to say for now, so goodnight sweet world. I will catch you on the flip side.
Ohhh yeah – if anyone has any interest at all, I have a new and purged twitter account, @CCChris_Cox and my blog URL has changed ever so slightly, to http://TheUnderstatement.me . Ping me in a twit, tweet me in a ping, twang me in a peet or twong my pits and I will loyally follow you back! My old one was overflowing with autobots and Justin Beiber fans for some inexplicable reason, so I elected to rebuild from ground zero.
Adieu,
CC

I absolutely love the New Year; always have, always will.  If this didn’t happen, we’d be stuck in the same… (what?), forever.  Wouldn’t be a year, but the psychological ramifications of NOT measuring time on a cyclical basis would be uber-depressing.  Hey friends, happy new… nothing?  Day?  OK – I’ll take whatever I can get.  Happy Same Year, Happy Old Year, Happy Furthering of the Dredge and the Drudgery, with no good drunken blowouts to shake off the cobwebs and kick the minor negatives permanently into the past.  This is a powerful thing man, for me it is at least!

I always make resolutions, albeit lightheartedly.  I know this is not dead serious, and I enjoy thinking about a brand new slate.  But thankfully, we have no shortage of the cranky and cynical to keep us in line and remind us that “It’s just another day, sheeple – no different than yesterday or tomorrow”.  THANK YOU – because here was I, watching for unicorns and expecting the Rapture.  Sir Dickimus of Headicus, maybe you should go tell your 3-year-old now that Santa is bullshit and Grandma is “actually” decomposing in the mud!  Go have a beer and get o’er yersel, fer the sake of Auld Lang Syne.

2013 was momentous in many ways, and 2014 will be epic.  A Few Notables:

Both my beautiful and amazing kid sisters had babies.  The youngest sis has very severe diabetes, and was told by medics her whole life that this could never happen, her body couldn’t support a pregnancy.  Fuck you, doc – both are alive and well and as radiant as ever, and our clan is 2-stronger because of it.  Go Defiance!

554043_586423754736893_1503031208_n  Dylan Tigger

My Sis-in-Law DIDN’T get blown up in the Boston Marathon.  Then after she didn’t get blown up, she got married to a wonderful man and they built a gorgeous new house to start their life together.

My Uncle-in-Law (who ALSO didn’t get blown up) turned 70, and we partied like Hobbitses into the small hours of the summer.

We met a few new friends, musicians  & art afficionados, and bade adieu to a few more moving on to new adventures and pastures.  Those friends that moved on, we sent them off like Vikings, and feasted like Klingons in their honor.  Very memorable days.

I began working on the writing for a SICK jazz album, and have never been happier with the sounds coming out of my guitar. On top of my game indeed, and loving it up Big Willy Style.

Apologies to the notables I have missed – this bears no reflection on your noteworthiness.  Oh, and I didn’t die.

And for 2014?

Planning a trip to England to see the fam, and meet the clan members born since my departure.

I have 2 big anniversaries late in 2014:  10 years living in the USA, and 10 years married to the most amazing woman I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  AJ, I love you soooooooo much, you make me want to retire early, so I can just hang out with you all day every day.  Screw you, proponents of marital combat – try wedding your best friend in the world, and then you’ll see that men and women aren’t enemies.

Happy New Year!!!

Dylan and Dad

So here is my curse, and Faust had the same ailment, which did not end well for the poor guy:  I was born with an unquenchable hunger for all the knowledge the world ever possessed, and even knowledge the world never possessed – all of it.  I wanted to know everything – still do – all the secrets guarded by every hidden sect across the globe, from the Freemasons to the Mithraists to the Templars and Rosicrusians, the chronicles of Da Vinci and Zoroaster, back again, through every hidden or destroyed record sealed up inside altars, bricked up inside walls, hidden in vaults and tunnels, in cities now under the sea, lost by fire, destroyed by flood, encased in magma and lava, or only ever known by verbal whispers passed from parent to child and never written down through the pagans and the druids and the Far Easterns and the Egyptians and all the other cultures throughout the world and throughout time.  This hunger never went away, no matter how much information I crammed into my brain, and if anything, every answer I ever obtained did not spawn the satisfaction I had hoped for, but created yet another outwardly spiraling plethora of more questions and curiosities.  One human cannot possibly have the capacity to contain all the knowledge I crave, and this hunger has no shape, form or affiliation.  This has presented many challenges throughout my life, because as far as I know, no-one has ever been able to run in every direction at once.  It’s pretty amusing to bystanders, however, when I try.  Picture Cerberus chasing his tail, and you’re not too far off.

The thing is, I do feel special; either I am special or I am a lunatic, but since being a kid I’ve been like a bug-light to ghosts, and more recently to ‘people’ who visit me in my dreams.  There is a whole tribe, many of them, and places they live which aren’t on this rock or in this dimension.  I wake up most mornings with the feeling I was THERE – in the place where all the answers were, and then as this bastard condition known as consciousness takes over, it fades and slips away too quickly for me to retain, and this is immensely frustrating.

I was very lucky as a kid, in that my parents were not religious, and so I didn’t have any dogma shoved down my throat.  In addition, my dad is an absolutely wildly interesting man.  He, like me, is crazy about this stuff, and we used to go on these adventures all the time, looking for fossils or ghosts, watching for UFOs, reading everything we could get our hands on about King Arthur, Merlin, Camelot – whatever.  In fact, I truly do not understand and cannot fathom people who aren’t built this way.  People who are disinterested in things are completely bizarre to me; I don’t judge them, but nor do I understand them, or get what makes them tick.  My friends were like me, and we gravitated towards the occult and the darker side of nature.  Even though I grew up and moved away from my original country, this has never, ever died in me.  I was fanatical about chaos magic, and used to dream as a child about being caught up in the primordial ooze – spiraling ink blobs whirling round at breakneck speeds before the world was formed.  It didn’t feel like a dream, but a memory, and I have always instinctively known – albeit never been able to give form or validation to this knowledge – that our life as humans truly is transient and fleeting.  I have never subscribed to any subset of religious thinking, and have always been a staunch opponent of organized religion, but I’m not atheist either.  In fact, I’m a lifelong member of the “I don’t know what’s out there, and I’m comfortable with that” club.  If we knew everything, then what would be left to look forward to?

But lately, I do feel like I’m getting closer to understanding something.  I don’t know what it is, but I have a scent.  I’m wondering if this is naturally what happens to people as we age, and edge closer to death?

How the Internet has broken me

Posted: September 29, 2013 in General, Life
Tags: , ,

There used to be a time when a teacher would introduce a concept or a word, and then you’d go home and hit the books, learning everything you could about it.  But the internet has hugely reduced not only that need, but what feels like most of the interaction over things.  Like, real interaction.

I recall my best friend telling me (aged ~8) about all the great horror films I needed to see, such as Nightmare on Elm Street and the Exorcist, and I’ll never forget the buzz when Poltergeist came out.  Half the school had seen it and were freaking out, and the other half were freaking out that they hadn’t seen this terrifying film which made everyone else they knew freak out.  No such buzz exists these days, because the INSTANT we hear about a vaguely interesting premise, we go to Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB, Netflix – shit, you can even watch half the new releases online if you advocate piracy.  Nothing waits for the weekend any more, and there are no concepts which Google can’t explain, or word definitions which your parents have to explain to you.  The internet has made things way boring, and we hardly see people interacting anymore because there’s never anything new to talk about.

_Tangina

“Hey man, did you see that really effed-up thing that just happened?”

“Oh, that?  Yeah, it was all over Twitter; that’s yesterday’s news.  So what’s new?”

NOTHING, apparently.  At least, not new in Net-speed; it’s old the second it gets published!

This is not entirely true, but I haven’t been very active lately, and the WWW has facilitated this sloth beautifully.  It keeps me abreast of the news, keeps me updated with what’s goin on in film-land, Facebook lets me know how the family is doing, my laptop Kindle app lets me read whatever I want whenever, and if I feel like just bullshit, then I go play Scrabble or Candy Crush Saga for nine straight hours.  I’m turning into a bloody moss-covered rock, with the mentality that real-life is exhausting!

So that being said, I just dusted myself off and went for a walk; it was gorgeous out!  At one point I even interacted with a friendly dog, and almost burst into tears it was so emotional.  I couldn’t wait to get home and blog about it.

man-dog-relaxing-15070040

That being said, I can’t stay on here yakking all day; I need to go find a virtual e-shower someplace online so I can electronically de-skank my sweaty self.   Have a great Sunday!

CC

So the study and training of memory is called Mnemonics, which stems from the Greek Mnemosyne, who was the goddess of memory, and incidentally, mother of the nine Muses.  The muses were nine sister goddesses born of Zeus and Mnemosyne, and they were responsible for creating the arts, sciences and knowledge in general, right?

So to muse is to become absorbed in thought, to meditatively turn something over in the mind, or to wonder / marvel or speak reflectively.  Muse is also the root of way more words and notions relating to inspiration – including “Music”, which was created by the muses.  The first muse is called Clio, and she was credited for discovering the guitar.  Erato is the muse responsible for love, love poetry and weddings; Erato was also friends with Eros, (aka Cupid), and would make the arrows which Eros would shoot into our loins, making us feel Erotic (and sometimes erratic).  At least, this friendship was suggested by Apollonius of Rhodes in his book Argonautica, during an invocation to Erato.  And Apollonius was a poet who named himself after the god Apollo, who was the adoptive father of the nine muses when Zeus and Mnemosyne palmed them off.  Safe to say, this dude knew his shit.  So Mnemosyne was the root of all memory, and to this day Mnemonics is the study of memory, and musing essentially means to hang out with the muses and think about stuff, and music is born from musing, and if you muse over things this way and that, they become very, very amusing.  How can you NOT love this?

In case you care, the whole nine muses are:

  • Clio – discovered history and the guitar.
  • Euterpe – the flute, several other musical instruments and dialect.
  • Thalia – the protector of comedy, and discoverer of geometry, architectural science and agriculture.
  • Melpomene – invented tragedy, rhetoric speech and melos (the succession of musical tones constituting a melody.  Maybe even a mellow or melancholic melody.)
  • Terpsichore – invented the harp, dance and education.
  • Erato – the hottest one.  (Love, love poetry and weddings)
  • Polymnia – divine hymns, mimic art, grammar, and geometry along with her sister Thalia.
  • Ourania – celestial objects and stars; invented astronomy.  (Her name sounds eerily like “Uranus”, dunnit?)
  • Calliope – the superior muse, imposer of serenity and justice, and protector of heroic poems and rhetoric art.

 the-9-muses-of-greek-mythology_full_size_landscape1

And don’t get me started on epistemology.

I’m a witty guy in conversation, pretty offbeat, who routinely cracks people up when shooting the shit. And I glow and glimmer and blush and giggle when this happens. I love being laughed at, it feels great. So it probably shouldn’t unnerve me when people try to Hi-Five me for saying something funny and clever, but it does. I should be flattered, but instead I feel like my shorts just got invaded, and suddenly that person creeps me out a little, even if prior to their celebration of my hilarity I liked them just fine. If they gave me the verbal equivalent of the Hi-Five, I would react completely differently; my ego would purr. But Hi-Fives make me want to go home and shower. I needed to analyze why.

If something is funny, you laugh. Blow snot-bubbles if appropriate, maybe keel over, nod appreciatively or remark on the funny. But the Hi-Five feels strategic. Hi-Fives were designed as a way to celebrate a joint success, a mutual victory for the team, some goal accomplished by synergy, very often recognized while wearing roller skates. You can’t Hi-Five yourself very successfully – it takes two people at least. So when someone Hi-Fives my funny, it feels like they’re taking shared credit for my input, or implying the kill was pre-organized by the both of us, and it played out perfectly. Jesus man, get the fuck off my joke!

The type of people flinging hands in the air like they just don’t care fits a pattern too – it is never, ever one of the cool kids. Usually slightly lacking, sometimes with a strange odor, gravy stains on their shirt and a twinkle in their eye like they’re your next stalker – people who Hi-Five jokes are scary. They fail as adults, they fail as humans, they fail as communicators and they definitely fail as social butterflies, and the likelihood of us becoming besties is thus reduced.

Groupies have been around as long as musicians, and music is like magic. It transforms thin air and acoustics into widespread viral emotion, and so musicians were treated like magicians, and got laid for sharing their divine elixir. In the aftermath of a successful joke, people are warmed up because you made them laugh and forget their day; you interjected some much-needed levity into the woe, and we all appreciate this. Nobody has ever punched me immediately after laughing at me, but several have thanked me, complimented me and remarked on how they needed a laugh. For a brief moment, we the funny become Adonis of the Wit. If I could choose my own philosopher god name to be etched into the pantheon wall, it would be Rhetoricles. If I never achieved a single other thing in this world, I would want to be remembered for lightening people’s loads, and taking the edge off shitty days everywhere I traveled. And the Hi-Fivers are trying to be my groupies.

The Hi-Five is also a warning to the onlookers, much in the way a tom cat might Hi-Five a tree with his urine. It’s an unspoken message to the rest that we have an inside joke going on, and although we all laughed together, they understood it a bit better, because they heard this one already when we came back from the gym and stopped off for a beer on the way home. Hi-Fiving jokes is like gatecrashing a party with a forged invitation, claiming more right than anyone else to be there because you have documentation to prove it. And in the moments following the Hi-Five there is an awkward silence, because some goofy nerd briefly acted like he was on spring break drunk wearing a speedo. Now they’re back in front of a room full of people, realizing the laughter died down quite some time ago.

Fun is to be shared; our sense of humor is the best attribute we have, which is why we encourage each other when silliness abounds. But physical contact has its place, and people who Hi-Five jokes are also the ones who touch pregnant women’s bellies without permission, or stroke your hand when giving you change at the store, or gently lick your T-shirt sleeve while you snooze obliviously on the porch in the late summer. And then herein, we get to the true root cause of my reaction, because do not shake my hand either, or grope my ass or ruffle my shoulder or punch my arm or gyrate against my neck – I don’t like spontaneous, unannounced physical contact. Whatever your gig, and however you feel, keep your filthy paws off my silky drawers.  And please do not spread rumors that we are BFFs.

About four nights ago, during an epic rain and thunderstorm, there was an apparent sighting of the Virgin Mary on top of a church just round the corner from where I live, and it made local news.  So it drew a crowd and made the week very exciting for some folks, as well as providing entertainment for all concerned, whether you bought into this whole thing or not.  I don’t buy into this stuff, but I also see aliens behind every movement in the night sky, so who am I to judge?

virgin

Last night sometime around 9 or 9.30, my wife and I went for a walk through the neighborhood, and I’d forgotten all about it.  But we veered down past said church, and holy crap – there were still about a dozen or more people camped outside the place, filling up the pavement.  If you have ever seen John Carpenter’s “Prince of Darkness”, this is EXACTLY what it looked like, sans Alice Cooper.

So we apprehensively ambled through the cluster, and what struck me most was the absolute look of completion and serenity these people wore on their faces.  This truly was the most significant thing to happen in their lives, if their calm, peaceful and amazed expressions were anything to go by.  There were families out there with young kids up past normal bedtime, and one small crowd were reciting / chanting Hail Marys’ in unison, over and over, barely taking their eyes off the top of the building.  My neck ached on their behalf, and my goosebumps had goosebumps it was so sinister.

I don’t have a thrilling conclusion to this blog, but wanted to preserve that particular memory for posterity.  And to also note a very cool coincidence:

My wife is a novelist, and her first ever novel was / is called “The Hoax”.  The Hoax is set in Boston, and one of the earliest and most significant scenes in the book has a sighting of the Virgin Mary on a church roof, and starts out in a crowd almost exactly like the one we walked through last night.

I hope this synchronicity means Mary was coming down to arrange a movie deal.  That would be divine.

The_Hoax  nprovcross3

Interesting observation when you look at the angle increments on a circle, equally divided down to the smallest integer intervals (45° apart):

0°, (Twelve o clock), 45° (1.30), 90° (3.00), 135°, 180°, 225°, 270°, 315° and 360° – all the digits of these divisions add up to exactly 9.

And when you multiply 9 by anything, the digits of the answer also add up to 9, (except multiples of 11 x 9, which have to be divided twice, as in:  11 x 9 = 99 -> 9+9 = 18 -> 1 + 8 = 9).  or 22 x 9 = 189, 1 + 8 + 9 = 18, 1 + 8 = 9).

I plugged some randomly high numbers into a calculator to test the theory beyond what I can do in my head, and here’s what I got:

9 x 103 = 1107. 1 + 1 + 0 + 7 = 9.

9 x 358 = 3222.  3 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 9.

9 x 774456 = 6970104.  6+9+7+0+1+0+4 = 27.  2+7 = 9.

9 x 1155 = 10395.  1 + 0 + 3 + 9 + 5 = 18.  1 + 8 = 9.  Incidentally, 1155 is 105 x 11: another multiplication of 11.

Going in the other direction, 9 is 3 squared.  In binary, 3 is written as 11.

I try my hardest never to judge anyone for anything, but in one specific area I sometimes fail:  I can’t stand half-arsed attempts at anything.  I just can’t bring myself to read crap writing, listen to crap music, or summon anything but indifference towards crap art, and it bugs me that people release things before they are ready for release.  If you’re going to do something, then you have to do it to the absolute best of your ability, otherwise why bother?  Why would I write, unless I can learn to do it in a way that makes my soul bleed and my heart explode?  Why create music that wouldn’t even stir a cup of coffee?  That’s not to say don’t go for it – actually, I’m saying the opposite.  If you’re going to create anything, then do it as though it were the most important thing in your life, because really it is, or should be.  Strive to change the world, or get the hell off my planet.  Nobody is born good at stuff – this takes tears and frustration and dragging your self-esteem through the shitter.  But if you want it, then how else can you get it but to challenge yourself to be better, with every note or sentence or brush stroke you put down?  And if you find yourself dissatisfied with something you’ve done, then go back to it.  Stay up all night with it.  Take it to the basement, and fight to the death until it’s either excellent / great / powerful, or ditch it entirely and keep on trucking.  You can’t ever, ever let the product dictate your limitations – it’s the other way around, and with that mindset, you really don’t have any limits.  This is key.

A plain fact is that writers have to research – we’re all very familiar with that.  I couldn’t write cold about an FBI agent or a safari guide, because I don’t know anything about being either.  If I wanted to attempt that, then I’d need to do a whole lot of learning before I began.  So that being said, something I see over and over in fiction writing is when people use the musical term “octave” incorrectly, and it goes up my arse.

Two people are engaged in adult playtime, and when a particularly stimulating thing just happened, “their voice went up an octave”.  NO IT DIDN’T!!!  They’d sound like Mickey Mouse!  An octave is the same note, raised to the next stave in the musical spectrum; that would sound ridiculous in this context, and send the love interest into fits of laughter or fear!  I’m sure it went up in pitch, maybe even volume (decibels), had a tremolo effect in there, the intonation changed, but if I was ever playing round with someone whose voice went up eight whole notes for any reason, I’d either call a doctor, an exorcist or Simon Cowell.  An octave is a very precise measure, so it would sound perfectly harmoniously musical – they would literally be singing.

To that same note – pun intended – look at the roots of words, and use them accordingly.  Octave – eight notes.  Octopus – eight tentacles.  Octet – eight people.  Octagon – eight sides.  Octapeptide – a protein fragment comprised of eight amino acids linked in a polypeptide sequence.  (OK – that last one I didn’t know without referring to my old beloved Merriam Webster).  Octogenarian, an eighty year old, octcetera octcetera octcetera.

I don’t really care what anyone writes – it is certainly none of my business.  But from a reader’s perspective, these small transgressions can have massive ramifications in how you are perceived as an author.  If you choose to write, then words are your notes, and using the wrong one is akin to Beethoven hitting a bum chord halfway through Moonlight Sonata.  One second you’re half asleep floating on a raft at midnight, and the next you’re arse-deep in cold water, thrown out and coughing up seaweed.  Words are critically important, especially if words and language are your business, and you’re asking other people to give you money in exchange for those sentences.  The worst response you can get to any creative endeavor is apathy.  It’s hard enough to shine in this overcrowded world, without giving the world a perfectly valid reason to bury you in obscurity.

Good things are happening this week!  I decided to start diversifying my activities, and rekindle a few old creative flames, to offset my day-job blah.  As a result:

I have been invited to play at a jazz recital in June, and soon afterwards, to start teaching guitar at Zabinski music studio, in Pawtucket’s Hope Artiste Village.  Very excited!  So I will get to test my new crazy solo jazz-classical style on a real live audience.  Fingers crossed they don’t pelt me with rotten tomatoes.  I also want to start a mosh pit of really small children, and make this venture mutually entertaining. It has been approximately 12 years since I last played live, so my heart is thanking me profusely for getting off my arse again.

I also just did an interview with Motif magazine, a local arts / entertainment paper, for a feature they’re writing on me in their next issue, focusing on the publication and sale of “Vegetables” in Machine of Death, and my current mission to film-script the story and try to sell that on the back of some media-whoring I’m planning.

This weekend is also Gaspee Days festival in Warwick’s Pawtuxet Village, so if you’re heading down there, look out for my friend Kari, and her incredible macramé jewelry designs at the Fnurra Smycken tent!  If you buy lots of her stuff this weekend as a result of my pitch, I reckon she might buy me a beer next time we’re out.  But I haven’t proposed this to her yet, and I still owe her a shot of Jameson’s.  Seriously though, her work is truly awesome.

 

Have a great long weekend folks!  I’m not getting out of bed on Monday, for any reason.  By Tuesday, my reason will be to shower and change the sheets.