Back to FrameSet

  Embracing Chaos: The Complexity of the Firesign Theatre Phil Proctor, Firesign Theatre Speaking at Embracing Complexity Sponsored by the Ernst & Young Center for Business Innovation and Complexity Magazine August 4, 1998 Cambridge, MA

The following transcript is used with permission from 

Introduction by Chris Meyer:

I want to say just in two senses of this discussion of metaphor. I've had a lot of people tell me how stimulating they've found Andy Beyerchen. s talk and Kevin referred to it a little while ago in his introduction. And I think going back to that hype or buzz graph that I showed yesterday morning and on which Tom [Petsinger] will have some comments this afternoon. It seems to be that you can at least take a position that people have been saying that complexity is just a metaphor. Where are the tools? Where are the mathematics? And indeed the tools of mathematics are forthcoming and in the casino of technology after lunch you'll see half a dozen or actually dozens among the five exhibitors of these tools. But, as we've been saying, it is the ideas of complexity that right now are having an impact on strategy and on business. Now is it metaphorical or just metaphorical? There is, in the 20s, a body of work started by a guy named [Crizipski] on general semantics. I'm just curious. How many people have heard of general semantics as a discipline? Maybe one in ten of you or a little less. His mantra was the word is not the thing. The map is not the territory. Which says that any map we use, whether it be linguistic or otherwise, is quote just a metaphor. And if you read some of the neurological informed work right now, if you read Antonio [Demasio's] Descartes' Error or [Toratrandor's] User Illusion part of what they're saying is that the mind, what we call mind, is a metaphor as well. It's the way we perceive something that's going on which is much more complex than what we perceive as consciousness and our own actions.

So I think maybe it's time to stop using the phrase just a metaphor and I think this is part of Alan's message and say that changing metaphors is the most important thing you can change because it changes how you perceive anything from your consciousness to your simulation. I was intrigued as I was thinking about this by Patty's talking about yenta. You remember yenta? That was the agent that looked at the words you were speaking or typing and matched you up with people that might also be interested in the same ones. I realized that yenta uses your words as a metaphor for you. So there is a change of perspective possible around this idea of representation that I think has a lot to do with the interplay between the simulations, the ideas you see expressed in simulations and the equations. The periodic table is not chemistry. It is a metaphor for chemistry. The hard sciences are not immune from this.

So I want to tell you the story of one metaphor that was powerful for me. Graham Greene has a quote not unlike Stoppard's. There always comes a moment in time when a door opens and lets the future in. And in 1971 a lot of things were different. Nixon was President. I had hair. I had a lot of it, actually. And I was doing my graduate work in economics and I was doing all kinds of very poor metaphors for the economy. Inverting matrices and doing multi [unclear] and solving [Lagranian] multipliers and all this sort of [unclear] stuff about economics. And I'm sitting there one night and on to WMMR in Philadelphia comes a radio program. And I'm sort of listening with one ear and remember in 1971 computers were maybe writing payroll checks but they weren't very high in our consciousness. It became clear that the scene that was being acted out on this radio program was being acted out inside the mind of a computer. They were talking about things in software. And what was the scene?

The scene was actually exploring the mind of Disneyland. This computer was starting up rides and closing down stands and making everything happen within Disneyland. And the real import of it was, as it became clear after about half an hour, now I dropped my textbook so obviously was listening to this with full attention. Was that this was the same simulation that was running the government through the means of a hologram of Nixon. And this got to be a pretty exciting way to look at the future. And I looked into this and tried to find out who was doing this and here they are. This is the Firesign Theater at that time who were doing radio comedy in Los Angeles. And consistently they have been ahead of the game in understanding--who was thinking about computer simulations as a social force in 1971? Only them.

And Phil Proctor, who is here to talk to us today, tells me that came from actually looking at the Elisa program, which some of you may know was an early attempt to create a psychiatrist in software that would do kind of [Regerian] reflective therapy for people. So I think that ability to take a couple of clues and go forward 30 or 40 or 50 years with them is a remarkable talent that the Firesign Theater has shown in all of its work or much of its work, as well as the talent to be tremendously funny. And so we went out and found one of the people behind the mask, Phil Proctor, the gentleman on the left who has kept his hair somewhat better. And Phil is here to talk to us in this continuing exploration of how improvisation works. How this emergent thing called funny comes out of the interaction of four agents known as the Firesign Theater. Phil Proctor.

[Applause] PHIL PROCTOR: Remember when a computer was on the TV in a science fiction show? A window was something you hated to clean and a ram made a nanny goat glow. An application was for employment. A program, a TV show. A cursor was speaking profanely. And a keyboard, hey, man, a piano. Memory was something that you lost with age. A CD was a bank account. And if you had a three-and-a-half inch floppy you hoped nobody would find out. Compress was something you did to the garbage, not something you did to a file. And if you unzipped anything at the office you'd be in jail for awhile. Log on was adding wood to a fire. Hard drive, a long trip on the road. A mouse pad was where a little mouse lived. And a backup stopped up your commode. And cut you did with scissors. Paste you did with glue. A Web was a spider's home and a virus--well, that was achoo! Now no one dies with computers crash. But when it happens you wish you were dead. So I'll stick to my pad and my paper and pen. And the memory that's left in my head. Thank you.

[Applause] You know, I've been having such a wonderful time here. And, of course, I prepared this speech which I've been writing and rewriting and rewriting. Because, after all, I'm here to talk about comedy and improvisation. And this afternoon--actually this morning--I heard Kevin Kelly say evolution runs on death. It's a dumb learning. And that inspired me because the title of our new album is--which is in here somewhere I guess--give me immortality or give me death. So there we are again. Do you know where the stuff is? This, ladies and gentlemen, as opposed to most of the things you've seen is a low tech presentation. But as somebody once said, celibacy is better than no sex at all. Can you all see this? This is an album. You don't have to see an album.

Because you're going to hear it. And you'll hear some excerpts from it today. Well, I'm one of the original four members of this wonderful group called the Firesign Theater. Which, since the late 60s, has been creating a very special form of multileveled and complex audio based satirical humor that's had some effect on American culture. Although some of you here this morning and certainly all of you who are not here this morning may have never heard of us.

I hope my presentation today will reveal that in creating our 24 albums, radio shows, short films and stage shows over the last three decades, we've actually applied many of the tenants of complexity theory. In fact, I think we invented many of them. Because we created the old fashioned way. We learned it. In fact, we're still learning and I hope earning, as I'll demonstrate by taking you through the process of conceiving, producing and marketing our latest CD. Which we started writing during the winter of El Nino and delivered six months later on April Fools Day, appropriately, of this year and which will be on the street, as they say, distributed by Rhino Records on September 1st. But before I begin my speech I'd like to share with you that during the course of this entire wonderful experience I really realized why the Firesign Theater was and is a representation of innovation. That's because when the four of us got together to start to do our art it happened during the rock and roll revolution. When for the first time record companies became very powerful agents, marketing agents. And they opened their doors to a lot of new wave music and new wave thinking. And we happened to be on the radio at the time because we were four guys who came together. We were improvising on KPFK listener supported radio and we were given an opportunity to go in and do some of this bizarre kind of freeflowing improvisation that we did on the radio on a regular basis in a studio.

We had attained a certain degree of fame as a show called Radio Free Oz that Peter Bergman had started. Well, what we were given the opportunity to do was to create a new art form. What we did was, as McLuen used to say, if you take a cliche and you rub it against another cliche you get a new cliche. Well, we took radio, which we had all grown up on and loved, and we rubbed it against television and what we got was the Firesign Theater. Which is this very strange and wonderful blend of kind of blind television, if you will. And the reason that we were able to do it was number one, nobody told us not to. And number two, nobody had done it before so there were no rules to doing it. And we were given the state-of-the-art studio and we were allowed to go in and play. And out of that play came a 35 year career for me. Which has had a few lapses now and again but basically we're still doing it. And this represents the first time in 24 years we've gone into the studio and done what we did before which is play with all of the state-of-the-art technology and create something which I hope will stimulate your imagination and create what I've learned to call movies for the mind.

And I am going to play you a little piece of that. It's like Dick Morley, the father of the programmable controller who spoke this morning, actually, once said. This is not rocket science. But it is upside down behavior. In fact, I'll be willing to bet that after you've absorbed all of these experiences from this particular event maybe you're already realizing that some of you already utilize the attributes of complexity in your own business without having been aware of it. In preparing for this presentation I was sent supportive material by Ernst & Young that included a CD-ROM. Well, unfortunately, I'm not PC. And I don't do Windows. So these gates were closed to me. Until I decided to read the book. A wonderful invention. Portable, durable. And I'll be quoting from certain things that are in this book this morning or this afternoon, whichever comes first. Embracing complexity, that's what it says on here. The very title of this convocation is paradoxical, isn't it? Isn't complexity embracing us? How can you hug something when it's got you in a bear hug? Which one of us isn't already overloaded and overstimulated and overburdened by making a living today? Or, in some instances, just living today. As the Firesign Theater dramatized back in 1971 on a record. I think we're all Bozos on this bus which was originally spelled with two s's. Bus, for those of you are into that. Computers are marvelous tools for information gathering and management. But the vision of their giving us more freedom was immediately usurped by the need to maintain them and to master them. And that's why in the adventure that we did through the then brave new world, virtual world of the future, I created a character called Clem who really turned out to be the first hacker. And I planted a virus, without knowing it. We didn't know what it was called.

In Doctor Memory. Doctor Memory being direct readout memory. And I brought the whole system down. I crashed the whole system. The whole vision of this Disneylandlike world. This holographic world and the President himself, completely destroyed by a prediction of things to come. Now in today's writings someone like Rosen and Wilde will write in techno stress. We become slaves to the very technologies we hoped would free us from drudgery. E-mails, faxes, pagers, Web pages and cell phones demand our constant care. Diverting us from giving our undivided attention to the jobs that matter most. What's their solution? Well, if these things are diverting your attention, turn them off. Or, as Marlon Brando once said, just because they say action doesn't mean you have to act. Now some of you may know that the last actual studio recording that the Firesign Theater did was released about 20 years ago. Many people have asked me what did I do to survive during the intervening years? Well, I opened a consulting firm designed to answer challenging business questions. And my first client was a poultry producer who was faced with a problem why did his chickens cross the road? Now to get to the other side is the conventional wisdom. But at Proctor Consulting we reminded him that in today's highly complex and chaotic business environment it's not quite that easy. Indeed, we found that deregulation of the chicken side of the road was threatening its dominant market position and the chicken was faced with significant challenges to create and develop the competencies required for the newly emerging market.

So Proctor Consulting, in a partnering relationship with the client, was contracted to aid the chicken by rethinking its physical distribution strategy and implementation processes. Using PIM, our proprietary poultry integration model, we helped the foul to embrace its native skills, biological methodologies, Darwinian capital and Lamarckian experiences in a dialogue with a self organized processes and technology within a diversified but macro manipulated program management framework. [Applause] We convened a cross spectrum of road analysts and chickens, along with experts deeply skilled in the transportation industry and we engaged in a two day colloquium of meetings in a parklike setting. Enabling an impactful environment which, aligned with the chicken's mission, vision and core values, focused on leveraging their diversified knowledge capital, both tacit and explicit, to enable them to synergize with each other. Thus, Proctor Consulting helped the chicken change to become more successful and he did get to the other side. Where he was plucked, processed and eaten before we could collect for our services. So we got plucked, too. And that's why I'm back with the Firesign Theater. Now before I explain the processes that we undergo to create our complex comedy out of chaos, I'd like to give you a little beta taste of the finished product. Give me immortality or give me death. Which is the story of the on-air staff of station Radio Now during the last eight hours of the old millennium or the beginning of the new millennium, whichever comes first. So let's see if we can get this wonderful equipment to play for us.

[Video plays] [Applause]
It's scary. See, what we do is we basically will take a form that's culturally commonly shared like the commercial form and we'll insidiously twist it out. And we'll change, to a certain extent, the message by applying surrealism to it in nice doses. We were inspired--some of the nice English folks are here--by the Goon Shows. Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan and the gang. To add surrealism to the normal forms of drama and comedy and to mix them all together into this new form. This new art form. Which is again something which plays on your brain by using the power of association. You were talking about the mind as a metaphor. And the fact is that yes, it certainly is a valid way to look at being a human being and human behavior. So what we managed to do, what we discovered was that by using the art of puton, like doing one of those wonderful bizarre chicken speeches which is in the language that you've heard but used in an amusing way that reveals other things, you're actually connecting with aspects of the brain that know what I'm talking about. And then when I take you into other directions where that's not where it's supposed to go, you laugh. Because it's a recognition that you've been kind of led up the garden path. Now what that also does is that is goes directly into your mind.

What happened to Chris when he was listening to our record back then was that he thought he was hearing something that was familiar to him, in a way. Am I speaking correctly for you? You heard something. You said well, that sounds familiar. And just like somebody, if they play this record on regular radio, somebody driving around somewhere is going to hear that U.S. Plus ad and say what are they selling? Chemistry, pork? They own the idea of America? I thought I owned the idea of America. So that's what we try to do. That's the fun of what Firesign Theater does. It does indeed--it's upside down thinking, in a way. All right. Let me try to get back to some of these comments that I discovered as I looked into this whole thing. Roger [Lewan] wrote about Leonardo da Vinci in this same book. "He had an ability to see the world in a different way and to think about the world in a different way. Constantly able to step out of the intellectual confines of his time and conceive of worlds that didn't yet exist, but one day just might."

That's really why you're all here. You want to see if you can kind of shake your brain out of the traditional ways of thinking and find new ways of thinking that you can apply to your business, to your life, to the future. Really. So that you have a future. And, by the way, I noticed, at least so far as I am aware, and I'll ask you. Did anybody mention why 2K during this whole event? No. Odd, isn't it. I think it might be because everything is technological. So we certainly don't want to talk about something that could bring it down. Just a thought. Okay. Now I think that the acceptance of our work represented the success of a new way of presenting and listening to satire in a recorded medium. And here I want to give you just a very quick kind of a resume of what the recording media is. Experiencing sound as we do now was enabled by 19th century technological achievements which were the first time in human history presented the air with a sound from so far away that its origin could not be seen by the listener, unlike Edgar Bergen, for instance. I can wait for that one. The first recognized radio drama occurred in 1922 in Schectady, New York.

By 1930 Amos and Andy enjoyed such massive popularity that you could walk down the street of any American city in the summer and never miss a laugh because everybody had their windows open while they were listening to the show. We then experienced the golden age of radio, ranging from Orson Welles and the Mercury Players and the brilliant works of Norman Corwin to Jack Benny and Fred Allen, Truth or Consequences, the Green Hornet, Just Plain Bill, Baby Snooks, on and on. It was under the sway of these influences that we were inspired to do what we did. And why we got together on the radio to play. Because you know on the radio all you have to do is create a sound effect and go anywhere you want. And that again is why the surrealism that we combined with our work worked so well. We could take all the elements of drama, comedy and plot and whathaveyou and we could go instantly from a word, which created an image or association in the mind, to the place that would take you. Bing, just like that. We didn't even have to bother. And if you add a little sound effect to it that puts you there, you were there. The things that cost so much money to do in film, we can do instantly in your mind. It's tremendously liberating.

As Kevin Kelly, author of Out of Control, pointed out evolution never works toward a single goal. There are always multiple things happening. Change changes itself. We take what we've learned from machines and put them into nature. That's exactly what we did. We took the rapidity of the presentation of ideas that was suddenly brought to us. McLuen spoke of it in terms of the electric revolution, the electronic revolution. And he was absolutely right. By the way, I knew McLuen. He was a wonderful man. When we performed up in Toronto he used to have us over for lunch. And he always wanted to pick our brains to get comedy into his lectures. And I remember once he had us for tea in his quarters, his offices. And he had a liveried butler with white gloves and formal tails bring us cigars, Cuban cigars. You couldn't get Cuban cigars in the States. And we lit up our cigars and were having some tea and smoking our cigars. He had placed a load in our cigars. Marshal McLuen. So, basically, electricity is instant everything. We're all staggering under this revolution. It isn't an evolution. It's an absolute revolution. We're staggering behind it. We're all trying to catch up with it. We're all trying to harness it. It's tremendously exciting. But what it did for us was and it showed us that people were getting huge amounts of information from television in short periods of time.

Remember, commercials used to be really casual. Buffalo Bob, who just passed away, he'd be doing his show. Said kids, by the way, Wonder bread builds great bodies in eight ways. And he could talk about it as long as he wanted. Arthur Godfrey was the classic radio purveyor of this kind of advertising. Well, that changed. Once it became a business they started to formalize it in live television which I was lucky enough to participate in as a child actor. But then it became an even bigger business because they could design it. And then it became combined with all of the thinking of marketing that came out of advertising. It became a really big business because we knew now that we could actually influence people's buying habits. Especially with the novelty of television. And these little bites became quicker and quicker because you want to kind of get in there and get out before you know what's happened. We own the idea of America. And we got that. We got that. And so we started speeding up the rate of presentation. A lot of the stuff that you heard in this big room went--there's a lot of heads to go over here--but it went pretty fast. What that means is that we made comedy records that you had to listen to again. We want you to listen to it again. We want you to listen to it with other minds present. And when that happens you realize that you absorb the thoughts around you. This is the same thing. I'm sure you've been in business meetings where, for one reason or another, let's say you're afraid of the boss. Well, everybody is afraid of the boss. And therefore the ideas are not going to flow with great rapidity.

On the other hand, if you are in an active, no holds barred, come on, let's just talk. There's no mistakes. You're not going to make any mistakes. Let's just talk about it. Things will flow and come out of you. If you're in an audience watching a play and a play is a better example than a movie because a play kind of demands that, like Gary Burton so brilliantly pointed out, that the players are aware of the audience and the audience is aware of the players. The whole thing is one organic bio unit. And you think it's a funny play. But nobody else does. You'll be embarrassed to laugh. But if you're in a group that scatters. Various people find different things funny. Or everybody finds it funny. Your level of enjoyment and understanding will rise. Because it's difficult to say well, this isn't funny if everybody else around you is laughing. I don't have this problem, by the way. I could be sitting with people. This is not funny. But that's a particular problem that a comedian has and I really don't want to go there. Go back to my remarks here. The original inspiration for this album came from a piece we did for National Public Radio's All Things Considered called Everything You Know Is Wrong About the Future. And soon thereafter we were contracted by a New York based syndicator, Radio Today, to produce 10 one minute April Fools commercials and news parodies for a pop quiz DJ novelty series that they give to the morning jocks. And, actually, the voice tracks, the voice tracks for the U.S. Plus spot you heard were actually lifted from that original session.

Well, a lot of people who do know the Firesign asked us how do we do this? How we do write all of this complex stuff? It's a 44 minute piece and it's jammed. It's just jammed with stuff. This one we wrote in a very similar way. And since we hadn't done it for 24 years we were all extremely sensitive to the fact that we were doing it again. And we were scared. Can we do it again? What did we do? What would it be like to go into the studio that first day? How are we going to do that? We were all scared. We shared some of that. Some of it was kind of suppressed. When we sat down and we started to write in my Canyon home. It was the same way. We always meet in somebody's house. Sit around a table and start to throw ideas out on the table. We would throw ideas out. We'd throw ideas out. We would try to make one another laugh. We'd do whatever we had to do to kind of bring forward stuff we'd been thinking about that we thought was pertinent. We knew radio at the end of the millennium would be a good vehicle to express a lot of ideas. Talk radio is so hot now. So hot. And since we've been involved, basically, in the art of talk and playing with the art form of talk, what better format. We had to avoid some of the cliches. The politics of it. Are we going to do the Rush Limbaugh thing? Or can we do something else with it? Can we subliminate it? Can we hide it? Can we make it more evergreen? Well, certain people brought characters in. Phil Austin brought in this zany Latino style DJ host. I brought in Mrs. Presskey. I brought in a character named Ralph Spoilsport who was a TV huckster I created back in the 60s. Hi ya, friends, Ralph Spoilsport Motors, the world's largest used nude automobile dealership. Ralph Spoilsport Motors in the city of emphysema. But this time, in the modern world, he's not selling used cars. He's selling used body parts. Which, by the way, are grown from his own headless body farm, by Americans for Americans. At this point I can quote from Ralph Stacey, author of Complexity and Creativity in Organizations. And he says we're not sure what we're doing.

We know something of how to proceed but we don't really know how to formulate clearly what we're trying to deal with. We arrive with a kind of program and then in confrontation with others we have to modify our own desires rather than pursue our own self interest. That's the way comedy writing always happens. Always. People come in. I'm sure your mild acquaintanceship with the crazy, egotistical world of the writer/producer today. The writer producers are people who can become inordinately and extraordinarily wealthy because they own a piece of the stuff they're creating. Smart. They got smart. On the other hand, what it means you've got a lot of big egos and they're all conflicting together. Well, we have egos, too. And one of the reasons we didn't work together was because you couldn't get our egos to work together for awhile. But we kept continually burying the hatchet and coming to grips with one another because we liked what we were doing. We believed in what we were doing. We brought all these characters to the table and once we had a rough outline of what we were going to do with them, we took it and we tried to sell it. This may not be tremendously funny but I guess I'm trying to share with you is that everything is a business in America.

Everything is a business. And the business has to do with getting yourself--Gary Burton was saying it. Getting out to the audience. You can rehearse and rehearse. But you want to eventually get out there and speak to people. And see if you get feedback. And see if they like what you're doing. They buy your product. If they want you to continue your career because that's the way the Firesign Theater happened. We were created by a word which is now--everybody will recognize. It's called narrow casting. There wasn't any such thing when we did our first records. But we got a core audience of bright people who went with us in the direction that we were creating and they liked it and they wanted more of it. And it was enough of them to make people at Columbia Records stand up in a meeting and say, "These guys are doing something extraordinary. We've got to keep it going." So this time we had no record company. Columbia is basically--they're not doing what they used to do. And we're part of what's known as the legacy series which means that they're lifting their leg on us because we're in bins. We're has beens. We're not out in the bins anymore, Firesign Theater. We're in some dusty shelf somewhere. So we shifted around and we ended up at Rhino Records. Rhino Records is a very successful company. And they're very successful because they started from the point of view of nostalgia, marketing nostalgia. Which is a wonderful service. Because it saved for all of us the kind of music and material that otherwise would have really been lost to our social consciousness. And it profited those who created it. So that there is a continuity for the artists and the producers and the musicians who created music and other forms of art.

So they were the perfect place for us to go. And we had done several records with them previous to this. We went in and pitched this thing, they loved it. They, however, loved the idea of Radio Now and so Harold Bronson, the president of Rhino Records, wanted basically for us to call the album Radio Now. So we went back in to start to write under the aegis of Radio Now. And we wrote as much stuff as we could in about two weeks, having to fly David Osman down from [Whigby] Island where he lives now and doing a couple of writing sessions. Two weeks of writing sessions. And we had enough stuff to go into the studio. We don't work like anybody else. At least so far as I know. I don't think Gary Burton would work like this, but he might. What we do is we write enough material so that we've got kind of a feel for what we're doing. Then we go into the studio. Once we get into the studio the characters start to come to life. We can do this because it's not expensive to do this.

We're the producers. We're the writers. We're the actors. We're the sound effects people. We choose the music. Sometimes we make the music. It's ours. Four men. So we have the freedom to be able to control our creation. And there are some quotes in there about what that means and how you do it. It has its challenges, as I'm sure you all know. The smaller the company, the more you have to do individually. But we go in. We might sit around the table and argue for an hour over one tiny point. But when we go into the studio and we start to do material whatever that point of argument was completely disappears because of the art of improvisation. Our friends from [Patelly] over here. Because of the art of improvisation, whatever happens at the moment often has so much more validity and so much more excitement and is often so much funnier than what you agonize over in terms of trying to find that joke. So, once we got into the studio and started playing together, the writing process became much easier. Because then we knew what we had to do. So we stopped. We went back and we wrote some more. We go into the studio. We have never known in any of our albums how they ended. Never. And because we're dealing with the concept of plot--here's another point.

The four of us approach our work from a different perspective. David Osman is the plot man. He requires us to have some kind of a form. Gary Burton talked about the roadway. It's the melody. It's a melody line. There has to be a melody line. Along the way you can do all kinds of things. But if you know you're going from point A to point X, or in our case Z squared, you know that you're going to go somewhere. And you write from that point of view. I'm the guy that brings in all kinds of off the wall material. I love to collect bizarre language and things. I bring in funny material and that inspires people to do more stuff. Phil [Awesome] brings in characters and pieces of writing and Peter Bergman is simply the funniest man in the world. He responds to anything and everything that happens, right off the top of his head. He's very, very funny. And we steal all of his material and put it in the album.

So this combination of these minds working together in this wonderful free environment has allowed us to create some absolutely fabulous material. As Michael Rothchild said in Bionomics, individuals that are interacting, sharing and exchanging information in very complex feedback loops allows the concept of organizational learning to resonate and make some sense. So, again, it has to do with--if you're casting seeds on fallow ground nothing is going to grow. But if you're casting seeds and little birds are around there eating it, like we are, it's just great. Okay. I think what I'll do. There's a lot of stuff in here about scheduling. The more I read into this complexity....four guys with families and living in different parts of the world. But we managed to always improvise around everybody's schedule because we could all do it all. We could all do it all. We can direct. We can do sound effects. We can act. Now we do it better when we're together. But if one has to go and do sound effects because somebody has to go away and we can't use them for recording, we can do it. So we don't waste any time. It's called the bucket brigade. Some of you know about the bucket brigade? When Dick Morley was talking about the truck painting, that's the bucket brigade algorithm. Self organizing systems do not require a centralized authority to manage them. Instead, they achieve coordination spontaneously through the adaptive interaction of their component parts. The idea is to keep each worker producing at his full potential while product flows smoothly and continuously.

The bucket brigade algorithm spontaneously figures out where the balance is so that each worker is maximally productive. Well, duh. Isn't that what everybody would like? So that you're not saying he's not doing his part. Son of a bitch. It's one of those things where you really do--you want to kind of feel the joy of the machine interacting and to be able to trust somebody to do something that you just can't do at the moment. And to know that the product, that your goal is going to ultimately manifest in an amusing way. Well, I'm going to play just the last section. I've got about five minutes left. I'm going to play something which I think represents the process of our work. And I hope that I've been able to take you along this journey a little bit. It's so much fun to do and I hope we have a chance to do more of it. I hope that you enjoy this record when it comes out and it stimulates your imagination. We recorded a writing session by chance in our studio work. And it represents the fact that when we go in and start to do something those script pages at the end of that session would be just so scrawled over. It would look like some of the artwork that was put up here. Little arrows and things. But these are our lines. And then we would basically improvise on top of that. So we caught a little bit of the last writing session at the very end of the record. And I'm going to play a selection at the very beginning of the writing section going into the end of the record which is at the millennium and I hope it will speak for itself. Let me just make sure we get to the right number here. And lights down, please, here we go.

[Video plays] [Applause]

Thank you. This is the eyeball hat that you'll be hearing--if you get the record you'll be hearing about. We expect enormous sales of them. Anyway, I want to thank you for this opportunity to share some of the creative process with you and I'd just like to send you out with the old lang signoff about Y2K since Y2K wasn't really well represented here.

Should old computers be destroyed because of bad design, should old PCs be thrown away and Mr. Gates resign, because of Y2K, oh, dear, because of Y2K, we'll know when midnight rolls around, if we're doomed by Y2K, because of Y2K my dears, because of Y2K, you'd best stay home on New Year's Eve because of Y2K. Thank you very much.


© 1997-98 (cristofer morley) All Rights Reserved