• The Realist Archive Project launches a sequel: "The Other Scenes Inventory Report"

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series of unusual stories and commentary, paired with modular electronic sounds and noises — and, in this episode, rare archives of underground counterculture newspapers!

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. While this show is a podcast about electronics, it is also a sort of Audio Magazine where I share other projects. I've been archiving and uploading odd material onto the web for 20 years now, the standout moments being Comics with Problems and The Realist Archive Project. To a discerning vintage audience, those links might raise a smile. (And hello if you've never visited either, too) Both projects represent early Internet efforts to scan and upload material, far before social media robbed people of their independence to do so on their own, and both projects have an interesting history regarding where uploaded content got shared. This episode of SWWE introduces the third archive project of the site, which is a direct companion of The Realist Archive: The Other Scenes Inventory Report.

    To counterculture historians and rare paper collectors, OTHER SCENES is widely considered among the best underground newspapers published in the 1960s. It was a daring and no bullshit ride into drugs, politics, race, sex, and news. It is playful and it is a lot of fun. It also has been largely forgotten by time, as competitive papers like Rolling Stone survived. (Rolling Stone not only copied Other Scenes format, incidentally, but it also copied its contributor pool, namely Hunter S Thompson, who contributed to Other Scenes, considering its editor John Wilcock a colleague). You'll get a chance to read all of this O.S. material soon.

    You might recognize John Wilcock's name from the comic that ran on Boing Boing here for about ten years. This archive is meant to be additional material for the collected print edition of those comics, but the depth of this material likely far exceeds the comic itself.

    It is called 'the inventory report' as I have a large box of material from John, which needs closer scrutiny now that the comic is complete. So each two weeks, as part of Spoken Word with Electronics, there will be four OTHER SCENES items added, including audio commentary. You can download nicely restored PDF copies at the archive. Each PDF copy is free for you to non-commercially distribute and is OCR scanned for searchable text. This first installment includes rules on how to attend a San Francisco Sex Party in 1967, along with a garden party that Wilcock attended with Alan Watts at the Aldous Huxley estate.

    The goal here is to upload the entire run (or a very close percentage) of OTHER SCENES. Much of this material has not been seen in more than fifty years. It's a ton of fun to read. As Wilcock's biographer, I'm most excited about providing audio commentary, going through all the material.

    This first posting of the Other Scenes Inventory includes Issue #1 ("Fuck Hate", 1967), Issue 3 ("The Scene", 1967), a "Diagram of a Drug Abuser" (reference material, TX Dept of Public Safety, Narcotics Service), and the original 1966 advertisement Wilcock ran in the Village Voice when leaving both The Voice and The East Village Other to strike it out on his own.

    Here's this week's commentary track:

    The remainder of the show asks you for your feedback. Feedback is on our mind this week, as the headphones in our studio had a slight leak in them. This is a fun trick to learn how to purposefully do, as your headphones can cause amplifier-rattling feedback with just the slightest tilt off your ears into a microphone when recording. And if this is something you love doing too, I'm interested in hearing YOUR feedback! Send any screeching howling tones, or drones, or walkee talkee scratches, etc, to our Soundcloud page via Direct Message, and we'll include your feedback (with credit) in the next episode. All feedback welcome!

    SPOKEN WORD WITH ELECTRONICS #59: "I'd Really Like Your Feedback" (ANNOUNCING: OTHER SCENES!)

    Connect with SWWE via Good Endeavors and Other Scenes on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google . Thanks and have a good week.

    — Make your mind happy, Visit the OTHER SCENES ARCHIVE Today!

  • ELECTRIC TOOTH! Hear a Synthesizer recreate getting a Dental Crown

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series of unusual stories and commentary, paired with modular electronic sounds and noises.

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This week the subject is dentistry. I've always been good about going to the dentist. Give me the chair, man! It's like getting a tattoo every six months on your teeth. But due to the pandemic I hadn't been able to get a cleaning for seventeen months, and one of my few fillings (the silver kind from the 1980s) didn't survive. So, pandemic delay accepted, I received the rough prognosis: I NEEDED A CROWN. So this week is dedicated to that very noisy drilling procedure.

    Make your own tooth: Using a blend of contrasting highly modulated voltage into filters and pitch on a few synths, we emulate the musical scraping and drilling of the experience. Eurorack and event generators provide a good amount of variety to add in sounds of water, random bits of flying pieces, suction, etc. Dental crowns are fascinating, really. Not too painful, but it turns your mouth into a lego set. The mouth is like a small workshop in your face. There's nothing it can't do, or become! Hear our electric tooth tribute in this week's introduction.

    Contrasting the discomfort and humor of the dentist, audio this week is a montage of some of the best parent protests against forcing masks on their children. Hand a microphone to a pissed off parent and there's no end to the surprises! You find that in the raw audio section of this week's episode.

    We also visit a coin fountain and travel back in time. But there's no time travel for teeth! Don't miss your cleanings. In between, be sure to floss!

    Postscript: In memory of video artist NANCY CAIN

    This week's show is in tribute to Nancy Cain, who passed away on Sunday August 22. Nancy is well known to video art activists for her work in Videofreex. (If you make ANY non-corporate video, from art to a tiktok post, you owe her a thanks for paving the way for your access to such ideas) I knew her as Paul Krassner's truest friend – his long time wife of many decades. She was 81 and an incredible human. Here's to you, Nancy. Read her book, incidentally: It's incredibly vivid and inspiring.

    (Fellow Videofreex artist Skip Blumberg confirmed this sad news of Nancy's passing)

    Connect with SWWE via Dentist Procedure and Replacement Cap on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .

    Thanks and have a good week, Ethan

  • Would you send $1000 to this 1990s Televangelist?

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This last year (or two) has been a fun dip into Hell, and it's rekindled my interest in Televangelism. I used to record a lot of them on VHS tapes in the 1990s and so this week I thought I'd share my favorite one. I originally labeled it "Reverend Hellfire" on the VHS label. It's an amazing story that is literally rags to riches, from preaching in front of trash dumpsters 45 years previous, that suddenly erupts into a constant flood of thousand dollar bills. He actually talks to God. Do you have $1000? Do you have a phone? CALL NOW!

    Side B continues the Charlie Pickle serial, with "The Daily Worry".

    SPOKEN WORD WITH ELECTRONICS #57: TWENTY DOLLAR HELL and The Lost Emotional Sound of Dating on Landline Phones

    Here's the entire episode:

    Connect with SWWE via Hellfire and Bandpass Filter on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .

    Thanks and have a good week, Ethan

  • Have you heard Abbott & Costello's 'Ten Year Old Child Bride' joke from 1941?

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This week we meander back to the more innocent times of 1941. Universal Pictures released a war film titled "Buck Privates" starring Abbott and Costello. It's mostly silly gags throughout but there's a slightly notorious joke hidden in there about a 40 year old man marrying a ten year old girl. The duo would continue the joke for some years, short-titled "You're 40, She's 10":

    To Costello's credit, though Abbott urges him to pursue his infatuation with the 10 year old, the math on their age isn't right. It sets up the comedy, based on fractions and percentages: When will she be old enough? The duo are best known for other logic problems (like Who's on First?). Here's the entire routine:

    Abbott: You're 40 years-old and you're in love with this little girl that's 10 years-old. You're four times as old as that girl and you couldn't marry her, could you?

    Costello: Not unless I come from the mountains.

    Abbott: All right. You're 40 years-old. You're four times as old as this girl, and you can't marry her, so you wait five years. By that time the little girl's 15 and you're 45. You're only three times as old as that little girl. So you wait 15 years and when the girl is 30, you're at 60. You're only twice as old as that little girl.

    Costello: She's catching up.

    Abbott: Yes, yes. Now here's the question. How long do you have to wait until you and that little girl are the same age?

    Costello: Now what kinda question is that? That's ridiculous!

    Abbott: Ridiculous or not, answer the question.

    Costello: If I wait for that girl she'll pass me up. She'll wind up older than I am.

    Abbott: What are you talking about?

    Costello: She'll have to wait for me!

    Abbott: Why should she wait for you?

    Costello: I was nice enough to wait for her!

    It's not a terrible abstract math joke but certainly might concern modern audiences. The title for the film "Buck Privates" doesn't help!

    Appropriately, this week, we also conclude with our series of mail-order psychiatry records from the 1960s, and continue our audiodrama/radio program "Charlie Pickle" with an introduction to the manager of The Clarence Coffee Cup, "Angela Simmons".

    Connect with SWWE via 1940s Rationale and Collective Reasoning on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .

    Incidentally, with the Abbott and Costello joke being written 80 years ago in 1941, this year we can celebrate the birthday of the girl, who probably just turned 90! Lou Costello died at age 52, indeed making him much younger. Thanks and have a good week, Ethan

  • Re-entering society after 15 months in isolation

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. A few weeks ago I received my second vaccine shot. Ten days later I knew I was largely free to re-enter much of the world. I'd taken self-isolation pretty enthusiastically for fifteen months, to the equivalent that it felt like a space station in our home. Parts of me really loved it, other parts (like my socialized mental health) knew that the farther I got away from general society the more painful it would be in re-entry. So the process started this past week. I got an eggs benedict at a favorite local diner. I won't lie: The food felt great, the crowd felt tough. So a discussion on that, along with egg yolk facts, is on the menu for this episode. Life is like an egg yolk.

    (more…)

  • Listen to this 1946 informational on the wonders of post office work.

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This week, the focus is on warm weather! Few things say spring or summmer to me more than the sound of lawn mowers. Lawn Mower season came in with a big bang (or buzz) this month, and it is given a tribute in our introduction — It's Lawn Mower Season.

    The main audio for this week is a terrific 1946 audio informational from the U.S. Post Office, titled "Meet the Mailman" — You'll find untouched audio here with a re-imagined narrative of Glen Tucker, the bed ridden boy, here. Lots of incredible people, from Charles Mingus to Charles Bukowski (okay, incredible people named Charles) have worked for the USPS over the years, and with Trump threatening its existence and most of us surviving off deliveries for over a year, now is a good time to celebrate the Mail Workers! I love physical mail, and this week is a tribute to that. Great narration on the informational track, too.

    SPOKEN WORD WITH ELECTRONICS #54: LAWN MOWER SEASON! and Government Informationals on Mailmen, 1946.

    Connect with SWWE via Postal Scale and Stamps on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you podcast.

    Thanks and have a good week, Ethan

  • How to turn a broken dishwasher into a synthesizer

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This week we remember Bob Fass, who passed away on April 24th (the first night we recorded this current episode, on a three week cycle this week) – Fass was an radio innovator, turning a regular control booth into a soundboard for politics, yippie activism, and genuine bizarre antics, even said to influence WFMU's switch to freeform as a format. This episode is dedicated to Bob Fass.

    In a practical matter, our discussion this week describes a useful currency exchange system where broken appliances are turned into synthesizers. Our clothes washer's bearing broke a few years ago, initiating a lot of other possible damage to the hardware. The repair was more costly than a replacement unit – but there was a lot of machine unaffected – so before I junked the older machine, I decided to sell the individual working parts (circuit boards, front panel, glass lid, cables, screws, rubber feet, etc). I ended up with more money than the old washer cost new, able to replace it, along with over a thousand dollars in extra money. So check in on our tutorial for a number of suggestions. You likely have many things in your home that can be parted out and sold, turned into Synth Coin.

    This is even more advantageous for you now, as we're in a global components shortage and many of your broken appliances have lots of possible components and chips inside. It's environmentally beneficial, as well, as it keeps giant appliances out of the landfill. You can look forward to your appliance dying because you'll be able to sell it for parts.

    Regarding turning a dishwasher into an actual synthesizer – this is also possible! – Some small ovens and appliances maintain a 19" rack standard. You can turn an oven into a synthesizer, for example. Or use the oven as an enclosure.

    Trivia: If you were to build a $600 dishwasher, part by part, from the manufacturer, it would cost $4000. This is because individual parts are grossly overpriced and there's a huge market of people (and repairpersons) looking to buy knobs, boards, etc. See what sells before you junk your stuff. I've been doing this for decades – there are a few important seller rules (like accurately describing condition and if it is broken) – and you'll be surprised at how honesty often makes you more cash. And more cash means more synthesizers. At the very least, take the lid off and sell that. Most lids go for $200 or so, and that's a free eurorack module.

    SPOKEN WORD WITH ELECTRONICS #53: A Broken Appliance Buys You a Room Full of Synthesizers (Tutorial)

  • "Puff It, Swines!" A memory of smoking Hunter S. Thompson's favorite weed.

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This week, we give tribute to John Wilcock, who was the subject of the properly titled John Wilcock comic here on Boing Boing for close to a decade. A collection of the book is on Kickstarter this month – get a copy! – and if you're clicking this due to the headline, you might be curious about what pot Hunter S Thompson seemed to enjoy more than any other bag. The answer: John Wilcock's pot!


    check out John Wilcock on Kickstarter

    John was one of the earliest proponents of marijuana being legalized, and his credentials speak well to his taste in quality pot, too. He worked with Tom Forcade to publish National Weed in the 1970s, which became the better known High Times.

    John visited my home for a week in 2010 and he arrived with the world's most perfect slender brown-paper rolled joints. We worked on the Wilcock comic for a week, and every time we smoked, it was intensely perfect. I would not call it brain-bashing pot, more specifically a very cognitive weed, with a perfect flavor (kind of a mint or cinnamon, common to very fresh good crop).

    I'd known of John first through reading Hunter S Thompson's correspondence collections, there are a few letters to John in there, and apparently the pot John smoked had been consistently the same quality/strain of bud for decades. I suppose once you find your perfect blend, why fuss around for others?

    When I asked about Hunter, John would chuckle, "Oh, he was always after me for as much of my pot as he could get." This is saying something, as Hunter clearly had access to tons of pot, everywhere, so why the focus on John's? John would extend the joint looking at it affectionately. Asking him if it was the same stuff, he nodded. It was extremely lucid weed, with a little pep, yet lightly calming. I was drinking at the time and it paired perfectly with bourbon and beer. Cigarettes, too. I've had a lot of pot and this stuff felt genuinely different. Lower THC content, so you could just devour puffs of it, and more focusing, too, at the same time. It was the kind of pot you want to write to, or work with, and we got the entire Wilcock book timeline established in less than a week. The quality of the actual rolled paper joint, too, felt like time travel in a way. Authentic "old guard" pot.

    Smoking John's pot, it made sense why people like HST would seek it out over other strains of weed. When Hunter visited John's home demanding more of it, John happily obliged. As HST got up to leave, some other friends showed up. A funny recollection from Wilcock was the new visitors looked down at the half-smoked joint in the ashtray. Hunter, who made as good an exit as he did an entrance, bellowed "Puff it, swines!" – and out the door he went.

    May you all have a good 4/20 and puff it, swines, to one and all!

    Enjoy this week's show, a tribute to John Wilcock, our friend, and underground icon:

    Connect with SWWE via Levitation and Paraphernalia on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .

    Thanks and have a good week, Ethan

  • Would Alan Turing even WANT to be on a £50 Bank Note?

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This week, we explore the wonderful world of Alan Turing, whose work in cryptography (i.e. code breaking) helped save the world in WW2. He then conceived the basic structure for computers and saw the future of artificial intelligence. He was celebrated in his lifetime by being condemned by the UK government for sex, spending the last year or two of his existence undergoing forced 'chemical castration' by way of experimental estrogen treatments.

    The UK has done some good work to remedy the ugly errors of its past, directly addressing it in prepared statements with the bank note itself, which has some very cool details and design:

    But this week discusses a basic truth: Government Symbolism, especially its currency, is complicated. To be candid: after someone is abused, as Turing was, they might not want to be the face on their abuser's money. Or the errors of such violence should be on the bill itself. For example, in the margin of the bill, the words "Alan Turing (1912-1954)" are stated, and with ample empty space. Simply adding: "— with apology for his unkind treatment by the UK government", or something equally observant, would make the Fifty Pound note less propagandistic and really mean something.


    The white space on the note allows for an extra message in the margin. Make it friendly with a happy font, even, but say it!

    The story of Alan Turing is a deep and interesting one, however, and his accomplishments far outshine his tragic ending. So we discuss the variations on this problem with our discussion this week, which also discusses how a Turing Machine works, which is a fun thing to learn.

    Following that, for musical purposes, this week includes a demo of the eurorack version of The Turing Machine. It's an interesting interpretation. A normal Turing Machine edits a code of tape until it is a solved problem, and the eurorack interpretation gives you random notes until you lock in a sequence of sounds, solving the random generation into melodies. We use the Dead Man's Catch version in this week's demo.

    Also, Mark was very cool to already post this, but if you read the John Wilcock comic on Boing Boing over the last ten years, we have now completed a collection of the series and it is running on Kickstarter this month. (video posted below) – Price of one copy will cost you only one Alan Turing, or less!

    Connect with SWWE via Bad Government Behavior and Time on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .

    Thanks and have a good week, Ethan

  • A 1970s tutorial on repairing vinyl wood decals for your car

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This week we look back at the finest era in car design: The WOOD AND FAKE WOOD PERIOD. This is when most family cars had wood paneling – or, if you were sporting, fake wood paneling.

    The transition from 1960s real world materials into the 1970s dealt with numerous synthetics, and the automobile industry felt this very directly. You'll see the interiors and outer shell of cars begin to lose many metal, wooden, and leather comforts, with a big boom in SYNTHETICS in the 1970s, with plastic everywhere. And that meant big business for VINYL DECALS. Of course, vinyl wood grain decals are far less robust than wood paneling itself – So this week, we share filmstrip audio on VINYL DECAL repair from the 1970s.

    A lot of life mantras can be taken from this tutorial. Namely: Use a squeegee to iron out all those bubbles and blisters – Use a heat gun for stubborn blisters – And if life gives you bubbles, use a pin to pop them!

    Additionally, the show opens this week with a police scanner report of a TOOL FIGHT at our local Home Depot in Austin TX. Reportedly customers versus employees. Stay safe out there, customers and employees! – Especially in the drill, nail gun, and hammer section.

    Audio for the 1970s vinyl repair has been reconfigured into this week's Side A: "Caring for Your Domesticated Human in a Post-Covid Petting Zoo" and you'll find part 32 of Charlie Pickle continued here with "The Sunday Morning Cartoons".

    SPOKEN WORD WITH ELECTRONICS #50: TOOL FIGHT! and 1970s VINYL DECAL REPAIR

    Connect with SWWE via WOOD and VINYL WOOD DECAL on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .

    Thanks and have a good week, Ethan

    Related:

  • MOUSE EARS! Does Mickey Mouse regularly use a Ring Modulator to sneak onto Air Force One?

    The proof they don't want you to see: A completely undoctored photo of Air Force One from last month shows clear signs of Mouse Ears infiltration.


    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This week, the discussion is on ring modulators. If you have a synthesizer or a guitar, or even just a voice, you need a ring modulator. They've been around since 1934, and provide some of the most incredible sound effects imaginable.

    Please review the following materials for more information:

    1934 is an interesting year. Mickey Mouse had just turned six years old, being born in 1928, and most intelligence literature indicates the mouse found ring modulation to be highly addictive. A fan of music and telephones, Mickey Mouse became a ring modulation addict in 1945, and since then has been known to use the many techniques of ring modulation, which is signal processing from the combination of two signals. He uses these techniques to become invisible. Once invisible, Mickey Mouse regularly walks among us, hiding out in our business meetings. And when he can get onto Air Force One, he likes to be a fly on the wall (or a mouse you can't see) and he eavesdrops on world leaders.

    The truth of this was exposed this month when it was revealed a man in "mouse ears" was found within walking distance of Air Force One itself, hiding out on the airfield for close to five hours until his distinctive "mouse hat" caught the attention of someone. So this week's show we discuss Mouse Ears and Mouse Ears Infiltration (aka M.E.M.E.I.-CKEY MOUSE)

    Your communication materials include a full hour long tutorial on Ring Modulation for music purposes, making everything from wonderful science fiction laboratory noises, to turning James Cagney's into a clanking bell.

    Three ring modulators are used, providing a good summary of the format: The Bob Moog designed classic MF-102, the completely passive and wonderfully unpredictable Rucci Ring Modulator, and the sound of hellfire itself, also known ad the RK3 Ringer/Shaper, from Metasonix.

    SPOKEN WORD WITH ELECTRONICS #49: Ring Modulation Showdown! (and Mouse Ears Facts)

    Connect with SWWE via Mixed Frequency and M.E.M.E.I. on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .

    Thanks and have a good week, Ethan

  • The SSL "FX Capacitor" is one of the oddest hardware reverb processors on the planet.

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This week's episode is a demo on a very peculiar reverb unit called the FX Capacitor from Synthetic Sound Labs.

    SSL is known for modifying computer chips into odd musical uses, be it a Votrax voice chip for its Scat Talker phoneme generator or a digital answering machine chip for its SampleCorder. They're all wonderful products, capable of bizarre sounds with a unique low-fidelity sound that is immediately gratifying. You've heard their modules used on a lot of different music you enjoy. (My likely guesses: Boards of Canada, Depeche Mode, others) I've been curious about the FX Modulator, as it applies the same concept to studio effects, using a Spin Semiconductor at its base.

    What is compelling about the FX Modulator, however, is the patch points on the dial: There's control voltage for nearly every setting, with no menu diving, just a select dial for each effect and send any voltage or sound into three parameters and feedback inserts. What this allows for is adding a waveform to the shape of a reverb tail or other really wild noises. I've never encountered a reverb unit similar to it. You'll need a proper Moog power supply to get going with something like this, which is addressed in this week's introduction. Then, lock into your DeLorean for a complete half hour discussion of the FX Modulator itself. If you'd like to skip ahead, there's a seven minute sample of all the odd sounds in this week's Side A.

    Connect with SWWE via Modified Time Traveling Chip on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .

    Thanks and have a good week, Ethan

  • The 1978 Mego 2-XL Talking Robot was a brilliant illusion of interactive computing, based on 8-Track tapes

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This week, the focus is on the Mego toy company and a wonderful toy robot they produced in 1978, called the 2-XL.

    There are lots of funny attempts at providing robotic toys in the 1970s and 1980s as a product, and most of them offered something silly, like a robotic arm that can lift a plastic block, or a remote control option with a drink tray and blinking eyes – but the 2-XL actually talked with you and asked you questions. It would tell you if you were right or wrong, too, almost like it had artificial intelligence!

    This week's show describes how this worked:

    So what you're looking at, actually, is not a robot but a VERY clever use of eight track tapes. The 2-XL has four buttons, which are the same buttons you'll find on an 8-track player. The data cartridges inside the 2-XL were merely 8-track tapes, and the 2-XL is really just an 8-track player with blinking eyes – but that shows the brilliant idea on how to use the format for something interactive. The robot would ask you a multiple choice question and you would select any of those four buttons for your selection. 8-Track cartridges play all four sides simultaneously, as it's all one long loop of 1/4" tape. (Trivia: You couldn't rewind them – Only fast-forward!)

    By carefully syncopating all four audio programs on an 8-track, you could produce an interactive experience of "press now to select option one" on one track followed by, in time, "you are correct!" on the other 8-track program. The separate programs would need to allow timing for each other selection, making this a pretty complicated process. And it required your PARTICIPATION in the illusion of this to complete the trick. But if you played along with the 2-XL, it allowed for a complete emulation of what is now common multimedia experiences. Really really freaking clever.

    Credit for the invention (and voice acting) on the 2-XL goes to toy inventor Michael J Freeman and there's a GREAT emulator on the 2-XL that provides all the 8-track tapes in an easy to use interface where you can play all the programs.

    Whenever I've played with a 2-XL the only thing I've desired is for the robot itself to be a little more robotic, so in the show this week, we run it through a Vocoder. As I mention in the track, there are three really amazing Vocoders on the market today. Two of them cost $4,000 (the Moog re-issue and the GRP V22) and the third one which is almost just as good for sound is an ipad app called Matrix Vocoder, which is just ten dollars. We opted to use that one for this week's show.

    Learn about 8-track tapes in general, along with a side-story on choosing tankless water heaters or standard hot water heaters, along with a follow-up to our Bruce Haack tribute from last week here in the player:

    SPOKEN WORD WITH ELECTRONICS #47: Hot Water Facts and The 1978 2-XL Talking Robot

    Connect with SWWE via Intelligent Tape-Based Robotics on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .

    Thanks and have a good week, Ethan

  • THE BRUCE HAACK SONGBOOK is a vital and RARE piece of early Electronic Music history. Hear a Computer play through all of it.

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. We're just now getting through an entirely wild week of weather and bureaucratic power grid failure here in Texas. Texas has been on its own power grid since 1935, or approximately since power grids existed in the United States.

    This isolationism on Texas' part meant that if we, say, refused to weather-proof our electrical grid (not needed if you aren't regulated!) then, perhaps, close to 4 million people would be without power during the coldest week of weather in decades. And, it's not like TX politicians care about dead bodies, but it would also add to Greg Abbott's death count for 2021, with some very tragic stories. So the first two tracks (introduction and discussion) this week discuss how my wife and I got through a week of blackout, with single digit temperatures outside, no heat – and then, no water. Pretty wild experience! Once water became scarce, people started gathering snow and other fluids (of unusual color) to fill their toilets. Fortunately, we had a filled bathtub, thanks to my wife's good thoughtful preparation. But the week was purgatorial in a way I haven't experienced in a long time. Somehow a power failure is time stopping, even though it's mostly just camping inside your house. But we couldn't do anything and just had to sleep through the cold of it. Wild event.

    But if you're jumping to this post based on the BRUCE HAACK headline, chances are you're much more interested in the main item: I have a copy of The Bruce Haack Songbook. This was self-published by Bruce Haack in 1975 and if you enjoy electronic music and the pioneers of its artform, Bruce Haack ranks pretty high up there on the list. There's Wendy Carlos, Raymond Scott, Clara Rockmore, Morton Subotnick, and a few others – but for me, Bruce Haack is high genius on a level above them. He started by making childrens records in the 1960s and built his own synthesizers to perform the music, including a vocoder. All of his work is amazing. I can recommend this film as a perfect primer if you've never been properly introduced to his work, and I'd just start with the first album, Dance Sing and Listen (1963) and follow the discography in order from there. You'll find so many interesting musical ideas throughout, and weird harmonic experiments, including duets Haack often sings with himself, one voice singing and the other vocoding. I consider him similar to the Velvet Underground in breaking apart Electronic Music into less academically rigid and more wildly awesome performance.

    And there are fewer examples of this wonderful mind of Haack's more displayed than in the SONGBOOK, itself. This is a 60 page book, saddle stitched and large format, that Haack decorated himself with art and illustration, and even contains lyrics! Most of the tracks are uploaded to Youtube, presently, so here is what is included, in order.

    BRUCE HAACK SONGBOOK CONTENTS:

    1. Friendship
    2. Rain of Earth – Epic, From Electric Lucifer
    3. Funky Little Song – Ding Dong!, (heavy precursor for Money Mark sound style)
    4. African Lullaby
    5. Spiders – Awesome, best rhyme
    6. Upside Down
    7. Motorcycle Ride – Raging
    8. Hand Jive – Presently not online – (first track off "Dance to the Music")
    9. Maybe This Song
    10. Bored of Education – Classic Track from BITE.
    11. Right On – Personal Favorite
    12. The Universal Unicycle Show
    13. Catfish – from Captain Entropy
    14. Hush Little Robot – Presently not online, but to the tune of Hush Little Baby
    15. E.I.O. – Presently not online, but to the tune of Old MacDonald
    16. Angel Child
    17. Program me – Wild Rocker! (would fit in perfectly in a Black Angels set)
    18. Jelly Dancers – As covered by The Eels (hell yeah)
    19. Silent Movies – Presently not online
    20. Goodnight Elephant – Presently not online
    21. The Hamburger Song – Presently not online
    22. Song of the Beans – Presently not online
    23. Colors
    24. Touch
    25. God bless Us, Everyone – Presently not online
    26. I Like Christmas – Such a perfect holiday song. In fact, THE perfect holiday song.

    Then the book ends with a specific instructional called "Machine Motion Chants" which can be considered and exclusive track to the Songbook itself. You'll hear the Motion Chants enacted by a human (me) and the music played by a computer in this week's Side A.

    SO, in terms of scans of this book, I feel like images should be made available. The current scalping on a copy of THE BRUCE HAACK SONGBOOK goes for, roughly $350-$1,000 dollars. So I will be uploading as many images of the book as possible onto this page (check back later if it has no content presently) – I've had my own copy for 20 years and the spirit of sharing that this show hopes to be, I'll be uploading scans later tonight. One fun item, however, for the Boing Boing group here. This piece from the page for "Hush Little Robot":

    BOING BOING BOING oing oing!

    So what is the SONGBOOK itself? What makes it particularly interesting, is it is musical notation of all of these tracks, hand drawn, by Haack himself. This is different than buying sheet music of something, it's looser, and introduces you more of his mind than to the songs themselves. To make this fun, I thought it would be cool to have a computer play the music notation itself. To do this, I use an app called Sheet Music Scanner. This thing is great! It allows you to scan any sheet of music and turn it into a MIDI file. It's four dollars and you can draw your own notes out and shoot a photo of it and hear it played back. I then export the Midi file to Musk Midi Player (two dollars), which allows easy midi note looping. Great educational tool and an even cooler tool for having a computer play back the entirety of the Bruce Haack Songbook. So that's what we've done this week. You'll find that discussion, going through the book and making midi scans of all the notes in the playlist below, along with other SWWE sections.

    We end this with the sad mention that Esther Nelson passed away in October of last year. I just heard about this and as a young listener TREASURED her voice, her dance, her laughter, and her kindness – which is on all of the albums she shared with Haack, himself.

    We all loved you Miss Nelson.

    SPOKEN WORD WITH ELECTRONICS #46: The BRUCE HAACK SONGBOOK!

    Connect with SWWE via Musical Genius and TX Government Failure on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .

    Thanks and have a good week, Ethan

  • "The Stolen Runaway Fire Truck Story" (complete with Police Scanner audio)

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This week is somewhat precarious in Texas, where the show is recorded. Our power snapped off at 2AM last Sunday night (or early Monday morning). There's a complicated conversation about why – it's partly due to the insanely cold weather the state is managing, but more about Texas not following years of suggestions to improve and share its power grid. We'll discuss that next week, but for humor, here's the funniest item I can provide: "The Stolen Runaway Fire Truck Story".

    Hear the audio:

    This is a story about a Fire Truck that was stolen last week in Austin Texas. It's extremely funny, with exception of a Fire Truck being destroyed by the joy rider, and the highway road itself getting torn up by shredded metal being scraped deep into the gravel — but based on plot alone and no injuries, the actual narrative reminds me of a video game. Essentially, the police followed the Fire Truck, and kept shooting it with lasers until it stopped, defeated. As there were no actual bullets exchanged, only a well positioned spike strip, "video game lasers" has to be the only explanation. (I know it was the spike strip) All the same, watch out for the IKEA cameo, which makes it a romantic comedy, along with a barking Dog Cop.

    I love Police Scanners, and the Runaway Fire Truck Story is one great example as to why they're great. Learn more about this Area Texas Man Accused of Multiple Charges, including his desire to "honk the horn", "light up the emergency lights", and "make it fly" — in full detail, at this local news coverage. Humorously, he was "currently wearing an ankle monitor as a result of a previous charge" when stopped. Built in GPS!

    Rest of the show is the beginning of a tribute to Bruce Haack, which will properly complete next week. The Haack component got partly interrupted by the power outage affecting millions of Texans. See SIDE A for a personal perspective on that. Here's the entire show for this week:

    SPOKEN WORD WITH ELECTRONICS #45: STOLEN FIRE TRUCK! And Part One of a Tribute to Genius BRUCE HAACK

    Connect with SWWE via Fire Truck and Ankle Monitor on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .

    Thanks and Stay Warm, Ethan

  • It took some effort, but I have finally achieved over 35,000 Unread Work Emails. (and 100,000 Personal Ones)

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. Bit of a fun one this week. Depending on your personality type, the phrase "I have over 130,000 unread emails" will either place you in one of three or four personality categories: Discomfort over the idea of this (That makes me anxious), Competition (I have more than that!), Disconcern (So What?) or Self-Reflective/Assessing (I only have 20, I'm fine). But it's unlikely any of you will envy a person with such a stockpile.

    I can't sell this batch of unread emails as a currency, just the number itself, for example. (Though if this were Google, they would be selling the information gathered, but that's another topic) – Really, the acquisition of such a bounty of unread messages is a descriptor of a kind of personality, nothing more or less. But I decided about twelve years ago, when my daily management of emails had run over to 500 Unread Messages, to just let the faucet continue unabated. If I missed a message, someone would surely message again, and not going through a daily drill of negotiating trashed messages or folder arrangement provided literal hours of rescued time to my work week. So, at 500 unread emails and 3,000 unread work emails (ha), I thought: "Let's see how far we can take this".

    After a year of not organizing messages into separate folders, I found I'd developed a very comprehensive habit. I hadn't missed a single important message from or to anyone. There was only one folder: My INBOX, and it was easy to look at 200-300 messages a day visually to determine if I needed to open a message, or if the subject itself was suitable to indicate its contents. I started to receive compliments from co-workers for my dependable communication style, as well. Oddly, the less I cared about structuring and organizing, the more I was perceived as provably structured and organized.

    So this week, I celebrate the achievement of 100,000 unread personal emails and 35,000 unread work emails. To make this applicable to the show, I discuss digital resolution, compared to analog signals. In some ways, digital resolution in its lowest bitrate is a collection of poles of data. Each pole could be perceived as a single message, or an email (why not) – and this week's demonstration shows you how to make your own waveform for free, making a very low bitrate waveform using a tool like Audacity: Make a 1/10th second tone (generate tone) and add a 1/5th of a second space of silence (insert silence) – Then follow along in the discussion on how to make a suitable VCO (or DCO, more accurately) for adding to modular synthesis.

    Some of these episodes of SWWE discuss expensive gear, but everything made this week is using free software, like Audacity. The mentioned apps are incredibly cheap, as well: PixelWave (one dollar) and Bebot (two dollars).

    SPOKEN WORD WITH ELECTRONICS #44: "A Group of Over 100,000 Emails Walk Into a Bar…"

    Connect with SWWE via Flagged or Unread Email on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .

    Thanks and Have a Very Communicative week, Ethan

  • Unusual Audio Hallucinations: Do you ever hear bubble wrap in your pockets?

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the show. This week we get down to the serious question of the day: Do you ever hear bubble wrap in your pockets? Happened to us this week, and it very likely might have been a complete audio hallucination. Fortunately, using specific patented Psychomental Technology, we were able to record the hallucination itself in the audio track. Nice technology that doesn't exist, but great for recording imaginary bubble wrap. This week we also discuss the wonderful GAMESTOP moment. I'm reminded of the cultural Gamestop precursor, Radio Shack, which is a prized part of my youth, which had its own troubles with Hedge Fund assault, see its 2015 battle with hedge fund Standard General.

    example:

    By delaying actions that might have preserved some of the chain's value, Standard General allegedly sought to take over RadioShack at the lowest price possible.

    Hedge Funds are awful! I'd love them to be a hallucination. This week also provides tips on relaxation and "The True Self and The False Self", Part 25 of Charlie Pickle.

    The entire thought of audio hallucination has been a fun one for me since I've been regularly using a Quantum Ocean daily. (See episode 22) The Quantum Ocean's wash of static, clicks, and noise produces audible thought hallucinations, not unlike what you might 'hear' while falling asleep at the edge of being awake or not, a kind of drift into dreaming. Fun as hell to be able to do this while fully awake. What sounds do you hallucinate?

    SPOKEN WORD WITH ELECTRONICS #43: Do You Ever Hear Bubble Wrap In Your Pockets?

    Connect with SWWE via Unverifiable Noises on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .

    Thanks and regards to GAMESTONK GAMESTOMP, Ethan

  • Listen to Hundreds of Butterfly Wings, Run Through Hardware Samplers

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. Really, a calm and simple one this week. Biden's in office, hooray, and the peace of mind and decompression from that is TANGIBLE, isn't it. So this week, I thought to look at a collection of audio files I've compiled from field recording in Austin and Chicago over a couple of years. There's butterfly wings flapping, a nearly perfect cicada, peacocks, and a parakeet record. All of this is run through hardware samplers, primarily a Korg MicroSampler, and turned into mechanized insect wing machinery. Have a nice week and enjoy the audio.

    SPOKEN WORD WITH ELECTRONICS #42: Hundreds of Butterfly Wings, Run Through Hardware Samplers

    Connect with SWWE via Relative Sanity and Peace of Mind on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .

    Thanks and good insect regards, Ethan

  • Remembering the KKK Riot on MLK Day in Denver, 1992

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This week, it's impossible to not discuss White Nationalism (or my joke for it: "What" Nationalism) – And during this week celebrating MLK Day, I feel inclined to talk about the formative role of the KKK on my mind, growing up as a goth/punk in Denver in the 1990s. The short version of this is "hate has happened before", it will get bad, AND it will go away again. I say this because my parents had their experiences with hate in the 40s and 60s, it went away, then I had my experiences in the 90s and it went away. It's always here, just less represented through position. So it's a less urgent worry about this current strain of the problem. The Feds are clearly on it, too. "What Nationalism" and "What Power" is Fucked.

    Contrarians will disagree and say NOPE, this is the worst the White Nationalist threat has ever been. But I'll say that's a narrow view of a longer running problem in the country. I actually was in a race riot in Denver in 1992, and that's what this episode will discuss.

    My view is more of a Comic-Con one. We've always had hateful unhappy people who find "what power" through acting up in Nazi Cosplay. But even if this month's insurrection looked awful and horrifying, it compares very little to the Klan's uprising in power in the 1990s, including its own Hitler Youth component of occupying high schools and turning football players and other students into KKK recruiters. I refer to this article as an example. I was a part of the counterculture of Denver in my teens and we all knew many people who were in the KKK, we knew them from home room and we knew girls who dated them. This was the basic state of punk at the time. Skinheads and anti-racists all went to the same dance clubs, music stores, and coffee shops. And so when a riot happened in Denver on January 20 1992, I unsurprisingly recognized a bunch of the KKK supporters on the Capitol Steps as people in the punk community. It was a terribly depressing day, chronicled here, and in video:

    Of course, Hate did not win out in time. Other punks fought back against the KKK violently, and Klan connections to Denver's punk and goth community was largely a shameful secret. Most people didn't tolerate hate in any way, but my highschool years, age 14-18, was one when nearly everyone knew at least one KKK member or someone dating a skinhead, or some other dismal bullshit. I guess you could call them Klansboys, more accurately. Or Aryan Doof. And most of them grew out of it. But I don't believe the same can be said now with What Nationalism. The Klan was far more ubiquitous. Perhaps discussing the Klan of the 1990s is a useful way to prevent this current problem from expanding into worse territory, too.

    This is not saying punks and KKK are the same thing, it's more complicated. But here's a piece on the problem in the 1990s, presented optimistically about the problem of today. And an excitement about a new Administration in Washington in less than a week. Thank the lord.

    SPOKEN WORD WITH ELECTIONICS #41, Remembering the KKK Riot on MLK Day in Denver, 1992

    Connect with SWWE via 1990s Recall on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .

    Thanks and have a good week – Ethan

  • A YIPPIE SEANCE! — Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin Take Credit for Last Week's Insurrection. abbie hoffman yippie

    Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds

    Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the show. This week we're pleased to welcome Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin into the studio. It's their first interview in more than 25 years! Abbie has been in hiding since 1989 and Jerry has gone low profile since 1994, but we meet with them via seance this week. The reason: They want to take credit for the insurrection at DC. Specifically the wikipedia article that didn't exist until January 6, titled: The 2021 storming of the United States Capitol

    It can now be told, and explained, that the charismatic smiling quality of the rabid crazed neo-nazis storming into the Capitol building were, in fact, under the spell of YIPPIE MAGIC —  double-crossed into an act of self destruction! This fulfills a 50 year plan, begun in 1970, to crumble the Republican Party. Abbie and Jerry do a better job of explaining this, which is fully described in Side A this week: "YIPPIE SEANCE!" Abbie Hoffman & Jerry Rubin Take Credit for Last Week's Riot.

    January 6 will go down in history as the best day ever for the Democratic Party. Not only did we recover the Senate, the entire world saw clear optics of the festering monster that the Republican party has been creating since Goldwater. Since gerrymandering. Since FOX News. Since McCarthy. They can all try and walk this politely into being Trump's fault, but everyone knows this is all the GOP's creation. Future wikipedia articles talk about how January 6 is officially known as the day the GOP died. It will be a felony in the future to be a Republican Senator. Viva!

    SPOKEN WORD WITH ELECTRONICS #40: "A YIPPIE SEANCE!" — Last Week's DC RIOT Explained

    Additionally, 2020 ended with an incredible video upload. MEDIA BURN uploaded a politely titled "CHICAGO CONSPIRACY 8" by RG Davis to VIMEO. This footage, which hasn't been released in 50 years since its one time airing is the most candid conversation with the Chicago 7 during the fourth month of their trial. If you've ever been curious to see ACTUAL footage of the personalities on trial, this is as honest a capsule you'll ever likely see.

    Chicago Conspiracy 8 from MediaBurnArchive on Vimeo.

    When done with the video, hop aboard for an hour long talk with Yippie Ghosts. This last week was awful to watch but the beginning of America's recovery, trust us.

    Connect with SWWE via Yippie Spells and Magic on Bandcamp, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google .