I've often wondered
where music will go in this brand new century we are entering. In
my mind I imagine there may be the continued use of the 6 string
guitar, but might be integrated with more electronic type music
in the future.
Chris and I feel we have that new sound which could be considered to be
a mix of synth-pop and rock. We aspire to be a "thinking band,"
hence Neo Cortex, a part of the most evolved brain in humans. When
I write I try to compose and make connections to the grand scheme
of things in this realm of life we live in, and not just about what
I consider the over played and over used theme of love in today's
music. I believe there are many other topics to discuss other than
this. We would like to open a new perspective of various contents,
and this comes from my psyche, and Chris's fingers playing the keyboard.
I am captivated by the possibilities of creating a synthetic but
very real form of energetic and creative use of machines to help
produce a hybrid of rock and roll.
I respect and admire pioneering techno and older synth-pop bands
for charting a region of unexplored territory with the synthesizers
of yesterday. Two of my favorite examples are New Order, (an English
band,) and Kraftwerk, (a German band.)
At this point in time so much more is possible to create electronic
music than it was in the older days of the 1980's. Things are
digital now, among other major developments. I feel things that
can be done are today are incredible and may be endless with technology
in the future.
To me it seems difficult to keep up with the latest gear available
for bands like ours. This depicts the explosion of this modern
form or type of music and the trend to promote it. When I first
began with the band "The Beat Freaks" in 1993 along with my keyboardist
Trevor, we only had a 4-track, a SY-35 Yamaha keyboard, 1 synth
card, and a simple mike to do vocals. We would record on tape
then, but now, with Neo Cortex everything is computerized and
there is no such thing as tape. This is quite a difference! Chris
and I can create a new song so much faster than this older medium.
This shows me how things can change so rapidly for musicians like
us and those starting out.
Despite all of this, I believe it's really creativity that helps a band
work. Compatibility and chemistry are also key factors and without
these, (and I've experienced it,) nothing works.
10:45 AM. It proved to be the beginning of a magical time on that heated summer morning.
I briskly drove the three-mile trip to see my friend Chris to record
some music. When I reached his house situated on Kinderhook Lake,
I got out of my green Subaru Outback, and my blue and white gummy
skateboarder shoe touched the ground. It stuck to the pavement like
strawberry jelly and made a sticky sound. I noticed the bright yellow
sunflowers near the front door. They were standing nearly at my
height. I heard my bandmate's dog Hitchcock, a border collie, barking
loudly welcoming me to his domain.
For some reason I counted the thirteen wooden steps as I climbed up the stairs of
his garage. I didn't realize going up those stairs to his studio
would signal a long lasting creative scenario. When I reached the
top flight I gently opened the door and Chris smiled intently and
energetically shook my hand. I heard the positive "all right!"
from him as I walked in. I immediately felt something special was
about to happen.
Chris took a small square cloth and carefully dusted off the modern-looking red Korg
Karma synthesizer. He walked slowly over to his white air conditioner
and turned it on. He commented that it was "proboscis"
in the studio, or in common terms, very hot.
I felt excited and sat down on his small but comfortable white chair and pulled up
the black footstool to lay my lyric sheets on. From this moment
on we would have no rules, boundaries, or limits concerning our
There was a metallic tea kettle to my left and it was furiously brewing a pot of water.
I settled in and made myself comfortable. I was sitting on a big
red and black oriental rug. Chris appeared focused with a small
guitar pick in his mouth. This would be our first two -hour session
above his garage.
The warm sunlight poured through the skylight on me. I joked to Chris that I had "sunshine
on my shoulder." Different cables lie strewn across the floor.
I reached into my overstuffed blue music bag and pulled out an orange
juice and plastic bottle of water to re-hydrate myself on this hot
I continued to survey my newfound surroundings. I peered at a big green healthy jade plant
and several guitars of various colors. The walls were covered with
forest green and charcoal black acoustic tiles to sound proof the
room. I remember there was also a very attractive calendar with
a beautiful painting by Monet on display with rich and vibrant blue
and green colors.
Off to my immediate left sat something that looked like it was from a 1950's science
fiction movie. It was a giant mixing board with room for at least
64 tracks. I was thinking that it would be serious business when
we get around to recording with all this equipment.
In front of Chris was a curious old looking mirror. I asked him about it and he said
it was a feng shui thing. He faced away from the door yet he could
still see in back of him. I muttered aloud "what a concept!"
Two squarish black amps were placed in the back of the room. I noticed that there was
a temperature gauge next to the window. It told the temperature
inside and out, the date, and the relative humidity. It was climate
controlled in the studio. I could feel the cool wisps of air on
my arms and neck. I would discover later that Chris was very interested
in weather conditions and patterns.
It was 11:05 AM and time to start the recording process. We began that morning by
thinking about making hooky guitar riffs, finding buzzy synths,
and tight beats that would become our musical signature.
That day we launched into a great level of productive interaction. The computer was fired
up. Chris said "Let's find some really cool beats!" and
he tapped out a steady rhythm with his right foot along to a computerized
drum. He hooked up my microphone, and I became "digital."
Next came the keyboard melodies and then my vocals.
I believe we were destined to have prolific energy. We have shared much laughter and
fun, and have been together as the band "Neo Cortex" for
over 22 years now. I have written over 300 pages of lyrics. This is our story. Who knows why it started.
I just thank God for being able to jam upstairs with Chris.
Dr. Parker Hall and The Realm of Absurdity
Tuesday, September 3
Hello class. Welcome to 20th Century British Literature. My name is Dr. Parker Hall,
but you can call me Parker. As you'll soon find out, I'm a great
fan of Samuel Beckett, a writer who lived from 1906-1989. We'll
be learning about "the theater of the absurd" and other good stuff
related to this form. We'll be looking at his play called Krapp's
Does anyone know what absurdist drama is? Wait. Before we get into this premise,
I'd like everyone to stand up. Good. Now sit down. OK. Stand up.
Sit down. Stand up again. And sit down. Excellent. Let's move on.
Now that we've broken out of convention we can discuss the world
of the absurd.
Can everyone say "spooool." Try it.-Good, class. That is a line
from Krapp's Last Tape. It's funny, I seem to have a lot
in common with this character. For example, I have a fetish for
bananas, have problems with my bowel movements, and I like to drink
alcohol, especially when I teach my students. I also have my brooding
moments. I'm sure you'll find these things out as we study together
throughout the semester. Ha, Ha.
There's another dude that we need to cover who has much to do with
the world of the absurd. His name was Jean-Paul Sartre. He thought
reality was very absurd. He said if we were a rock or inert object,
we might feel much better about things, although this isn't possible.
He believed there is no one right meaning, or even the best meaning
according to him. Due to this, there's no real purpose in reality,
including going to college for that matter?!, but we have to make
choices about what to do with our lives. So you see then, he felt
this situation was absurd! As human beings, we are forced to make
important decisions lacking good reasons.
Anyway, the definition for absurdity is something ridiculous, something
irrational or illogical. Do you understand me so far? Let's move on.
Absurdism basically is the idea that the universe has no meaning or order,
and people, while desperately trying to figure it out, only come
into conflict with its goings on. In Beckett's plays life seems
to stop, and his characters do purposeless actions that underline
no purpose for their lives, as with our friend Mr. Krapp. So, guys,
be prepared to talk about your ideas about the play next time.
Thursday, September 5
Welcome back everyone! I want you to do something. As you walk into the
room, close your eyes and find a place to sit by feeling your way
around. I'll count to ten. Those that have found a seat by the time
I'm through counting can take the day off, and won't have any homework
for next time. (Ten seconds go by.) Great! It looks like only five
of you did it! Now, everyone else, let's get into the assignment.
First of all, what do you think of Mr. Krapp? Yes, Jennifer. What
do you think?
"Well, he's kind of creepy. I don't like him very much. He doesn't
have a life, and doesn't take care of himself."
John, you had your hand up...
"I feel sorry for Krapp, he seems lonely and wants to remember his
past through those spools he's always talking about."
That's true, John. Anyone else? Yes, Samantha.
"He's an absolutely disgusting excuse for a human being! What a
So we all have some different views about the play. That's good. Now
I'll get back to some more lecture and maybe we can all get a little
closer to what Beckett had in his mind while he wrote.
If we look at the character Krapp, human experience is fragmented
and seems not to have purpose. This concept was shared in a visual
manner. It is related to Dadism and Surrealism in art. I will discuss
this connection later on. In both of these media, logic was thrown
out. The human situation Beckett portrays lacks purpose. I think
it holds a negative or pessimistic view of humanity, which tries
to maintain a way to be in control of its fate. As this occurs,
mankind only feels anxious, hopeless, and confused. If we examine
the behavior of Krapp, he appears silly. It gives the play a comic
effect. This style of writing may well be considered a form of the
Class, let's take a look at one of the texts I've assigned you to
study. Take out "The Real Mother Goose" originally published in
1916 by Rand McNally and Company, Chicago. It is a book of rhymes.
Open your books to page 24 and we'll examine a fine piece of 20th
century prose. To get the full impact I'll read it aloud for all
of you. It is entitled "The Flying Pig." "Dickory, dicory, dare,
The pig flew up in air, the man in brown soon brought him down,
Dickory, dicory, dare." Brilliant! A flying pig! What a great concept!
What could be better! I want all of you to write a 5 page paper
discussing your opinion about flying pigs. It will be due next class
and may be written in crayon, but only in blue.
Think about this for a second, my scholars, and consider your own
reality. Anything anyone thinks may simply be imaginary. OK? Listen
to this. You may only think you're listening to me. Right now you
could be dreaming! Maybe every one is hallucinating right now! That's
just something for you to think about in the dining hall tonight
while you're eating your semi-boneless spaghetti and meatballs.
How about we challenge reality once more? Have you ever heard of
a guy by the name of Baruch Spinoza? No one has. All right, well,
he thought of a philosophical premise known as "Vitalism." It is
the belief that reality is all one substance, including God and
nature. Everything that exists is part of this one substance, which
is capable of thought. Let me give you an example of this. Just
try to follow this for a minute. Let's say that you're always losing
things or breaking them. Spinoza believed that the old painting
you received from grandfather on your wall was so upset, that it
wanted to end its existence, so it jumped off your wall as you walked
into the room! Is this too far out? Maybe so. Maybe not. You decide.
Is this too absurd for you? What do you think Beckett would say
about all of this?
I'd like to take some time now and go back a little when I mentioned
Dadism and Surrealism in art. It seems that the same feeling of
pessimism and despair links it to the absurdity that Beckett wanted
to put across in his plays. I can see an odd connection to what
these visual artists were doing at that time. It is an example of
anti-art, a philosophy of negation.
You might remember Marcel Duchamp. He had a tendency to use nonsensical
word repetition. I think a fun example of his work is when he penciled
a mustache and beard on the painting of The Mona Lisa. I guess it
just had to be done! I'm not sure if he defaced her, or added to
Another one of these artists from this period, a guy called Arp, said that
"Dada is, like nature, without meaning." It was a senseless and
useless vision of life itself that these artists were creating.
The artist Schwitters made objects in his work "Ambleside" absurd
that freed him from average everyday qualities.
Taking absurdity even a step further, or perhaps to its limit, the
artist Baader shouted at worshippers in The Berlin Cathedral that
"Christ is a sausage!" Quite an eccentric fellow, indeed, wouldn't
Let's talk a little about Surrealism now, before the end of class
today. Surrealism can be thought of as the absence of any control
of the process of reasoning. This, of course, sounds very familiar
to Beckett's writing. A good example of this type of thinking is
a work called "Man in a Bowler Hat" by the Belgian Rene Magritte.
He played with the fundamentals of visual absurdity. In his depiction,
a white bird flies directly in front of a man's face. He is sharply
dressed in a shirt, hat, and tie. It leaves the onlooker with a
sense of puzzlement and ambiguity.
I have to tell you all, I'm a very busy man. I have to go home now
and paint my car with a roller. Later tonight I'll grade your papers
with my sunglasses on. I'll have to go to a Flat Earth Society meeting
tomorrow afternoon. Everyone knows that the earth isn't round! Anyone
interested can attend. If you do, I'll give you an "A" for taking
part. I don't know if I ever told you this, but I am actually an
alien in disguise from a far off planet. I've arrived here to help
teach young Homo sapiens how to live in peace and achieve wisdom
through education. Any questions? I think that's enough for today.
Keep hitting the books, folks! See you next time...
The Tortoise and the Hare - What they Didn't Tell You
The way they told it was a lie. It was a conspiracy, a cover up. I won
the race. I'm the hare. Let me explain and back up a bit.
The tortoise and I were neighbors. We lived in a small town. It was
a comfortable place, with a good economy. Everyone seemed to blend
in. All except for a particular tortoise family, which resided here.
This family was slow at everything they did. They were slow at walking,
slow at talking, slow at eating, you name it! It was so pathetic!
Why couldn't they act like everyone else?!
Of course, you know I'm part of the rabbit species, and thus a part
of a superior evolutionary branch of animals. I am quick-witted,
well coordinated, and also fast when it comes to locomotion. I have
long hind legs specially adapted for leaping and beating turtles.
I'm part of the esteemed Leporidae family. I have long ears and
a keen sense of smell. So, you see, I could only be described as
number one, here or anywhere.
Anyway, we had a race, but there's other stuff to tell you about before
I get to the race and the tortoise's fate.
I must tell you, I have a lot of children, because rabbits normally
do. I run this town and I am the greatest mayor ever. No one can
beat me at anything. My name is Henry. The tortoise's name
was Ted. He had two children. One named Ted jr., and the other named
Tommy. They were as equally incompetent as their father. They went
to school with my children. They were bad students, and slow just
like Ted. Ted's kids were unpopular at school, and nearly
everyone thought Ted Sr. was a jerk, too.
Well, let me tell you a little more about this fool known as Ted, something
that wasn't told in the other version of the fable about us.
First of all, he was a chain smoker. He would smoke at least two
or three packs a day. He was fat, hardly fit inside his shell, and
never exercised. He liked to eat fried lettuce and bacon sandwiches
with butter for lunch everyday. He liked to drink, was considered
an alcoholic, finishing a six pack of beer every night all by himself.
He was a slow learner, and dropped out of high school. Ted had poor
vision, and wore thick glasses. He was a bus driver.
Anyway, that's the real story about Ted that you haven't heard.
They really put me down in the other translation, how he won that
race, as if I can't compete with a lethargic, incompetent
They also didn't include in the other version of the story that
I was a champion runner in college. I always made the Dean's
list, and graduated with honors. I don't eat junk food like
Ted did. I stay in shape, am in my prime, and I eat a lot of carrots
I didn't like Ted at all. He needed to be put in his place.
He didn't even deserve to be in this town. The gene pool could
only get worse and we can't afford this to happen. I lived
here my whole life, with this inadequate guy Ted, and only the fittest
shall survive, so that means that Ted should be out of the game.
It was awhile after graduating from college when I said to him one
sunny day: "I challenge you to a race." Believe it or
not, Ted wanted to race me! You'll see later. I'm sure
by now you're thinking, why would Ted want to race against
me?! He honestly doesn't have a chance at beating me. I gave
him the option to back out of it, though.
I was doing some shopping at the local grocery store when I ran into
Ted getting out of his old, beat up, puke green car. The car looked
like it was going to fall apart. It had no muffler. The tailpipe
was hanging off, nearly on the ground, not to mention an ugly patch
of rust all over the left side of his car.
"Hey Ted," I yelled to him. "Listen, I have a deal for you.
I will save you the embarrassment of losing the race to me if you
publicly announce in the town's newspaper that I, Henry Hare,
am and will always be the greatest runner in the world." I
set up the race with Ted so there would be no question in anyone's
mind about my ability to win in an athletic competition against
To my surprise he said in his slow, dull, manner, "ER.. UM..
UH.. NO.. HENRY.. I.. WILL.. CHALLENGE.. YOU"..(cough, cough,
wheeze, wheeze, wheeze.)
"OK," I said, "Have it your way!" And so the race was set
up for the next Friday.
Later that week, before the big day of the race, I was shocked to hear
from my friend Peter the pig, that Ted was actually training for
the event with his coach, Freddy Frog.
I thought to myself that nothing would help him beat me now. Why won't
he just give up and save himself all this trouble and humiliation?!
It was just a couple of days before the race, when I thought I would
spy on Ted and Freddy while they trained outside. I hid behind a
big tree and listened. I overheard Freddy say to Ted, "Too
bad you didn't have my legs, then you could hop really fast
and beat Henry."
"ER.. UM.. UH.. YEAH.. FREDDY.. I'LL.. TRY.. TO.. DO.. SOME.. MORE.. PUSH-UPS..
(cough, cough, wheeze).. THEN.. I'LL.. TRY ..SOME.. MORE.. SIT-UPS..
I.. KNOW.. I.. CAN.. BEAT HIM ..FREDDY.."(wheeze, wheeze.)
Well, now it was just about time for the big race. I was so cool, and
showed up in my brand new black, BMW convertible, with a pair of
ray ban sunglasses and wearing my "Hare Jordan" sneakers.
I'm sure I impressed all of the townsfolk lined up on the
side of the track, no doubt.
I got out of my car and looked over my shoulder and saw that Ted was
pulling up, and getting out of his green jalopy, and I said to him:
"Ready to race?--- You're drunk!, and what's that?,
and a cigarette in your mouth? Now that will help you win the race!?
Ha, Ha. What a loser! Even the townsfolk are pointing and laughing
at you! You're a joke!"
So we lined up on the mark. The course was set for one mile. The gun
fired --- BANG!!! --- And we were off! I just walked slow
and took my sweet time. After only a minute or so, Ted was having
"Don't you wish you put that statement in the newspaper, now, while you
were ahead, you staggering, no good for nothing lush!" I said.
Well, a long story short, I'd say not even a tenth of a mile into
the race, Ted could not bear it any longer. After plodding along
as fast as he could, he finally died of a heart attack.
So, you see the story they originally told about us was gunk. I was
the true winner, and the tortoise most certainly did not beat the
hare in this race.
Well, after the glorious race happened, Ted of course was gone, and I
achieved my goal. I was glad he wasn't around anymore, it
was definitely better for everyone in town. I felt no remorse. We
had the race fair and square. I didn't cheat, and won it honestly.
I didn't kill Ted, the race did.
Ted had a basic funeral and was buried. His gravestone wasn't
fancy. He was placed in an old cemetery on the outskirts of town.
I'm sure no one would really ever visit it anyway, except
perhaps his family or maybe his only friend, Freddy. The site was
simple just like Ted was. I guess it suits him to end in this way.
My kids naturally taunted Ted jr. and Tommy after their father lost
the race, and his life. Maybe someday there will be a race between
one of my kids and Ted jr. or Tommy, but I know the outcome would
be the same. I wonder if his kids would be brave enough, or silly
enough, to try and beat my offspring maybe sometime in the future.
What a concept, eh?
I was told that Ted jr. and Tommy were embarrassed about their father's
attempt. I have no respect for that turtle family. They're
all a pitiful case, really. When my kids throw rocks at them on
the way home from school, all they do is hide in their shells, scared
and terrified. What cowards they are!
Victory is sweet! It only reinforces the feeling of success for my family
and me! What better way to show the world of a hare's conquest
and prowess! I deserve all attention and praise from my town. My
next generation will be as strong and have as much confidence as
I have this very day. This, my friend is no lie!