it's a boat.  because they sing about boaty stuff so much...
Oh… oh… the spirit of old-time-stories is harrying me again. Time to revisit the golden years with yet another round of dumb retellings of long-ago deeds. Beware, it comes random, it comes quick, and it mostly comes in poor english and narrative form. Blog away!

When we were younger, we had a theory that the number “four” had some sort of special meaning. <Sound of chimes. The present scene becomes all wavy-blurry and gives way to an image from the past, an 8th grade campout. Four boys sit on a log deep in the woods at night, the smell of burning rope hangs thick in the air as we join the scene .> Taking a break from keeping ourselves entertained by striving to precisely describe the feeling of running ones tongue across ones teeth – I came up with a “game” we could play.

We would count the number of letters in various words, and then count the number of letters in the number of letters from that word. Hmm… confusing? Let me ‘splain. The word is “whitebread.” “Whitebread” has 10 letters in it, the word “ten” has 3 letters in it, the word “three” has 5 letters in it, and the idea was to go to infinity. But! Guess what? We soon found out that every word, no matter what word, always came back to the number four. We tried short words, long words, and ridicu-long words like “antidisestablishmentarianism” and “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” all of which came back to “four.” Try it, it’s for real.

After several hours of this game we decided that “the number four is the only number that has the same number of letters in its spelling as the number it represents.” It was a momentous occasion for us young thinkers, and as they say – it totally blew our minds. From then on, when we failed to understand anything we would just chalk it up as “Eh, whatever. It’s all four in the end anyway.” Convinced we had unearthed some basic truth – we threw out the shake, put away the papers and Swiss Army Knife tweezers, and fell asleep on the ground. No pillows, no sleeping bags, nothing. Ahhh… good times. Thank you brave braincells who gave your lives so I could enjoy my younger years, and thank you to the ones who stuck around and learned me to stop enjoying them so much.

In 7th grade a friend of mine brought a book to school called Big Secrets. It was the first in a series by author William Poundstone where he discusses some of the worlds “biggest secrets,” and outs them all for what they are. The eleven secret herbs and spices in the colonel’s chicken, was Walt Disney cryogenically frozen, what’s the formula for Coke, and plenty of other fascinating things to the 7th grade mind. The last chapter in the book was all about “backward masking” in music. For the unfamiliar, that’s where artists supposedly hide secret messages in their music by reversing the track. Backward messages in music became a big deal during the satanism scare of the 80’s, Geraldo talked about it on his satanism special (which, by the way – I was glued to the TV for, but more about my childhood fascination with the occult later). During that time Judas Priest even got sued over a fan who committed suicide, supposedly because he was subliminally urged to do so by hidden backward messages in their songs.

Anyway, I was fascinated with the idea that artists might hide backwards messages in their music. I rooted through all my old records to see if any of the ones mentioned in Big Secrets were among the musty boxful. I hit paydirt when I found Prince’s Purple Rain from my collection, and the Beatles’ “White Album” among my folks’ old vinyl. I sat and listened to the Darling Nikki clip forward, then pulled the record backwards across the stylus – it was awesome! I threw on Revolution 9 from the White Album and listened to the whole ~9min mess forward and backward a million times.

From then on I loved the idea of backwards stuff. I would record my voice on tape, spool out the recorded portion, cut it, flip it, and scotch tape it back in – just so I could hear myself say things backwards. Since reversed speech can actually change the phonetic sound and even syllable count in words, we would try and figure out what certain words would sound like backwards just so we could say them and reverse the tape to see how close we were. Kyle and I got so obsessed with backwards talking, we fashioned a tape reversing “machine” that aided us in extracting the audio tape, reversing it, and splicing it back together – with it we could reverse entire cassettes in under a minute. We learned the whole of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” backwards. We reversed songs, speech, random sounds – really whatever we could get our hands on. It was good times.

Anyway, if you couldn’t tell, the point of the last two paragraphs was to explain how I first got introduced to the Beatles. Yup, because I was looking for “Paul is dead” clues in backwards messages on the White Album when I got totally hooked on the music. It took me two paragraphs to say that.

Super random crap that came to me when no one was around and I couldn’t just blurt it out. But it’s gotta get out, or it will die the slow death of being forgotten. Three movies that I remembered from the old days: Bedknobs and Broomsticks; My Side of the Mountain; and The Electric Grandmother. What I remember from each: almost all the words to the “Portobello Row” tune; he eats mold, lives in a hollow tree, and has a pet raccoon; she pours orange juice out of her index finger.

Here’s my December comp thus far, you know I couldn’t go a whole blog without talking about music. Marvel at the newness and goodness that graces my ears while I work. And oh yeah, I finally got tired of the headphones I borrowed from Anthony, as they left my ears in crippling pain after two hours or so. I picked up another $16 pair from Wal Mart, maybe these will last. If my head wasn’t so damned huge and oblong, maybe I would get a more typical life from my headphones… but as it is now they tend to break under the immense outward pressure of my ginormous melon. Oh yeah, the comp:

Folder PATH listing for volume noo_chit
+---ben folds - speed graphic ep
+---bonnie prince billy - i see a darkness
+---clearlake - cedars
+---decemberists - castaways and cutouts
+---decemberists - her majesty the decemberists
+---explosions in the sky - the earth is not a cold dead place
+---quickspace - the death of quickspace
+---the prids - love zero
+---unicorns - who will cut our hair when we're gone
+---walkmen - bows and arrows
+---wrens - secaucus
+---wrens - the meadowlands

Haha! There ya have it, that’s the end and I’m done. Time to hit the sack now, because I have to go to work in the morning and do stuff. Oh, and Benz… you know I already ordered two tickets man, hopefully you can go.

Dave out.

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4 Replies to “four”

  1. Silly Dave, your observation that everything reduces to four was just a simple boy´s experiment in recursive lossy compression. It´s not some deep meta-physical secret.

    -Your friendly master computer scientist

  2. well, perhaps… if i understood what you said… i might agree with you.

    besides – it was such a "cheech & chong" night, it seemed like we stumbled on the meaning of life: four.

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