Ryan Barrington Cox bio photo

Ryan Barrington Cox

Ryan makes things in Asheville, NC.

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Welcome to Trail of Sparks!

Ryan Barrington Cox bio photo

Adapt 08/04/2017

It’s taken me 25 years of playing music to realize that you don’t figure out how to make the sounds you’re after. You figure out how to adapt your sounds to different spaces, moments, people, times, weather, feelings. You never get all the way there. It keeps unraveling, going deeper and deeper.

Adapting and listening, staying nimble with empathy for the moment. These are the great skills, and they go well beyond music.

Things 07/31/2017

Things to get good at:

  1. Being an awesome husband and father.
  2. Living healthily via meditatation, exercise, eating right and sleeping.
  3. Making art as a street musician, comedian and software tester.

Bandcamp 04/04/2017

I just posted some new and old audio content on my bandcamp page, including -

It’s an interesting thing to go back 5, 10, 15 years and see how my voice, writing and perspective have changed.

I’m glad I’ve recorded things along the way.

Sketches 03/09/2017

Here are 30 ditties that were made up quickly and recorded on my iPhone over the past year.

There’s something about capturing a song just before it’s completely written.

Birbiglia 03/08/2017

Read this interview with Mike Birbiglia, who blends stand-up comedy and storytelling masterfully. Here are some excerpts that struck a chord

You need to make your stories about the audience, and not really about yourself, even though you’re saying a lot of details about yourself, you’re really trying to tap into what it is that you and the audience have in common.

I always defer on the side of thinking the other character is better or nicer or smarter than me in the story. Especially my wife.

There are certain conveniences in storytelling that tend to not bore and confuse the audience, because when you’re telling a long-form narrative, really what you’re gonna do is convey like a big, long story as though it were a really simple story. Like, I think one of the really good exercises that one of my college writing professors taught me about screenwriting is that — and I think this goes for storytelling too — you should be able to tell it really quickly. Supposedly Steven Spielberg doesn’t like movie pitches that are more than 25 words… You want to be able to just convey it quickly. Because ultimately, those details and those kind of long strung out unrefined narratives, those are for your therapist. Audiences come to see refined, thought-through, well-articulated stories.

Speaking 03/01/2017

I haven’t written here in a while because I’ve been obsessed with speaking, with comedy, with writing for the spoken word (or not writing at all, just pivoting on the fly).

Feeling the gravity of the crowd and trying to play that space eloquently - it’s really something big.

Reasons 11/12/2016

Reasons I enjoy performing comedy more than music:

  • Laughter
  • No load in
  • No sound check
  • No scheduling practices
  • No tuning up or changing strings
  • I get to be around other comedians (they think differently)
  • There’s no ambiguity about whether shit is hitting or not
  • The rawness of having only your body and voice
  • No load out

ZigZag 11/10/2016

The road to glory isn’t straight.
Sometimes you fall down and eat shit.
If you want to ride the zig, you’ve got to deal with the zag.

Hating 11/09/2016

Hating on hate
is an infinite loop.

Life Lesson 10/28/2016

If you’re not making an
ass of yourself once
in a while, you’re
not doing
it right.

Norm 09/28/2016

Joke-writing interests me.

I think up something I think is funny and usually find out later that it’s not funny to others. Or worse, it’s offensive.

What is humor anyway?

My working theory is that funny ideas have an underlying conflict (i.e. surprise, contrast, exaggeration).

I found this interview with Norm MacDonald where he talks about “writing” long-form jokes without ever writing anything down. Here is an excerpt I found interesting.

So, what I try to do now is whatever honestly interests me. I kind of try to ruminate on that subject for as long as I can, and if I can find some dissonance—like for instance just yesterday I was thinking about my friend who is a vegetarian. Now this is not very funny, but I know it will be very funny when I’ve figured it out. But I suddenly realized, as I was talking to this girl, who I always kind of thought was nuts, and I suddenly realized as she was talking to me that I agreed with her. Ethically, it’s not right to kill animals if you don’t have to to survive, but I will never be a vegetarian. I do now kind of believe it is akin to murder, but I’m willing to do it for a juicy Carl’s Jr.

I know that there is comedy right there in that dissonance between what I do and what I believe in my heart. I know there is comedy in there and I know that if I ruminate long enough, I know that I will have fifteen minutes of material on that exact subject, because there are things that are always percolating in the back of your mind that you are too lazy to catch and grab. It’s very hard to be aware of what you’re thinking of because you are just thinking of it in the moment.

As long as the subject is important enough—I shouldn’t say important—as long as the subject is interesting enough, then I can find variations on the theme. A thousand variations on the theme. Just attack it from every possible angle.

So what I do is I have the idea, and then I go on stage and just talk for as long as I can until they stop laughing. And then usually well beyond when they stop laughing. Then eventually it winds down and becomes very strong after that. I have to take a beating before I get there.

Rails 09/27/2016

This post
has gone
off the

Yum 09/23/2016

Trains howl in the distance.
Sipping beer on the porch.
Crickets harmonize.
Good night.

Blackbirds 09/21/2016

Here’s one
for the blackbirds
who caw at steel trucks
from the fingers of trees,
sharpening their beaks
on blades of grass,
still laughing.

Joke 09/12/2016

Jokes are crazy little critters
that can bring people joy,
offend them or,
in most cases,
just get swept away
in the cyber winds of time.

911 Jokes 09/11/2016

There’s something kinky about hoses.

Can’t wait to meet my daughter’s boyfriends and destroy them with bad jokes.

That horrible guy that shot up the doggy day care with a semi automatic chocolate gun.

If earth’s life was compressed into one year, human beings would appear at 11:35pm on New Year’s eve and they’d be trying to get a sloppy kiss.

When you look up at all those distant shining stars and think, “Damn… I forgot to take those clothes out of the washer.”

Sax is like pizza.  Even when it’s bad, it’s pretty good with Springsteen.

With a heavy heart, I had to take a shit in your bathtub.

Liners 09/09/2016

I envision an America where no one pays extra for Guacamole.

As a kid, I played alone in the tunnel behind my house. A little game called “The Last Pringle.”

Buy my album and 100% of the proceeds go towards making the next album that I will pressure you to buy.

It breaks my heart when I see a soldier come home from war to his family cause we need that guy out there killing people.

What would Jesus do?  Probably something amazing or brave cause he has superpowers, but not everyone can walk on water and do magic.

It’s quiet simple, Watson. I knew he was the murderer by the way he stabbed his Capri Sun.

There was a killer commute working from home today. My daughter left her ponies on the stairs.

There was nothing we could do, sir.  The place went up in smoke when Brad Pitt got an erection.

Slow down and package those gifts carefully, Eric. This is not a wrap battle.

Life Hack: If you can’t afford a white noise machine, sleep next to seashells.

Hipster bartenders are like cats. You have to ignore them to get service.

Free Bird: Another classic tune about shitting in the sky.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of diarrhea.

Disappointingly, breakfast at Tiffany’s was cold cereal.

Wikipedia: Hey can you spare a few bucks for progress?
People: Yes, but I don’t have my wallet on me right now.

Has anyone found a blue coin purse full of jellybeans?

An old early worm is one tough fucking worm.

I liked Rubik’s early work, like the Sphere.

I’m just peachy. How you like them apples?

Sometimes you just gotta bite the snake.

Random 09/07/2016

Spelling is hrad.

Tarzan was well hung.

I remember a time when people set clocks.

Hey Chewbacca, can I get one of those Tic Tacs?

You guys are looking at me like I’m some jerk who doesn’t leave Amazon reviews.

It’s cool that firetrucks are helping people, but I wish they didn’t have to tell everybody.

While we were out of town, a cat burglar broke into our house, scratched up the carpet & drank all the milk.

I’m like Vincent Van Gogh, without the burden of being unforgettably talented.

Why does everybody hate Monday? It’s one of the top ten days of the week.

The Beatles and the Stones are like apples and oranges. Very similar.

He’s the best I tell you, a real natural born plastic surgeon.

My cool, calm demeanor crumbles in the checkout line.

It’s crazy how some people think everything is crazy.

Crap. I accidently clicked “Skip Ad ».”

I feel better now that I’ve said this.

Soften 09/03/2016

and jaw.


Radical Acceptance 09/02/2016

Some key takeaways from Zara Brach’s wonderful book, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha.

  • Love yourself.
  • Forgive yourself and others.
  • We are all connected. Helping others is helping yourself.
  • Pause and accept. No need to react, say too much or add tension to difficult situations.
  • Come home to the body. Make time every day to sit in stillness. Watch the breath. Thoughts and feelings dance. Watch them without judgement.
  • Desire is part of the human condition. It’s normal to compare yourself to others, to want more than you have. Be aware of desire and its tendency to bring suffering.
  • Be grateful for what you have.
  • Let things be.

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