Nine Inch Nailed at the Sock Hop

It was one of those Fridays when I felt like I had nothing to wear because there was not one piece of clothing in the closet that made me feel sexy and confident and ready to take on the town.  My makeup was done, the cat eyes were purrfect and my lips were as red as a corvette.  That’s when my friends told me to go naked, so I did.  Mysteriously, by the time that we left the house I found I was dressed in a little white number with gold accessories- kind of reminded me of She-Ra, but it didn’t matter- we were going to the sock hop!

The group of us made our way down the street, in a manner strangely reminiscent of some video we’d seen in the days when MTV still aired those kinds of things.  We laughed, we joked, we pushed each other into oncoming traffic- we were carefree!  It was then that a man stepped forth from the alley and blocked our way.

“Hey, little girls,” he said, smelling curiously like Summer’s Eve Fresh Meadows, “I see that you’re on your way to the sock hop.”

“Why, yes, yes we are, but we mustn’t speak to you- you’re a stranger!” said my friend, who was dressed as Pedo-Bear.

“No, I’m no stranger!  Here, let me introduce myself,” at that moment, my friend’s phone chimed and she’d received a follow request from Twitter.

“Right, well then, we must be friends now!” She said and gave the brightly dressed man a hug,”My friend- what are you doing standing in this dark alley?”

“Well, I’m trying to get rid of these magic cigarettes.  They’ve been specially made for me by the bath salt company, but I’ve recently quit smoking!  I’m just not sure what I can do to get my money back and I’ve got to pay my rent tonight!”  The brightly dressed man was twitching so rhythmically that I thought he was moon-walking back and forth across the alley and my friend threw up her hands tossing her wallet at her new friend.  He then tossed her 2 boxes of cigarettes and ran faster than any skinny white kid since Maniac Magee and one phrase kept rolling through my head- stranger danger.

Taken from Pictureisunrelated.com

The rest of the way to the sock hop, my friends were pressuring me smoke one of these fancy cigarettes, but I’ve learned to live above the influence and continued to sip on slizurp while politely refusing their advances.  It wasn’t until the door man looked at me like a wolf that I noticed my party had not actually made it to the door with me.

“It appears that my friends have abandoned me!  May I please get in for free?” I asked sweetly.

“There’s no cover, love, go right on in!” he said with a wink.

I proceeded to the bar but was stunned at the scene before my eyes.  Millions of glowing, wolf like eyes had turned in my direction and were glaring at me as though I were a side of beef.  I coughed nervously, trying to determine if I could make a run for the door when a blood curdling scream came from the door.  My friends had finally gotten there, but to my horror they’d turned into Zombies in the time that we’d been apart- God Damn You Bath Salts!

They were viciously making their way through the crowd of fantastically good-looking werewolves that I’d found myself trapped by.  Ears flew by me and the white parts of my dress were slowing becoming covered in congealing crimson streaks of blood.  It was then that I noticed one of my favorite songs, Ringfinger, coming from the speakers and over the screams as the wolves began to turn into Zombies and assist my posse with dispatching the rest of the crowd.

  As the screams died down and my friends made their way back to the bar, I saw him standing there on the dance floor, still swaying as through holding the date that the guy next to him was chewing on.  It made my heart melt.  I went over to him and looked lovingly into his glistening cataracts.

“Hi there, what’s your name?”

“LeRoy, LeRoy Lamont,” he replied,”You know that your friend over their ate my fiance, right?”

“I’m so sorry about that, they were given these Bath Salt Cigarettes on the way here and I told them to just say no, but what can you do?”  The zombie chewing on LeRoy’s woman stood with two-thirds of an ear dangling from his tooth.  He’d been dressed like 1970’s Elvis, but had somehow managed to lose the pant part of the sequined jump-suit.

“Hey, Bubba. You don’t look so good. And why ain’t you wearin’ no britches?” LeRoy asked.  Elvis shrugged, groaned, and began to pick his way through the bodies in search of fresher meat.

“Would you like me to walk you home, little lady?”  My dress had now gone completely Crimson and my gold accessories were transformed into black leather.  He handed me a matching crimson cloak from the racks by the door as we walked arm-in-arm back toward my apartment.

And the moral of this rambling and pointless little farce is, well, who am I kidding- there really isn’t a moral, I’m just really bored.  HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY WEEKEND EVERYONE!

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Shameless Self Promotion

I’ve always found the idea of “Shameless Self Promotion” to be a bit of an oxymoron.  Why should we be ashamed of promoting ourselves and our own personal brand?  A fantastic blog article by Nathan Hangen points out, very aptly, that there is a big difference between promoting and “self-adulation”.  He is mostly referring to the difference between bragging about what you’ve done and giving people an idea or vision to follow.  I ultimately think that he’s right.

Let me refer back to my favorite example of my ambivalence toward self promotion- 30 Seconds to Mars.  As I’ve said before, love or hate the music, you cannot deny that these guys have nearly perfected the art of self-promotion and creating a vision for their extremely loyal fan-base.  Whether that is a result of the cult of personality that Jared Leto inspires or from not being terrible musicians or from being able to provide an exciting show while on tour, I don’t know.  I’ve never actually been to one of their shows 😉  The question that I keep asking is- would this be a good model for other aspiring artists, musicians, writers, etc… to follow in order to achieve some level of success?

It really doesn’t matter if your art is good or bad, but it does matter greatly if people are buzzing about you.  There are plenty of songs I would never have played unless someone else had told me about them.  Even more so, there are hundreds of books that I would never have picked up if I hadn’t read a good review of it.  With the ever flattening and globalizing world, we have less time to spend weeding and sorting through the media onslaught of stuff and there is an exponentially larger amount of product on the web for us to look at!

Everyone is advertising something these days.  I can’t seem to go 20 minutes without having my inbox full of junk mail or someone sending me a coupon of some sort for things that I have no desire to purchase.  But, this model works because for every one of us who throws it away, there is a chance that someone will be inspired to go out and buy!  The name of the game is volume and that hasn’t changed for decades- you all remember the onslaught of fliers and bulk mailers when we all still received letters from the post office.

To put this in perspective- there are over 7 billion people on this planet, most of whom have some sort of access to the internet or TV or some form of social media.  Let’s say that you are trying to sell a novel (or whatever else you’d like to sell) and it’s an e-book.  You now need to reach the millions (or more) people out there who read and who have an e-reader, so what do you do?  By the way- You also feel a need to make a bit of money on this proposition and you are not pricing your novel too high, let’s say $2.99 per download.  If you only sell 1000, then you’ve made $2990 and this doesn’t even cover the cost of self publication (even in E-Book).  You have a problem of volume and need to expand.

This is where the buzz comes in.  If people get to talking, then they will tell their friend and that friend will tell their friends, etc and so on, but the same applies whether you are good or bad.  For the sake of longevity, it would help to be good at what you do, but even 1 hit wonders made a little money on at least 1 song 😉  The same concept applies in business; a satisfied customer will tell 3 friends where an unsatisfied customer will tell 3000! (Here is the book by the same title)  It takes more money and effort to constantly bring in new customers than to retain loyal ones and this applies to artists as well as businesses.

What 30 Seconds to Mars has done is to create a cult like following by providing “Echelon” only special events and options to people who have joined the mailing list or liked their Facebook Page or follow them on Twitter.  Why is this ingenious?  Because it is 🙂  For all of the people who ignore their mailings, there is another group who are enticed by the offer to be a part of something, to feel special, and let’s face it- all customers want to be made to feel appreciated and special.  They want to feel like these larger than life guys care about them as individuals and that they understand whatever it is the listener thinks they are suffering through.  It is human nature to want to be a part of a tribe.  The other part of their success that doesn’t hurt is the fact that they are good looking men, and Jared Leto has had an eternal following of teenagers since the early 90’s.  They went into this endeavor with a bit of an ace up their sleeve, but were able to continue being successful because of the distance that they consciously put between the band and the previous Leto “Brand” associated with his acting.

From the literary side, there are quite a few successful authors who have published books under a pen name.  Most notably, Steven King and Anne Rice have both been published under multiple pseudonyms and the only explanation that I’ve ever read to explain this move is that what they were publishing had the potential to alienate their loyal readers.  The same really doesn’t apply to music, but there is always the potential for a side project to influence people happiness with the original artistic endeavor.

So, this rambling all started with me wondering if the 30 Seconds to Mars business model (I’m sure that there is another name because these guys didn’t invent this concept- I just don’t know it!) can be applied to any type of Shameless Self Promotion and I can’t see why it wouldn’t.  Social Media is free advertising, but you also need to find a way to catch people’s attention.  This is where my ambivalence comes in.  I’m not a person who is comfortable hyping myself up in any way, but to some extent, that is how you need to proceed in order to hook the customers and keep them coming back for more.  There is a fine line between promotions and bragging, but if you don’t leave the women wanting to take you home and the men dreaming about you, then you haven’t hooked them.  It’s all about selling yourself and your vision to the masses.

The Little Black Cat Collective

Just because he’s cute and the internet is obsessed with cats!

More so on the weekends, I find my mind wandering to the weird; no adult thoughts allowed 😉  I’ve been trying to put this title to a story for quite some time and I am officially throwing in the towel on it.  Some ideas are promising and fall very flat, c’est la vie!

It dawned upon me last night that even in adulthood it is possible to still feel the same way you did as a child beginning in a new school.  The butterflies, the annoyance, and the fear of starting something new and failing at least a little bit of it is terrifying.  Daunting is the best description I can think of when it comes to moving while still in K – 12th grades.  I did learn quite a few lessons from it though.

Lesson number 1- you can only be physically alone if you want to be.  I’ve heard this from people so many times over the years that it hurts my head to think about why nobody else does this and it is so simple- if you are new in town, go out and talk to people.  Yes, I guarantee you that you will be stared at like a crazy person, at least half of the time.  The rest of the time you will be ignored, ridiculed, or asked to leave, but the point is, all you need is one time of finding people with whom you can relate.  This will get the momentum going and more than likely, these are not the people with whom you will really bond, but the people who will keep you company through the longer search for true friendship.  ESPECIALLY in High School.

I can remember one move where I stayed in the house for a few weeks, maybe went to a movie, then finally got fed up with the boredom, looked my mother in the face and said, “I’m going out to make some friends now.”  And that’s exactly what I did.  I took the dog to the park and started talking to people until one of them seemed cool enough to hang out with!

Lesson number 2- Go with the crowd.  So, you’ve spent a good amount of time being shunned, unless of course you are popular and good looking (just a fact, don’t yell at me) and you have found a group of people that will take you in.  Now, I’m not suggesting that you should go against your own conscience.  You must be true to yourself, but you also need to weigh the risk and reward of telling someone what you are really thinking.  The only people who want honesty from you are people that you don’t know and those who truly love you.  Sometimes, even then, you should really have your edit button firmly set to delicate before you speak.

One fantastic and terrible thing that the internet has provided is a consequence free zone where people can say whatever they are thinking.  This can be good, but mostly it is bad.  The written word is constantly misconstrued (I am 100% guilty of being that guy) and the lack of physical que’s can allow a person to keep speaking past the point of good sense and truly hurting other unintentionally or intentionally (i.e.- cyber bullying).

Lesson number 3- People change, it’s not personal.  Alright, so you’ve drifted away from the friends that you’d made before you uprooted your life.  It happens.  They have been changing, you have been changing and, to be frank, who wants to stagnate?  If you don’t grow physically and emotionally, then you will not become the person that you want to be- where’s the excitement in that?!  You are never just one thing.  So you identify yourself as a jock, or a drama nerd, or an artist- does that mean that you don’t enjoy aspects of each?

I am a pretty boring person quite frankly.  I go to work in my neutral suits, do the grocery shopping, blog, write, and listen to music, but I enjoy theater, building things with table saws, Rugby, College Football, and if I had my way I would probably wear nothing but black.  What does that make me?

With each move, my mother would tell me, “It is a chance to re-invent yourself.”  Well, that got to be a bit tiresome by the 6th move and I really didn’t want to do it, but in that span I tried to join the choir (wasn’t too bad either), I tried to be a cheerleader (I was TERRIBLE), I joined Drama, was on a competitive swim team, and even dabbled in Role Playing Games (GREAT exercise for writers BTW), but none of the stuck.  When I got to college, I stopped trying and ended up looking like a hippie, took up scuba diving, then ran a men’s Rugby team.  I ask again- where would you categorize me?

Lesson number 4- Ignore all of the previous lessons.  The only lesson that you need to remember is the one that my Grandmother taught me when I was 5- treat others the way that you would like to be treated.  There is a caveat to this, not everyone is deserving of your time and energy, but don’t be rude.  Just flip on that internal “edit” button and walk away because, in reality, not many people honestly care what you think and you do yourself no service by making sure that they’ve heard you.  Pick your battles and know your enemy, that is also some of the best advice I’ve been given.  I’m just working on the application of it all- maybe I’ll get it by the time I’m 60 🙂

Do You Deja Vu?

The sense that you’ve seen something before, deja vu…..  I’d like to think that I’m a pretty down to earth kind of person, but there are a few things that I just can’t figure out, or perhaps I do not want to figure them out.  Deja Vu is one of those.

 

 

Here is a really interesting article from Psychology Today that discusses this as it related to memory (CLICK ME).  My only reason for thinking about this subject is related to my dreams.

Last night I had a dream.  I was awoken in my bedroom, a room that I haven’t lived in yet, though I knew that it was mine.  All of my licence plates were displayed on the wall, bent into the crease between the ceiling and the wall like a bracket and each one had a congee symbol stamped upon it.  The Japanese water-colors that my mother gave me were also prominently displayed with the wood-prints of  the kabuki theater that my father made.  There was memorabilia all over the walls and I’m not sure where it was all from, but I knew that it was my life.

I stirred from sleep and there was a man.  He was standing in the corner, staring at me.  I knew that this was an abnormal moment, but for some reason I wasn’t afraid.  The man was trembling and calm.  I said hello groggily and he responded with hi.  There was a long moment of awkward silence before I asked him what was going on.  He then asked me to tell him about all of the pictures and paintings that were hanging on the walls, focusing on the Japanese prints- where had they come from, what were they, what was the story behind them all.

As we were talking, my roommate (a woman that I don’t know yet) came into the room to see if I was alright because she’d heard voices.  She saw the man and gave me a look saying, “Go get him!”  The universal girls thumbs up sign and then she left 😉  He and I stared at each other and then he took my hand and held it to his chest like a child hugging a teddy bear.  That’s when I woke up.

I have no idea who this man was, I didn’t recognize him from any pictures or people that I currently know and I don’t know why he was so scared.

I’m not a big fan of dreams like this for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, they are really hard to shake.  I can’t do much with them other than replay the scene in my head and this rarely leads me to a better understanding of the dream outside of the obvious elements.

Secondly, I really dislike deja vu.  When I was younger, I guess that it held some sort of magic, but now it’s just irritating.  I can remember very distinct dreams and the moment that I felt as though I had seen it again, but each time it was something that made me say- well, damn, I should have remembered this and not done that.

The last dream that I had to give me this feeling was a few years ago and it stared a crazy red headed woman who made me squirm to be near her.  So, who should turn up later than year, but my new crazy red haired boss.  Had I honestly remembered this dream when they were making me the job offer, I can’t deny that I’d have had second thoughts.  But, it wasn’t until I was already pretty well entrenched in a bad situation that I even thought about it and it was the feeling of the moment that made me remember the dream.

I write these things down so that I can go back and re-read them in an attempt to figure out what was going through my head at the time.  And maybe, just maybe, one of these days I’ll be able to do more than spectate.  What about you?  Have you ever had an extremely strong sense of Deja Vu?

The House The Time Possessed – Part 1

The click of the lock started her heart beating at 1000 bmp and Jane knew that she was home.  Her first home.  The foyer looked into a darkened room as she shut and locked the front door behind her, but the darkness didn’t scare her.  It was as though, with the closing of that door, she was removing herself from the world and it gave her great comfort.  She finally felt safe somewhere.  She flipped the light switch and frowned.  The empty space of the living room was now illuminated and she began to check off the numerous and expensive pieces of furniture she would need to buy in order to furnish her new home.  With a sigh, she made her way to the kitchen where she saw that the Realtor, Jim, had left her a note sitting next to a bottle of water and a plate of cookies.  Jane expected to see a small thank you on the card or congratulations, but she did not expect that every inch of the paper would be covered in minuscule writing or that it would have continued to a folded piece of paper tucked within the card itself.  She took the plate of cookies and the water, and then settled herself onto the floor for what would surely be an interesting letter.

“Ms. Smith-

I would normally say congratulations on the purchase of your first home, but I can only stress once more to you that this house is special.  Please remember what I told you during the closing and do not invite anyone else to live with you and whatever you do, do not second guess your own eyes.  This is very important- DO NOT BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE CRAZY- you are perfectly sane, but sometimes there are impossible things in the world.  You are in for an amazing experience, Ms. Smith, if you can open your mind and your heart to it.  If you need to contact me, for any reason, all you need to do is place a note under the 3rd brick to the left of the front door and I shall call on you for a visit.  I do prefer tea and butter cookies.

Yours,

Jim

P.S. – Here is a list of important names and dates that you will need in the coming months- GOOD LUCK!”

Jane furrowed her brow in confusion.  Her Realtor had seemed like such a nice and not crazy guy.  As she read down the list, she became more confused.  The names began as early as 1859 and ran through the current year with her name as the last on the list.  It must have been a list of owners and tenants, but this made no sense either.  The house was only 25 years old.  Jane thought a little more to what Jim had told her when they were first touring the property, that this piece of land was first built upon when the town was founded in the 1800’s, but there has been so much development and growth since then she wondered how he could make such a list when surely thousands of people had lived on this land since the original settlers built upon it.

She looked down and saw that the cookies were gone and she now had a headache from trying to figure out why Jim would send her such a large bag of crazy on her first night in her new home.  Making a mental note to lose his contact information, Jane made her way to the bedroom where her only furniture was arranged neatly and ready for her to settle into.

When the sunlight hit her eyes, Jane remembered that it was Saturday and groaned, resolving to buy curtains first thing, but when she looked at her cellular phone, she began to get upset.  The phone told her that the time was 4am, but she was plainly staring at the rising sun.  Had she forgotten to reset her time for Daylight savings?  Logically, Jane knew that there was a satellite somewhere sending out a signal that did this automatically, but there were very few explanations that came to her mind for the disconnect that she was observing.  The next oddity to hit her senses was the scent of coffee.  Not the strong aromatic scent of an expensive coffee shop, but the smell that came from an old-fashioned percolator; the scent of her Grandmothers house in the mornings when she used to spend her summers out on the farm.  Her confusion was pressing at her temples and then the final sensory assault began- voices.

Jane jumped out of bed, silently thankful that she’d worn a nightgown last night, and moved to the corner of the bedroom, quietly listening to try to understand why there were voices in her house.  She heard laughter and talking, no yelling, no whispering, and nothing that seemed malevolent.  For a moment she had convinced herself that the neighbors were simply having an out-of-doors breakfast and then came the scent of bacon and the sound of pans being moved around in the kitchen.  She was now terrified and fumbling her hands toward the closet door to hide from these unknown intruders.  Jane felt around on the wall behind her and finally got to the knob, opened the closet, and got inside.  She took a deep breath, trying to make sense of all of this and came to the conclusion that she must have squatters and that they hadn’t realized that the house had been sold- that must be the case.  As this justification ran through her mind and she began to believe that this must be what is going on, she heard a small mew from inside the closet and then felt something brushing against her bare feet.  That was the last straw.  Jane jumped up, nearly knocking the closet door off of its hinges and made a mad dash toward the front door, screaming her head off.

It wasn’t until she’d unlocked the front, gotten outside, and run to the end of the driveway that Jane realized- it was dark.  She took in the pre-dawn night that still covered her neighborhood and also noticed that the house was entirely dark and empty.  Carefully, she made her way back toward the house, listening with every footstep for the sounds of the people who had been making breakfast in her kitchen, but there was only silence and the occasional owl.  A deep breath crashed its way out of her lungs with a slight laugh.  How could she be such a little child!  She’d simply had a nightmare and been sleep-walking.  With that assurance to herself, Jane once again entered her new house to see a pitch black living room.  She proceeded to close and lock the door and with the click of the dead bolt, the world around her came to life with the morning sun shining through the windows and the smell of pancakes, bacon, and coffee wafting at her from the large dining table that had appeared before her eyes.

“Jane! Darling! Pull up a chair dear, I’ve poured you some coffee,” said a smiling woman wearing a long dress and apron straight out of the 1948 Sears Catalogue.  Jane screamed and proceeded to faint spectacularly.

The interviewer and Mr. Kill make a good point- when was the last time you heard something that struck you like a ton of bricks? Something that just hit you upside the head with it’s newness? I’ve found myself revisiting artists in lieu of trying to sift through the auto-tuned crap that passes for top 40 radio in this day and age. I don’t care if you can’t sing in 4 octaves so long as you’ve got a good song and understand that art form that you’ve chosen to express yourself with. A kick ass bass line wouldn’t hurt either 😉 ENJOY! and thank you to backtothemusic.wordpress.com for the fantastic site!

P.S.- Check out the author!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/candacesykes
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Email: candaceasykes@yahoo.com

backtothemusic

Right now, industrial techno music is all the rage. While you’re listening to the new acts or reliving some pioneers like Nine Inch Nails, there’s an up-and-coming artist you should be noticing. Negative Earth takes a modern twist to some industrial dark rock. Or, as Trev Kill likes to call it, electronic gravity rock.

“I think that most of today’s genres are a bit inane.  There are so many new classifications out there for music that it gets ridiculous.  I hate to categorize myself into a genre, but to attract the right listeners to my sound I need to label myself somehow. Electronic Gravity Rock is just a more interesting way to describe the sound as being of the Heavy Electronic Rock genre,” he says. “It was kind of a joke at first but it started to grow on me.”

Negative Earth is mostly made up from the efforts of Trev…

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