– by William Cooper
I grew up in the age of Analog. When it came to entertainment, there was no on-demand. You had to wait for the movie theaters to re-release the thing you wanted to see again or catch it on TV, heavily-edited and gutted by commercials, hoping and praying that you didn’t accidentally miss it or that the power didn’t go out in the middle of it. Otherwise, you had no choice but to rely on the ole pencil and paper game to capture and replay your nerdy memories. Unfortunately, the only objects I could draw were X-wing fighters, TIE fighters, Snoopy sleeping on his back on a doghouse, and the planet Saturn.
Peanuts characters and Star Wars vessels, I get. But Saturn, as the only non-pop-culture icon in my repertoire stands alone, or gently spins alone as the case may be. It’s not even the easiest planet to draw, so where was the attraction? Maybe kids like me loved it because it was so unexpected and comical. It’s an outer space rebel, a loner that does things its own way, a hula-hoop rock star of the gassy outer realms.
Whatever the reason, Saturn appeared on everything, over and over again until my counsellors started to look at me sideways and I decided that drawing wasn’t my forte and writing was. I left behind piles of paper with undecipherable scribblings on them. As the world changed, I became an early adoptor and fell in love with digital and never looked back. Now I stream everything, movies and music and TV and podcasts like this. Heck I’d even stream a stream if I could figure out how to it without getting my bytes wet.
But there is one holdover, one last analog bastion and it is in front of me now, filled with pages of bad penmanship, underlines, exclamation points and doodles that somehow describe the episode you are about to listen to and from which I will pull my summary blurb in less than one paragraph. Because when it comes to figuring something out, lists, straggling ideas, calculations, measurements and general noodling about, I put away my laptop and my high-speed connection and I turn to my small pad and my pencil. Each day, I again leave in my wake piles of paper with undecipherable scribblings on them.
So you see, not much has changed. Oh, the pencil may be a mechanical one and the pads of paper may be ordered from Amazon and delivered to my door within two days, but by the 62 moons of Saturn, the spirit of analog is alive and well!
In this episode we return to our analog roots. After being singled out by the state of Texas, William considers setting up a podcasting hospitality suite in his basement while Scott provides a much-needed After Swirl. Now that’s a REAL podcast! Then we leap into some serious nerding about, digging through the media strata that stretches from a simpler, analog time to the present golden era of digital, stopping frequently at all the crap in-between. William finds some equipment that definitely isn’t cutting age, and shares a story from the archives of his complicated dating life. Or maybe it’s just a story about a temp job as a service animal. It’s all the same to him. Scott provides a media storage history lesson and ponders the ant-like task of continually pushing our content up the hill of changing formats until we break through the Cloud. William does a 720 after Scott brings up his podcasting boyfriend, and before you know it, we shoot for the stars. Scott traces the path of a truck-load of filing cabinets of ancient, unique, suddenly sought-after scientific data on a knee-shattering, Herculean journey that ends at his shed. Are there planets in there? Maybe! Whatever the case, it’s a question of potentially universal, naming-rights significance! William admits that he failed to properly grasp the gravity of the situation, but at least, thanks to some Idle worship, he passed his Astronomy exam. SETI? Folding? Too much Nerding? How about MORE nerding with Sounds from Spaaaace? We pay homage to a reclusive performer known as Dr. Shorn with some contemplative heavy breathing and a visit from the always sexy Cassini spacecraft. Can you say pia07966? Turns out other people could too, but don’t tell Dr. Shorn. Take a trip to Shed Planet with us, we’ve got Aimee Mann on MiniDisc!