As part of the fallout from being sick last week, I didn’t drink any coffee (or anything), and then stuck with it as I continued my recovery.  I didn’t exactly make a conscious decision to quit coffee, and I haven’t been itching to Loose this Filthy Habit for some time now.  In fact, I just decided – almost arbitrarily – to quit.  I just didn’t make any one day.  Or the next.  And when I noticed I had a streak going, I just stuck with it.  Sunday will mark a full week without coffee.  I have largely been drinking herbal tea, with plenty of soda water to keep me going.

I’m not exactly sure I could say what the effects of this practice have been, if there have been any, to be honest.  For all I know, I’m only just now fully recovered from being sick, though that is up for debate, certainly.  And I’m not sure if my relative “tiredness” is a scale that I can use to measure things just yet, as that itself is not precisely a result of no-coffee, so to speak.  In fact, while something is different certainly, and I can feel a small change of some kind, I’m not exactly sure if that is just a relative “balanced” effect that is split across all other physical attributes (I just feel a “tiny” bit better, across the spectrum), or if I’m just looking for something to measure just because.

Either way, I’ve decided that I will give up coffee for the time being, not so much for any particular reason save for the experiment of the situation.  I have been drinking coffee consistently since I was 17, and I don’t really think anything of it to drink it a few times a day, every day.  And this sort of matches the perception of the world at large, too.  EVERYONE drinks coffee.  All the time.  Everywhere.  My own father is proud to say that he will drink coffee at any hour of the day, and will have no problem falling asleep at his appointed bedtime.  But it is the ubiquity of coffee that even makes me think about it at all.  If anything, I am prone to looking at all things meta, and it stands to reason that I should have a little more respect for something I do reflexively.  At the very least, I’d like to exert a little control over enjoying a prolonged abstinence, just for the mere exercise of doing so.

This is not my first time with forcing myself to avoid the vices I love.  When I was a smoker, I would quit cigarettes for a week at a time, sometimes a month or more, to convince myself that I was “in control” of my habit.  I gave up drinking for a year, and again for six months, and anymore drink infrequently, and with a much lower tolerance than I ever did.  “I’ve quit so many times, I forgot how to begin.” (Oswald 5-0)  Quitting was something I was good at.

But with coffee, it has never been something I didn’t want, or even considered quitting.  No part of me ever questioned if I would make coffee tomorrow or not.  I just would, and there was no reflection or consideration of feeling of doing something I shouldn’t.  And I loved coffee, so this worked out.  Coffee is pretty amazing, too, so that seemed like a good thing all around.  But when I was sick last week, I remember trying a cup of coffee, having it hit me, and thinking, “I don’t want this.”

And I’ve never thought that before.  About coffee, anyway.

These kinds of feelings are so rare, and so infrequently telegraphed with such clarity, that I felt like I needed to follow this impulse, wherever it was taking me.  I should repeat: I don’t think you should quit coffee.  I think about it a lot, and I really struggled this morning to merely make some hot herbal tea, instead of a pot of coffee.  This is not a road that you should go down, just because I do.  But I have never felt something so strongly as when I drank that first cup of coffee after feeling sick: my body is not interested in this right now.  So for the time being, I will follow this “gut feeling.”

I am not one to worry about health concerns, and I wouldn’t even begin to make the claim that coffee is bad for you.  (I’ve heard a lot of claims that there are relatively few side effects of coffee diets, too.)  So please don’t think that I’m doing this for some high and mighty health-specific reason.  I’m just quitting coffee for now, to see what happens.  I don’t think I’m going to achieve some great effect, and the only real impact I can see will be budgetary.  (Coffee is expensive.)  I would had to create the impression that I know something you don’t, or that I was operating under some understanding of medical literature that I was not sharing.  I just didn’t feel like drinking coffee for a while.

I understand that this is not the norm, and like when I quit smoking, it might not even make sense.  But as I get older, I’m more and more comfortable with doing “a lot of things that don’t make sense.”  (Devo.)  There are so few things that I can do as a 40 year or man to get the trill of being a rebel, and it has come to my attention that when you tell your friends that you are giving up coffee, it is often read as a huge upraised middle finger to all that is holy in the world of correct-thinking humans.

This, perhaps, is slightly motivating me, yes.  It would be hard to deny it.  But also: my body is calling out to me for a change, and I think I’m finally old enough to answer that call, and take it seriously.  Maybe, in the end, I’ll laugh about all of this over a cup of coffee as we catch up?

Facebook Post: 2022-11-25T07:21:37

This is one of the few things that is keeping me sane lately: a podcast that I only recently got on board with, Election Profit Makers. It is hosted by three NPR folks: John Kimball, a numbers nerd with a history in tech, Starlee Kine (a very insightful writer and broadcaster with a long history of doing stories for This American Life), and David Rees (who’s career is so strange and so odd that to offhandedly mention that he just recently began making experimental music is only one of the incredible things about him). The premise for the show is that they want to talk about current politics and current stories out in the world… filtered through Election Related Prediction Markets.

How to explain what this is? John Kimball has a long history with making nerdy kinds of money through number crunching, and then investing in speculative markets. These days, there’s a market for everything, and by using a website – predictit dot org – they examine the various markets that are popping up surrounding current elections, and then use that to talk about what’s happening in that election. It’s… a funny?… podcast. But also, they examine their own interests, too. David is constantly talking about his interest in music, film, and the TV shows and stuff that he’s working on. John, meanwhile, slips in a College Football reference whenever he can. It’s almost like they shouldn’t have anything to say to each other… except that they are very passionate about looking small elections in remote parts of the country, and hoping that they turn out okay.

I’ve been following David Rees since his Pencil Sharpening book was published many years ago, and his TV show – Going Deep with David Rees – was one that Marla and I loved watching together. So hearing him make his way into the podcast world has been a fun journey to follow, too. However, it wasn’t until he told one particular story on one of his shows that I really felt like I had more than just a casual interest in his work.

He tells one story, about how he fell into making and performing experimental music as an older person who used to play more conventional rock music as a younger person. Not only did it sound almost FAR too much like my own story, but over the years he’s talked a number of times about experimental music, and he’s incredibly knowledgeable about both the artists, and how to make your own gear. (He went into full circuit-bending mode as an artist, too, which I love.)

My own story is not precisely the same. I played in a punk band in the 90’s, that left me feeling like I was a “rock and roll” musician growing up, only to find, through years in radio, that my interest in music is more on the experimental side of things. And then again, through hosting experimental bands on my show, I realized that my show could be experimental in the same way… and then that I could do a version of my show in front of audiences, too.

Like I said, not precisely the same, but both of us, as older people, who used to make more normal sounds and now make much more strange sounds, discovered their love and interest in this only as they got older. That, and our love of “Escape From New York” has certainly sealed the deal, in terms of how much of a fan I am.

Anyway… listen to these folks talk about politics and laugh or something. It’s a small source of hope these days.
https://epm.fireside.fm/

Facebook Post: 2022-11-24T19:39:18

Monday, November, 19th, 1973: The BC animated Special, “The First Thanksgiving,” with TV bumpers and commercials. The follow-up is the first Flip Wilson animated special, “Clerow Wilson and the Miracle of P.S. 14.” Not precisely holiday themed, but Flip’s sense of humor and style is something you didn’t see much on TV then, and is a breath of fresh air.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-24T18:36:36

Nickelodeon was, for me, the gold standard of kids entertainment, and I longed for it when we didn’t have cable. The times I saw it at my grandparents house, or at a friends house, only reinforced my desire to watch it. While their programming, by the time I got to watch it regularly, was a little more tame than I wanted, and I was rapidly aging out of this material being able to hold my interest, this era of Nick programming certainly holds a place on my heart.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-24T13:41:08

Trying to reverse bad habits: I am grateful for Marla making my life better, The Boys for being the best cats ever, The Book Bin for making Salem better, Sheena’s Jungle Room on WFMU! for offering me a radio community that really gets what I do, and all my radio and internet friends who make music and art in remote places and occasionally pop in to say, “How you doin’?”

You are all amazing.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-24T08:08:30

Looking for some good holiday programming for you and yours today? Why not enjoy, “Thanksgiving In The Mid-Valley.” 15 different Thanksgiving programs, deep from the Mutated Archives. Live Performances, experimental DJ sets, Food-Themed Shows, Old Time Radio Re-Broadcasts, stories and holiday music, and PLENTY of leftovers. It’s not quite Christmas, so you won’t hear any of that… but we take you everywhere else we can, all on the radio.

Who says there aren’t any Thanksgiving Carols? We do our best to prove everyone wrong.

bit.ly/ThanksgivingInTheMidValley.

Enjoy!

Facebook Post: 2022-11-23T18:28:16

There have been three Munsters TV Series, and SIX Munsters movies, including the new one that Rob Zombie made.

The first two Munsters TV Series are, technically, part of the same continuity. The second series – which aired from 1988 to 1991 – actually produced more episodes than the original series. “The Musters Today,” suggested that, at the end of the 60’s series, the entire family go to sleep, and wake up in the late 80’s, continuing their adventures (with a brand new cast).

A third Munsters TV Series was produced in 2012. This was a “gritty” modern reboot, not part of the continuity of the original series, and was canceled after one episode. Because we needed a not-funny, scary version of the Munsters? This series was called, “Mockingbird Lane,” which is probably why it failed to connect with any Munsters fans. You know. Because it didn’t turn up when you search for “Munsters.”

Of the six Munsters films, three of them are supposedly follow-ups to the 60’s TV series, but if true, would mean the second TV series is NOT in continuity. All three of these have Al Lewis, but only one of them – “Munsters, Go Home!” from 1966 – has the full original cast. One of these three films is animated, too.

Two Munsters movies were made in the late 90’s, both with completely different casts, though both theoretically a continuation of the original 60’s series, but not connected to the other properties. One of them is a Christmas movie, even.

Rob Zombie’s Munster’s film is supposedly a prequel to the original 60’s TV show, but again, sort of out of continuity entirely, suggesting the idea that a new Munsters TV series could come from this film… if we are somehow so unlucky.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-23T16:37:32

I grew up in an era where two things were true: First, that the world has been told that JFK had been assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, and Second, that it was widely accepted that this fact was probably not true.

In the pre-internet world of the 80’s, “Conspiracy Theories” were not the domain of QAnon weirdos, but were a hobby of certain kinds of nerds and oddballs who were often very curious and distrustful of powerful organizations. “The X-Files” paints these kinds of folks as three of the smartest people available in the world of intel. (And the group was even named after a reference to the Kennedy Assassination.)

But it didn’t stop there. Comedy and TV was full of references to the conspiracy; Bill Hicks had whole comedy routines about the Conspiracy, and certainly, it was almost folk wisdom when I was a pre-teen.

I spent a good amount of time, in the years before the internet, reading books about the Assassination, and was convinced, for most of my life, that I understood that the world was not telling everyone the truth, and that knowing about this assassination was akin to knowing a secret about how the world worked.

I started college in 2004, and since then we’ve all had access to the modern internet, as we now known it. And it wasn’t much later that I stopped hearing any credible information regarding the conspiracy to murder JFK from the internet, and instead, saw the world of conspiracy hobbyists transform into the modern horror-show that is most of the darker corners of the internet.

These days, I don’t think much about who killed Kennedy. So much so that I completely missed the anniversary of it happening, yesterday, something that I would have usually made note of, as a younger man.

Have I put away childish things? Has the truth gone through another transformation? Or do I even care about a stupid president that died before my time, when the world has so many more horrors happening, here and now?

Facebook Post: 2022-11-23T12:32:04

I feel very disconnected from Salem. I get messages from people all over the world about the work I do. But finding a local connection and a community in this city just hasn’t happened. Experimental music and film doesn’t have a place in Salem anymore, and more and more public places in town are too conservative for anything too strange. And with Covid Caution seriously hindering my ability to do anything indoors, I feel particularly distant from anything in this city. Salem isn’t very inviting to anything that doesn’t instantly turn a profit, and doesn’t seem to have any plans to try and include people who are At Risk in the things that do happen.

It makes me very sad to see this town be so milquetoast and boring, bordering on hostile toward those who aren’t “normal.”

Facebook Post: 2022-11-23T07:38:51

35 years ago, last night…

The Story.

Chicago broadcasting has long since been an important backbone of US Radio & Television, as it was often the source of most programming for the midwest. (WGN itself made the leap from independent TV Broadcaster to Cable Channel fairly early, and continues to straddle those two functions in media, to the confusion of kids like me in Oregon who did not understand any of the Chicago references that were often part of their local shows.)

So, picture, if you will: it was a Sunday, at around 9 PM CST on 22 November, 1987. Like most average Sunday nights on TV, there wasn’t exactly a wide range of programs to watch, so if you were at home, bored, and flipping channels, you would probably consider catching, “The Nine O’Clock News,” which began broadcasting on WGN-TV. Sounds good. You like the Bears, right? Make some more popcorn and dig in. Maybe you’ll catch “Dr. Who” later on PBS after you catch the scores.

Around the 15 minute mark, as they did most every night, the sports segment kicks in. However, a few seconds into the segment, the screen goes black for 15 seconds. The crew at WGN go into a panic. They can’t understand what is happening. Techs behind the scenes are furiously trying to find out out what happened to the signal. Then, for another 15 seconds, the image of a man dressed in a Max Headroom halloween costume is swaying back and forth in front of a piece of corrugated metal. The entire time, some garbled, buzzing sound accompanies the image. Whatever Max was saying, we can’t hear it. What was happening?

After almost 30 seconds of this, WGN finally gets control of the signal again, and returns things to normal. The camera returns to the sports anchor, somewhat confused. “Looks like the computer took off and went wild.” Then, restarts his coverage of the Chicago Bears, as if nothing had happened.

You can see the whole thing in this clip. https://youtu.be/dKnwhokvgxE. Dan Roan seems pretty unflappable afterwards, as if nothing had happened. And, his insight into what might have happened, seems spot on: Max got into the computer, and took over, clearly. But viewers at home are sort of in shock. “Did you see that? What was that?” No one outside of Headroom fans really knows what just happened. Not for sure. 



While it’s hard to say for sure how many Max fans were tuned in at that moment, what was clearly confusing and frustrating for almost everyone else was probably one of the funniest jokes in the world to those few fans watching the news. I can only imagine the gears turning, as they watched this footage live, and pieced together that someone has broken into the signal – a la Max Himself, and dressed like him – for a 30 second joke that only a few people would get.

Had I seen this live, I probably would have lost my mind.

And the night isn’t even over!

After surfing around a bit between 10 PM and 11 PM, you decide to catch the “Dr. Who” serial that they were re-running on the PBS affiliate, WTTW, after all. You’ve seen this Dr. Who episode before, but it has some good bits, if you remember correctly. Why not? After the hilarious Headroom bit on the news, you’re sort of in the mood for something fun anyway, and there’s nothing else on remotely like that, so you settle in with the familiar theme music, and the antics of Tom Baker. He’s sort of mischievous, like Max, in a way. You’re in a good mood.

Everything unfolds as normal, until around the 20 minute mark. (20 minutes into the… episode, as it were?) Suddenly, the signal at WTTW cuts to the same person in the same Halloween costume from WGN., dressed up like Max Headroom. But this time, there’s audio, where it was garbled before. Not super clear audio, to be sure. But you can hear this person… in a distorted sort of way that is clear enough to understand, but not clear enough to identify. For the next 90 seconds you get to see this person, as Max, have his way with the broadcast signal. And it is a strange and surreal 90 seconds, to be sure… and comparable to the kinds of things that we’ve all seen Max do with Network 23.

While this version of Max is much “cruder” than the version we’ve seen on TV, the comparisons are too perfect to be an accident. Running through a litany of pop-culture references and round-about commentaries on what is happening with Max’s show on ABC, this character mangles the product placement bit (holds up a Pepsi can but says the Coke catch phrase), insults WGN anchor Chuck Swirksy all while offering a middle finger inside what appears to be a hallowed-out dildo (ahem, “F-You” in more ways than one, at it were), before the Max character feigns defecation, as if to say this intrusion was similar to taking a dump on broadcast TV.

While there’s more with the Max mask, the dildo, a flyswatter, and a bare butt (all suggesting that the person behind this intrusion knows he may well get caught and punished, which is part of the “fun” in an S&M sort of way), to me, the bit that sticks out is when Max sings a snippet of “(I Know) I’m Losing You,” and then hums the “Clutch Cargo” theme while saying, “I still see the X!” It’s an interesting juxtaposition, but not at all unlike the kinds of things that Max had done on his ABC show, too. (Though, a much more PG version, thereof.).

You can watch all 90 seconds of these antics here: https://youtu.be/oqgeM6rWSkw. And for the amount of bang-for-your-buck, I can’t recommend it highly enough. In a world where TV is so buttoned-down, and genuine live TV is just not possible the way it used to be, to see this kind of insanity of television is absolutely priceless.

However, it might ONLY seem like nonsense, without a little unpacking. In fact, the person behind the intrusion really seemed to be making a pretty strange and funny commentary on what happened to Max Headroom’s show.

Some Analysis.

“(I Know) I’m Losing You” is a typical love song, recorded by The Temptations in 1966, and it became a big hit, and was fairly well known throughout the late 60’s. Anyone who was a child then, including a lot of people who were watching Max Headroom at the time, probably grew up with this song. Lyrically, it describes a love that’s fading, or rather, the singer is still in love, but the object of affection is fading away, never to return. Sort of like the canceled TV show, Max Headroom. You can hear the song here: https://youtu.be/LWr_F4Gg8sY.

The “Clutch Cargo” reference is a little more obtuse. While the theme music is unmistakable being “intoned” by Max, when he says, “I still see the X,” it isn’t exactly a line from the program, but rather a reference to seeing the last episode of “Clutch Cargo,” titled “Big ‘X’.” (You can watch the entire episode here: https://youtu.be/-YpWXUaHDQ0.)

“Big ‘X’” was the last serial made by what could almost be described as a minimalist cartoon. Every possible corner was cut to make “Clutch Cargo” as cheaply as possible, using a technology from the early 50’s, to super-impose the lips of human actors over animation that was barely moving. Minimal music and cheap voice talent completed the package, and using this cheapness, the show was able to crank out 52 20 minute “serials” in one year. 

A serial in “Clutch Cargo” terms was a five part story, each part four minutes long, with short intro and outro credits for each part. Given that you could run a serial every week, and had content to fill a whole year before you had to repeat, “Clutch Cargo” became a hit, and ran for years in syndication.

Max’s reference to “Clutch Cargo” seems to operate on three levels. “I still see the X” could mean that “Clutch Cargo” is still in syndication, which might be a dig at how “behind the times” Chicago stations are. (In other words: the reason I can hack this signal is because you are all so old-fashioned that “I still see the X.” And who wouldn’t feel the burn of realizing that you air content from the late 50’s in the late 80’s, or that your gear is probably vulnerable because it hasn’t been updated… just like your programming.)

However, Max could also be making a sly reference to the fact that, yes, “I still see the X,” because he has made his own copy. In the late 80’s, the suggestion that viewers were recording TV broadcasts was making a lot of executives wary. Broadcasters were often against the sale of home video equipment, the very equipment that our hacker was probably using to interrupt the signal. To claim that Max can still see The X might be a hint at the home video reality that broadcasting seems to forget as they want to keep technology proprietary, something that is suggested in the “edit” that our hacker willingly shows when he cuts from the “talking head” angle to the “getting spanked” angle. (The edit seems to have been done on a VCR, in the same way that Max is still able to “see the X.”)

In yet a third interpretation, “I still see the X,” also seems to suggest the unfinished nature of “Max Headroom.” While “Big ‘X’” is the last episode of “Clutch Cargo,” the narrator (at the end) suggests that you should tune in next week, to see another adventure with “Clutch Cargo.” And, yet, we know that “Big ‘X’” is the last adventure. There is a promise that cannot be met, made in that final episode; there are no “new” adventures coming next week.



This is also the case for ABC’s “Max Headroom.” At the time of the signal intrusion, “Max Headroom” had been off the air for about a month, and while there had been promise of another episode at the end of “Whackets” that was coming next week, there hadn’t been a new episode of “Max Headroom” for weeks now. Just like in “Big X,” the narrator promised one thing, but instead, we’re left with nothing to fulfill that promise. “I still see the X” might be Max’s awareness of what’s really going on: Headroom is never coming back.

While it is impossible to know what the references are specifically getting at, we don’t really get a lot of time to think about them when we’re watching. As mentioned earlier, the intrusion is only about 90 seconds long, total. While our time with this version of Max is brief, we get the impression that there was more that could have been said, but that Max “had to go.” Soon, “Dr. Who” is back on the air, and for those who were still watching at that point, holy cow, that’s a lot to chew on while Tom Baker goes back to being charming.

What can we make of all of this?

While the identity of the person who did this has remained a mystery for the last 35 years, we can infer a few things from context clues related to the intrusion. We can safely infer that the material we saw in the WTTW intrusion was probably intended for WGN. Several jokes and references are directed at WGN, and would make more sense having been aired on that station. Since the WGN intrusion did not contain audio – and since the WGN intrusion was probably MUCH harder to do than the one at a small PBS affiliate station like WTTW – it seems to this viewer that Max tried WGN, the primary target, wasn’t completely successful, regrouped, found that they could get through to WTTW, and decided to continue the intrusion as planned on WTTW.

Next, we can also infer that what we saw was a recording, being aired / broken into the live broadcast signal, being played back for us in real time. We know this from the “VHS” editing in the middle of the intrusion. While I like the idea that this was all live, the VHS edit betrays that idea. (The two scenes spliced together have very different staging and contextually suggest they were filmed at different times.) This makes the intrusion somewhat easier to pull off: rather than having live cameras sending a single, it is merely a VCR sending one.

I think we can also safely infer that the person responsible probably knew something about, or worked in, Chicago area broadcasting. (Many others have suggested this, so I don’t think this is much of a deduction, really.) Still, we have a few clues there suggesting the Chicago Broadcasting Insider angle: Max makes several comments that seem to reference local Chicago media and personalities that an outsider (to both broadcasting and to Chicago) wouldn’t know. And, the person behind the intrusion was skilled enough to break into two different broadcast signals at two different stations in the same night, suggesting a familiarity with the ways a signal could be sent at more than one station, with different protocol for each location. While you cold probably do these things another way, it seems like an insider is a more likely scenario.

We can also infer that the person responsible is a TV nerd, and knows Max Headroom as well as the local broadcasting scene. The way Max intrudes, and the way Max behaves, suggests the culprit knows the show very well, and seems upset that the show is gone. And given that the kids in the episode of Max Headroom titled “Academy” do essentially the same thing to Network 23, other fans of the show would take this to mean that the culprit performing the intrusion was also “showing off” more than anything else. “Look what I can do?”

What Does It All mean?

I prefer not to know the identity of the person who did this. People have claimed they know, or that it’s of a supernatural nature. There was a period where Reddit swore they had figured it out, only to be VERY wrong in the end, having to apologize for the accusation.

Humorously, if the person responsible wanted to out themselves, there would be no legal repercussions in 2021. The FCC did suggest that they would fine the party responsible $100,000 in 1987. But the statute of limitations on that fine was five years from 1987, and since the investigators could not prove conclusively who (if anyone) did it, the fine was never issued.

To complicate matters further, this incident was considered “rumor” for decades, and no evidence of the intrusion was publicly available for review. In the pre-digital era of home-video taping, it was easy enough for TV Networks to try and pretend the event was nothing to worry about, and finding tapes of the intrusion was not easy for many years.

The point being, with so much time having passed, and with so many differences in the way that broadcasting works in the modern era, there are no laws that could currently punish the person who was responsible. And yet, no one has claimed responsibility (who then didn’t turn out to be a crackpot).

From that alone we can infer one of two other things: either the person responsible has passed on, or they are keeping quiet for another reason entirely. And it makes sense that, if it was a bit of a flex to do it in 1987, then to keep it a secret all this time, it also stands to reason that it would be even more of a flex to never take credit for it. (“I could become the most famous hacker in the world by revealing that it was me… or I can just keep it a mystery, and die a legend.”)

You can see why, once this intrusion happens, no person in legitimate broadcasting would want to have anything to do with Max Headroom ever again, and how this could possibly lead to any content relating to Max quickly becoming a “hot potato” for networks or production companies that might what to keep Max Headroom going. While no one has been able to connect the dots between this intrusion and any actual cited reason ABC didn’t bring back Max’s show, it seems obvious to me that there would be no reason to try and risk a genuine Max “intrusion” by having anything to do with the property after something like this has happened. (How could viewers tell real Max from fake if this kept happening? Best to keep Max off the air entirely, and then every new appearance is the fraud.) Considering that Max actually advertised his own show on ABC by “breaking” into commercials to advertise himself, it would seem to be a dangerous standard to set if you didn’t take action, and just ban Max outright.

ABC still had three further Headroom episodes in the can that they could burn off on some night when their programming was thin, a very common practice in those days, and in spite of the signal intrusion, and how quickly Max was getting negative press, they decided to give it a shot. The following Spring, with little fanfare and no advertising, they aired two of the three remaining episodes, at first suggesting that the should would return. However, after the second of three aired, nothing further ever materialize on screen. Clearly, people who never looked closely at what was being said the the Max Headroom program were finally looking at it, and all of the anti-television story elements were almost as bad as the signal intrusion.

With Max no longer on TV, but with a lot of steam still behind the character and the concept, everyone behind Max quickly tried to mount a movie project, “Max Headroom For President,” to hopefully come out in time to catch some of the heat that the ’88 election was building to. However, it became clear that, even with Coke ads still on the air, and with the public still loving and wanting more Max, that the folks in entertainment were very nervous of a character that might burst into your TV channel and show some S&M imagery between commercials.

Worse still, Coke had “poured” so much money into the character of Max that they wouldn’t give up without a fight, in-spite of how quickly channels were pulling Max from the air. Other stations that were not ABC were already wary of showing Max Headroom Coke Ads while ABC had a Max Headroom TV show, essentially meaning that other networks were advertising an ABC show every time they ran a Coke ad. But once ABC gave up on the character, the other networks were even more sheepish. Fortunately, the energy that went into the “Max For President” movie was transferred into a final series of Ads featuring Max and… Run DMC? And Max was running for Office… and you were voting through your Coke purchase. Yeah, it didn’t really make sense, then or now, which made the ads easier to pull, too. For an ad campaign where Ridley Scott himself directly a number of the spots, to flame out so dramatically like that is a real pity.

Other Thoughts.

In the modern era, I can only imagine the legend that has grown out of the way this intrusion is being circulated on YouTube. This intrusion incident is probably what Max is known for among younger circles, and I could also see how they would be uninterested in Max as a property, if that’s the kind of thing he’s connected to. If Max inhabits the same space as “Slenderman,” it might not be that appealing to youth culture, as a new TV show, anyway. (Though with a new show theoretically coming… who can say?)

Anyway, this is my round-about way of saying: while I find this incident interesting, I find its connection to Max more interesting than the “mystery” that seems compelling to modern viewers. There’s not really a lot of mystery to what happened, when I think about it: someone very funny, with the technical know-how, was bored on a Sunday night, and wanted to blow off some steam regarding how ridiculous broadcast can be. We’ve all been there, right? If you could hijack a TV signal, wouldn’t you want it to be a pretty wild joke that only you and your friends would get?

Facebook Post: 2022-11-22T17:33:33

Holy Cats. It’s November 22nd already? How in the holy fuck did that happen? This year is just zipping by, and now that we are already preparing pies and planning our holiday viewing, some people have ALREADY started in with the seasonal music.

However, rather than switch over entirely to the XMas noise, we have something that you can dole out slowly over the next several weeks. While you’re digging out all the pie decorations and Turkey Carol LPs, this is the perfect time to bust out one of the more popular podcasts I’ve produced: “Holiday Memories.”

If you direct your browser to http://midvalleymutations.com/…/holiday…/thanksgiving/, you will find our Thanksgiving Broadcasts, a simple gift from The Lava Lamp Lounge, to you.

For almost 25 years now, I’ve been making radio, and when the calendar turns to this time of year, invariably, I churn out some holiday sounds. It took me a while, if I’m honest; my first few entries into the “holiday music” radio was often ironic. But this far into my career, the changing of the seasons seems sort of important. If you don’t mark them in some way, then you enter a sort of radio hypnosis, where all time feels more or less the same.

We have Thanksgiving Shows. We have Christmas Shows. We have shows that only sort of mention those holidays, but were broadcast around that time of year! And we even have New Year’s Shows, for people who can’t let a good thing rest, and want to party a little bit longer. With over 90 different shows spanning 25 years, there’s bound to be something you might enjoy.

There should be some new Holiday content coming your way, beginning with our Dimestore Radio Theater Thanksgiving show from last night. So subscribe to our “Holiday Memories” feed, and get ready for the most radio time of the years.

https://austinrich.org/holiday-memories/
https://austinrich.org/holiday-memories/

Facebook Post: 2022-11-22T12:25:17

Look, we get it. It’s been a hell of a year, the holidays are around the corner, you have pies to bake and you still need to go to work… it never ends. So, we understand that this time of year, you are turning to any and all Sleep Aids that you can find out there, to help you reach deep, restful sleep. Seriously, a liquid, pills, anything. I just need to sleep!

So, we recommend that you try Mid-Valley Mutations, beginning today at 6 PM PST / 9 PM EST. It is the only way to get 100% Safe Sleep. Tune in for music, cut-ups, and other sleepy sounds, as we try to find a way to help everyone relax… for a couple hours, anyway. We’ll have a live, interactive chat going, too. Join us! It’s the only thing to do when you can’t sleep.

https://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/120865

#AudioAidToSoundSlumber #MidValleyMutations #Collage #SheenasJungleRoom #WFMU #FreeformRadio #SoTired

Facebook Post: 2022-11-21T22:17:55

I’ve tried to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation from the beginning a few times as an adult, and I could never get very far into the first season.

I watched the show religiously as a kid, from the first episode. My family watched the premiere together, and I’d been looking forward to it, having seen enough classic Trek and other Sci-Fi to consider myself exactly that kind of nerd. And while I watched as many episodes as possible when I could, I never saw it all.

I decided this time to watch a handful of Season 1 and 2 episodes that I recalled liking, and then start with Season 3 from the beginning. This is so much more enjoyable so far, and I’m seeing stories I didn’t remember intermixed with old favorites in a delightful way.

This was what I always wanted from rewatching episodes of TNG. Getting burned out on the less-than-good stories in the first two seasons was completely understandable, with hindsight.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-21T21:38:12

I never realized how deeply funny and beautiful the, “Déjà Q,” episode of TNG is. I probably haven’t seen this one in years… maybe since the 90’s. It certainly feels a little different, as an adult. I think the jokes hit harder, the observations more sharp.

I’ve lived my entire life with Star Trek. But even this late into the game there’s something I can learn from this… limited… TV show.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-21T14:04:17

With Thanksgiving mere DAYS away, it seems like Dimestore Radio Theater should take a little time out of our busy schedule, to offer you some holiday stories that will be perfect for any kind of gathering you have, later this week. (Or, if you need to duck out for a couple ours, and need a good excuse.) So we have TWO HOURS of Thanksgiving stories and tales, building to a dramatic, screaming finish that you won’t want to miss! It’s Detectives, Ripley’s Believe it… Or Not?, Suspense and… Robert Krulwich? Plus we conclude our conversation with Obadiah Baird regarding the Golden Age of Science Fiction. It’s a radio smorgasbord on Sheena’s Jungle Room on WFMU!, and it all starts at 6 PM PST / 9 PM EST. Join us in the live, interactive chat! It’s Monday, and we’re all depressed… why not get away from it all, and hang out with us? See ya then…

https://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/121871

Facebook Post: 2022-11-19T19:58:18

There are eight movies now that feature the characters Jean Shepherd created, who are the most well known in the 1983 film, “A Christmas Story.” The earliest of these films was made in 1976. Half of them are not set at Christmas. Two are credited as direct sequels to the 1983 film. Another with none of the same cast more directly follows the events of the 1983 film, but isn’t a sequel.

Almost all of them do not acknowledge the other films, with the exception of the newest one. Two films re-use the “leg lamp” scene, even. And, apparently, almost none of them are as good as the 1983 version.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-19T17:53:15

Trying to reverse bad habits: One of our pandemic projects has been for Marla to get me caught up on Drag Race. We are nearly caught up on regular Drag Race, one season behind in All Stars, and I might have one more season of UK to catch up on. (I think we’re close on being caught up on Canada, too?)

I would probably never watch this show if I was making my own choices, not because it’s a bad show, but I prefer less drama, fewer hash tags, more time travel, and more ghost’s piloting the spaceship in a nightmare directed by John Carpenter. That’s just my style, and while I don’t regret or find anything in Drag Race that I didn’t like, competitive reality shows are just not my bag.

Still, there is a heart a soul at the center of Drag Race that is all about representation and moving forward in life… and the show is decidedly far-left, politically, which is really important these days.

I’ll be excited when we are completely caught up. It might be nice to watch something else from time to time.

#DragRace #TVShows #TryingToBeUpbeat #TeamWillowPill

Facebook Post: 2022-11-19T15:27:21

Trying to reverse bad habits: I wrote and recorded six new songs recently, described by one listener as, “electro-punk.” This is ostensibly for the The Eleven-SixtyFours, though I never realized they were “electro-punk.” (Who knew?)

They are all “in progress.” (Still working on them.) But if you wanna offer some friendly input, I’ll happily share them with you.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-17T18:07:06

Marla went to a doctor’s appointment on Monday, and didn’t come home until earlier today. After two procedures, being rid of a useless gallbladder, and finally negotiating the prescriptions and errands and hospital visits… I’m now on the other side of all of this, and feel like I feel into a void, and lost several days.

Marla is now home, and on the mend. She’ll be fine with time and medication. But the lost sleep and confusion I’ve been though the last few days feels like it will be with me for a while. I don’t deal well with hospitals; I’m not sure why. In my own life, I haven’t had to spend lots of time in hospitals. Aside from my brother Kyle, who was in the hospital for a long time while fighting leukemia, and very short stints by other family members, I haven’t had to deal much with hospitals. They are certainly a massive need in our world, but I feel very uncomfortable about being in them.

Apparently, the house is clean, and I wrote a couple songs, but aside from the evidence of the last few days… who knows how it really passed. To me, it was just an empty void, where Marla was supposed to be, and wasn’t.

Hopefully I will sleep well tonight.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-15T16:02:53

It’s been a whirlwind couple of days, with all manner of difficulties at home and in the world. I’m almost stretched as thin as can be… and yet… the radio music go on. Tune in for part two of our two-part story of the zer0-G Mice, until recently, the seven galaxies most popular musical act. Last week we got to learn about their humble beginnings. Now, get the rest of the story. It’s the sci-fi musical comedy that’s as fun to parse as it is to describe! Live audience participation is happening at the link before. One of the mice will be in the chat!

https://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/121678

#zerogmice #FourthSundayPlayers #SciFiComedy #SpaceJams #LiveExperimentalMusic

Facebook Post: 2022-11-14T15:12:09

Today, on Dimestore Radio Theater: we offer the final installment of “The Voyage of The Scarlet Queen,” a show we’ve been listening to since January, and since the beginning of this show on WFMU. We hear that story, and our regular assortment of Dimestore offerings, including an excellent Box 13 and Dimension X. Join us for Old Time Radio on your new fangled device. Today, at 6 PM PST / 9 PM EST. There will be a live, interactive chat, too. This is one of the few bright spots in week, and I would love to have a chance to spend it with you.

https://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/121642

#BoxThirteen #VoyageofTheScarletQueen #ChanduTheMagician #DimensionX

Facebook Post: 2022-11-13T19:02:36

Playing catchup is fun, and with that, here’s the much-awaited sequel to last year’s horror-noise epic, IVO SALIENTIA, a new postcard that explores even further into this creepy and crawly soundscape that is essential listening as the year slimes down to a close.

IVO SALIENTIA is the collaboration between Deejay Embryonicpetitsac and Mini-Mutations, and our work together has led to some pretty excellent and strange sounds. Sac is one of the most unique performers that I know of, and a chance to work with them has been pretty exciting. What better way to put a final nail in the coffin of “creepy season” than with another musical postcard, from us, to you?

This one should arrive not too long after the one I just sent out, for mailing list members. Lemonade Stand supporters will get some cool bonus tracks, too… and if you are not on the mailing list or a supporter, and would like to get one… let me know. These musical postcards of one of my big passions, and I love sharing this work with other people.

So: if horror-noise samplings, strange collaborations, and something creepy this ways crawls is your cup of tea… then you need this postcard.

#LePetitSac #MiniMutations #MusicalPostcards #HorrorNoise #Experimental #LateOctober #CatchingUp

Facebook Post: 2022-11-13T16:21:37

I’m looking for an online “workout buddy.” I’ve been having a hard time sticking with my bike routine, and while I know it is good for me, and I know it will help in almost all the places that I’m having a hard time, I just can’t seem to stay on the bike for very long. I got 30 minutes in today, which is better than usual. But I think if I had a partner in crime, we could help keep each other motivated, and on task. At least: we’d have to answer to each other when we miss a day.

I’ve hated most other forms of working out, save for biking and yoga. (And I’m really bad at the later one.) Biking feels like an exercise and doesn’t feel completely boring or something I dread. Maybe you wanna be my biking partner? We could motivate each other online somehow? 

Start a, “Biking Buddy Bunker” online somewhere, where we can chat and motivate each other? I hate most gym culture stuff and I’m not looking for real workout stuff. Just someone who’s also a little awkward and has

Maybe it’s a silly idea. Just trying to figure out how to stay on the bike and not dread it.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-11T10:16:54

I’m anti-government, anti-military, and very much anti-American involvement in combat and war. But I’m pro veteran. Here’s my great grandfather and my grandfather, who were both vets, but both people who were never defined by military service, to me, anyway. (I had no idea my grandfather served for most of my childhood.)

There’s nothing good about the armed forces, or what they stand for. But Socrates was a vet, and many of the most vocal anti-war people come from the military.

Happy Veteran’s Day. Bummer we have it as a holiday.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-11T09:39:40

One of my most recent “performance videos” I made this year heavily featured Kevin Conroy’s voice, in the character of Batman. I love his portrayal of the character, and in my head, Batman sounds like him. I watched this cartoon endlessly when it was on, and with my niece, who loves Batman, too.

This piece is one of the more well-received videos I’ve made, and it even has dance segments.

I’m not sure how he would have felt about this. But I hope he doesn’t mind too much, and can find it in him to groove one last time.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-10T21:08:51

Trying to come to terms with not being able to see or play shows again. I feel like someone cut off both my arms. I know this sounds like so much hot air to most people, but it really deeply pains me. Most of my adult life has been spent caring about or going to see shows. To be in a position where it is off limits – and it’s not off limits to nearly everyone else – feels like the world has betrayed me in a very personal way. Trying to find a way forward is both incredibly hard and very likely one without a thing I care about tremendously.

I’m so angry with the world for leaving us behind, and how many people are completely comfortable to move forward without us, as if the world hasn’t changed in a deeply, deeply disturbing way.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-10T13:32:02

After many delays (and a little reverb), the newest musical postcard is now ready for you to enjoy! Three new Mini-Mutations compositions, only available via the mail. A dangerous trip to the moon! A instructive documentary on using Effects Pedals! (w/ David Rees and Jackie Kashian.) And a biographical journey into how it used to rain so much more in the past. It’s the Late September EP, with over 30 minutes of new tunes that will help ease you into the end of the year.

If you are on the mailing list, one is on the way to you. If you would like one, you should message me and you’ll get one in the mail. Simply scan the code, and your postcard will sing to you these new and exciting tunes. My gift, to you.

As the pandemic shifts into a stranger and more complicated phase, it is likely that I won’t be performing in front of audience again, save for under very extreme and rare circumstances, and if the show can be outdoors. With that in mind, video performances and these postcards are probably the only way that I will be able to make music for the time being. And making these postcards is not only incredibly satisfying, but has become one of my trademarks. (Thanks Dylan, for showing me the way!) It’s always fun to see where the muse takes me each time I work on one of these, and hopefully you are enjoying them to some degree, too. ��Anyway, thanks for dealing with me as I try to process the world around me, how to move forward, and how to make more postcards instead of complaints.

#MusicalPostcards #MiniMutations #LateSeptemberEP #SynthJams #CutUps #Drone

Facebook Post: 2022-11-09T19:24:00

From 1978 to 1981, In France, comic artist Norbert Fersen adapted the American TV cartoon “Jabberjaw” into a comic strip, under its French translated name “Mantalo,” and was featured in kids magazines all over France.

I’m so confused by how this even happened. When I think about France, the last thing I think of is their love of a talking shark playing drums in a future underwater civilization. And in a comic format the goofy music and voice impersonations are completely lost…

How did this happen?

Facebook Post: 2022-11-08T21:27:24

As a kid, I watched an animated TV show where robotic versions of The Three Stooges fought crime. None of the original Stooges were still alive when this show was made; Frank Welker plays Curley. And: the show originally aired when I was two, meaning as a 12 year old I was seeing these cartoons 10 years after they were made… and 30 to 40 years after The Stooges heyday.

Who exactly thought this cartoon was a good idea? And who was this show made for?

I’m… confused for myself as a youth. What part of me really responded to a cyberpunk Three Stooges as a kid?

Weird.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-08T15:11:45

Tonight, on Sheena’s Jungle Room on WFMU! and Mid-Valley Mutations! Certainly, the name “zer0-G Mice” is so well known that you hear their music almost everywhere you go, when you’re just trying to run a few errands out in public. But how did they become so mega-popular? Perhaps this radio presentation will give you the full story, so you will finally know, once and for all, how it all went down. Join Austin & univac (the writers and performers), with the help of their ground crew at UB RADIO SALON (Ninah & Das, assembling all the pieces), as we present the full story of the “zer0-G Mice.” As it originally happened! Join us in the chat, as we dispel rumors and myths, tell funny anecdotes, and generally: prepare you to float into space!

https://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/118349

#zerog-mice, #univac, #BigCityOrchestra #UBRadioSalon #Sci-FiComedy #ScriptedANDImprov, #SheenasJungleRoom, #MidValleyMutations #PartOneofTwo

Facebook Post: 2022-11-07T15:35:06

Today, on Dimestore Radio Theater: we return to ”business as usual” with new installments of our old favorites! Noir, adventure, sci-fi and more! Join us in the live, interactive chat! We have the stories you need to help you get through this dark days.

https://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/121428

#BoxThirteen #VoyageofTheScarletQueen #ChanduTheMagician #DimensionX

Facebook Post: 2022-11-06T11:56:00

I’ve been maintaining two music exchange groups since the beginning of 2020. Through these groups, I’ve released four compilation albums, featuring the best music that we recorded for those groups. One is for experimental artists. The other, as I call it, is for “less weird” music: rock & roll, punk, industrial, spoken word, singer songwriter. We even got a sketch comedy entry, and I keep hearing that someone will do a comedy album eventually. “Less weird” is code for “not experimental,” really.

We have some openings in our “less weird” group for 2023. A few people have moved on to other projects. With that in mind, I’m recruiting a few people who work as artists and might want to join.

The short version: you get 11 recordings in the mail from group members throughout the year, while working on your recordings, that you then send out during the remaining month. By the end of the year, our group has recorded 12 “releases” of some kind, a way to sort of measure the year and show off what you did.

Do you make music and / or recorded art of some kind, and would like to join our group? It’s one of the ways that we’re trying to help keep ourselves sane during the pandemic.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-02T18:59:34

How cool is this: quite a while ago, I got an order for this record from Mexico. I was tracking the package… but USPS showed the package cross the border… and disappear. I was worried that it wouldn’t arrive, I was about to message with apologies… and then I discovered that it arrived, safely! (I mean, I paid enough in shipping… it better have.)

While most everything else in the world is completely terrible, at least there’s cool people out there.

Enjoy the record! The Formaldehydra side is EXCELLENT!.

Facebook Post: 2022-11-01T16:11:00

Let’s be honest: we could all use more rain. Like, A LOT MORE. And with everything that went down for Halloween this year, I’m a little beat. So I’ve asked my friend and colleague Arvo Zylo to guest-host the show tonight, for a little “Radio Rain Dance,” as we try to make sense of this particular Day of The Dead. Audience participation is happening at the link below; a live, interactive chat, where you can hang out, join in the rain dance, and make your voice heard. Two hours of songs about rain. Join us… won’t you?

https://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/120423

Facebook Post: 2022-11-01T15:58:36

I occurred to me today: if I were to eliminate from my life everything that has to do with music, would I have much of a life afterwards? Most of my free time is spent getting ready for radio shows, or reading about and looking for new records. I know a lot of people through radio and music. But outside of that?

I only mention this because I’m starting to feel like I don’t have much of a life beyond my own interests in music. If that is off the table… do I have much of a life? I like books and comics and movies fine… but it is not as satisfying as music is to me.

Is there much to me, if that’s really the extent of my passions? All I have to do is interact with one or two people who don’t care about music, and suddenly I have nothing to contribute.

Let’s get really real: is there anything to me outside of my love for my family and very narrow & specific cultural expressions that I enjoy?

Is there much to me at all?

Facebook Post: 2022-10-31T21:13:27

Skelly served us well, sitting on the porch and dealing with the kids for us. We are not at our first rodeo, so we put out a little candy, then waited. Sure enough, at one point, some teens showed up and thought they cleaned us out. Instead, Skelly just put two more bags out, and waited for the next batch of kids. Thanks Skelly!

Facebook Post: 2022-10-31T06:47:20

Tonight on Dimestore Radio Theater: We’re all putting on costumes, grabbing some scripts, and performing, The Adventures of Marcus Little: Tall Tales & Small Rewards,” a supernatural radio noir.

Featuring Little Fyodor (David Lichtenverg) and Negativland’s The Weatherman, this story features ghosts, ghouls, a talking ape… and more detectives than you can shake a stick at. It’s the kind of story that is perfect for late night radio… and on a night like this, the ghostly twist is too perfect.

With other music, comedy and radio personalties filling out the other roles, original music and commercials, and a whole lot of heart, this show is the complete package. It’s been featured in the film work of Matt Orefice of Pecho Grande films, has been heard as a podcast in 2020, and has been syndicated on six different stations all over the US. Now, in a slightly different mix and presentation special for WFMU, you can get the full story yourself, tonight!

Tune in, at 6 PM PST / 9 PM EST, and hear the kinds of things that happen in the latest parts of the night.

Join us in the live chat! We’ve dimmed the lights, and put up the Venetian blinds.

https://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/120327

Facebook Post: 2022-10-30T20:20:33

Dealing with a “responsible anarchist” experimental musician all up in my DMs, trying to tell me I’m a fool for believing in science and thinking vaccines are helpful. He’s suspicious of science and government, says there’s no actual evidence that Covid is as bad as anyone says, and in spite of not being vaccinated, goes to work, plays shows, doesn’t mask… and then goes to bars afterwards for fun.

I’m dumbfounded, astonished… horrified, and… unfortunately… not surprised.

This keeps happening. People I’ve worked with, creatively, suddenly come out anti-vax. How am I such a bad judge of character? How do I keep getting conned?

Why am I so gullible?