Welcome to 11:30pm on my Monday night. ‘Twas a busy Monday at work, where I win my bread. It seemed I was no sooner in the office than I was on the phone or on the computer or on the tiles, meeting and working and walking and talking and thinking. I have to go do it all again tomorrow, and I wish I didn’t… have to, I mean. Enough with the exposition though; shall we?
I’ve been listening to the new NIN album the past couple days, and I really like it. In particular, there’s a part in the song “Right Where It Belongs” that’s really rad. From the beginning of the song, the vocals have a muted, in-the-background presence which is slightly off-center to the right in the stereo image. Then, about 3/4 of the way through, they totally morph, taking on a much warmer, foreground presence that’s dead-center in the image. At the same time, a crowd noise sound effect is ramped up in the background, and the “wetness” that’s added to the vocals also gets layered on the instrumentation… along with the addition of a little bassy synthesizer. Very cool effect, almost like the song “comes alive” just then. You can listen to it if you want. Just take the URL of this page, and change the root by: adding 18, subtracting 8, subtracting 2, adding 9, and finally appending ’12.mp3’. Neato.
When I was in high school, I used to like to write things down without actually writing them out. Meaning, I liked to write little cryptic things. I think my inspiration came from the back pages of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, where Carroll closed the book with a poem, which, when read every-first-letter acrostic style, spelled out Alice’s real name: Alice Pleasance Liddell. I adopted this, and variations of it, to write down secret things in my journal. So, what seemed like a semi-poignant limerick about some thoughts or feelings was, to me, really an admission of infidelity or something more exciting. My favorite, and most challenging, was to write a small poem where the lines’ first letters read forward spelled half of what was really being said, and the lines’ last letters read backward finished the hidden message. Care had to be taken: to manipulate the shrouded thought to contain an even number of letters, to split it in half and write the opening and closing letters of each line, and finally to fill in the gaps with a cohesive thought. I masked things like that all the time, but only the most super-secret – the stuff that should only be thought, not recorded. When reading back over my journal, I can spot these instantly. In fact, they stand out to me as only the intended text, the contrived filler only there to protect what shouldn’t be put down on paper. Useful, if you’re into that kinda stuff.
Saturday night was a party at Ben’s house, in honor of Ben now having the house where the party was. We went there. It was good. After the crowd dwindled, and all that was left was what partygoers sometimes call the “hardcore crew,” we set a fire in Ben’s backyard. Not on the grass, but in a pre-fab firepit that came in a cardboard box from a warehouse store. Ben had gotten it as a gift, and he and I had spent some time earlier that day assembling it. Anyway, the box of Hot Wood purchased at the grocery store up the street was set alight, and six or seven people huddled in chairs around the fire. It was a chilly night, so the pre-warmth period of the fire was somewhat of an endurance – but the few powered through for the sake of conversation. Something about sitting around a fire brings out the best conversation. Staring into the stuff. Pat said it was because that’s all there was to do at night for ten-thousand years. Maybe. Maybe it’s something primal, pre-conditioned into our consciousness at birth. Although huddling around the sub-$100, assembly-line, terra-cotta and metal firepit, burning our purchased-at-Albertsons, came-in-a-cardboard-box firewood (with kindling) wasn’t exactly recalling caveman days. Anyway, it was one of those moments for me where I was just…. complacent. Good friends were around, and the planets aligned around a little firepit in Ben’s backyard. I’m a sucka for flames.
Did you see that paragraph about the firepit? That’s writing. That’s what I used to do. That’s what was gone. That’s what I feel slowly creeping back into my hands as they click the keys. Keep the faith, it may be back… it just may be back. Also, today at lunch we went on an adventure to the 150 year old abandoned Chinese mines. I’ll write about that tomorrow OK?