Back in the summer, Nathan Lively interviewed me for his excellent Sound Design Live Podcast. It was a really fun and wide-ranging discussion, covering show control, the role of networks on modern shows, my book (the official point of the discussion), challenges to getting good live sound, modern entertainment technology education, what I think about most theatre, and even severe weather and its role in recent stage collapses.
Nathan has now got the whole thing edited up and online, you should be able to listen to it below, or--better yet--subscribe to Nathan's podcast using your favorite podcast program.
I've been a subscriber to 2600 magazine,
"The Hacker Quarterly" since the mid-1980's, and I've spoken at the
last two of 2600's HOPE conferences (you can hear my talks and see the
slides here and here). Since the 1990's the 2600 team has put on a live show on WBAI radio here in NYC called Off the Hook. It was an honor last night to be a guest on their show, where I talked about my book, City Tech, and the Gravesend Inn. You can download an MP3 of the show here.
I got a very nice review from Michael Eddy over at Stage Directions for my book, Show Networks and Control Systems. Here's a key excerpt:
If you work with control systems and networks in any kind of entertainment technology application, I highly recommend this book. Even if you have one of the older editions, this is a significant update, well worth putting on your shelf as the go-to reference for networking and control.
HOPE Number Nine, the biennial hacker conference here in NYC took place two weeks ago. This was my fifth HOPE, and my second talk, titled "The Weather is Not Boring, Forecasting, Following, and Photographing Storms." I took the audio provided by the conference and synced it up with the slides (along with some bonus video!) and made this hour-long video. Watch full-screen HD for best resolution.
Back in April, I was interviewed about infrasound for season two of a show called either "Weird or What? with William Shatner" or "William Shatner's Weird or What?", depending on where you look. The show is produced out of Toronto by Cineflix, and they recently sent me a DVD copy of "Episode 17 - Paranormal Mysteries", in which I appeared; it looks like this episode started airing on History Television in Canada on Halloween. History Television is apparently not related to the US History Channel, but it does run some of the same shows, and claims to be, "the number one source for entertaining and engaging historical programming", which, "captivates Canadian audiences with gripping stories about the people and events that have shaped our world."
The producers contacted me on a referral by my friend Sarah Angliss, who, with another friend, the great psychologist Richard Wiseman, had done some fascinating infrasound research, which inspired me to do my own research on infrasound last year. As is apparently often the case with these shows, the producers already had an overall narrative in place, and were looking to me to tell a piece of that story for them. I had never been on one of these kinds of shows before, and I figured that--as long as I refused to say anything I didn't believe to be true--it would be an interesting experience (even, sadly, though Shatner doesn't go out to do the interviews). So, I said yes.
A Cineflix researcher asked if I thought that infrasound could have caused some of the phenomena a woman named Jackie Hernandez reported back 1989 in San Pedro, California. I had never heard of Hernandez, but googling around, I found a lot of paranormal sites with breathless recountings of the events, and also several versions of this video, from a show called "Phenomenon: The Lost Archives" which aired sometime in the 1990's. On that video, you can see actual footage shot in the Hernandez home, and an interview with Hernandez herself. It's too bad that Cineflix didn't (or couldn't?) use this original footage, because I think it helps explain the realities of the situation better than Weird or What's re-enactments, with telegenic actors shot in some sort of rustic cabin in Canada standing in for San Pedro.
The researcher called before the taping, and we went over a list of detailed questions about the Hernandez case. I was a bit nervous on the day of the interview, because--especially for someone who has spent his entire life backstage--it's always weird sitting in front of a camera. But the crew was very professional and focused, guiding me through multiple repetitions of my answers until I addressed all of the points the producers wanted to cover. Ironically for a show about infrasound, we also had to stop and restart many times because of the intense low frequencies caused by passing subway trains underneath the basement of my school building, where we recorded the interview.
Watching the finished episode, I feel like the producers treated me fairly, and I was surprised how little they actually edited me, leaving in tact some pretty long (and somewhat stumbling) statements. A few specific points about the program for those of you who can see it:
- They say that I believe, "... the Jackie Hernandez case can be explained by [infrasound]". Actually, I never said that. I do think that some of the reported phenomena, like seeing apparitions, could possibly be caused by exposure to Infrasound. Obviously, some of the other things reported (the "hanging") would need other explanations.
- That's Rational Acoustics' SMAART analysis program on the monitors behind me.
- Richard Wiseman has the Tandy and Lawrence research reports here.
- Here's the "Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory" report titled, "Mechanical Resonant Frequency of the Human Eye In Vivo" from August 1976.
- At the end of my segment, they imply that I think "my" theory about infrasound could explain "human plasma" coming from the walls, but I never addressed that issue at all.
Since I was only on the program to talk, narrowly, about infrasound, that's the area that I'll limit my comments to here, and if anyone wants to comment on what I actually said in the program, feel free. I didn't investigate or research the other reported events, so I can't really comment on them, although in general, I'm definitely with the great Carl Sagan in believing that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." And that's especially true for a "haunting", since if the Hernandez events could be proven to be true, they would entirely change our understanding of the physical world. That would be pretty cool, but for me, I don't feel like any of the paranormal investigators in the program provided evidence that would meet that "extraordinary" criteria. If better evidence existed, I would imagine "world-renowned parapsychologist" Barry Taff, who spearheaded this investigation, would by now certainly have claimed the million dollars offered by James Randi to anyone "who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event."
Future airings in Canada are listed here, and it's possible this might end up being aired in the US, since season one of the show apparently aired on the Discovery Channel, with Shatner's lead ins replaced, for some political reason, by Peter MacNeill.
Let me know if you see the show!
You can listen to it here.
I had just finished a string of very long days on the Gravesend Inn when I was interviewed, so I hope I wasn't too rambling or confusing...
Thanks very much to George and the gang for having me on!
In honor of my 30th high school reunion (holy crap, saying that makes me feel old!), I present to you, for the first time on the internet, The Bomb:
Bob Strickland and I shot this at Westtown School on Super 8 film, with post production cassette audio--the voice over and entire soundtrack were done in one take! All the film, obviously, was cut by hand, and then a few years ago I had the whole thing transferred to DVD and I resynch'ed the sound track. We won an "honorable mention" for the film at the National Student Media Festival of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology in April, 1981.
CUNYMedia interviewed me and my colleague Dr. Toija Riggins about our work researching infrasound:
Cablevision interviewed me as part of their coverage of the Gravesend Inn 2010.
My talk at The Next Hope (my conference writeup and photos here) was called Hacking for An Audience, and gives an overview of entertainment technology for live shows, details some of the ways we have "misused" technology in our industry, and also details some reliability strategies that we use to make sure that the show goes on. The conference organizers have now released free audio recordings of all the talks (I've downloaded many of the talks I missed for an upcoming road trip), and you can also buy videos of any of the talks here for a ridiculously low $5, with proceeds going towards conference expenses. I took the audio from my talk, edited the Powerpoint slides in, added a few bonus photos, and a bunch of links.
You can watch it here, it's just under an hour:
Or download the audio here (clicking that link will download the mp3 file). I really enjoyed giving this talk and can't wait for the next Hope (2012).