Taking a Break from Commentaries

I’ve been a voice on the Cultdom Collective Commentaries for five years. Early on in Cultdom’s run, Ian and Dave started doing commentaries in addition to the weekly live shows. They did commentaries on some Chris Eccleston episodes of Doctor Who, then I expressed interest in joining them. My first episode was “The Eleventh Hour”, which was also the first episode of the Steven Moffat era of Doctor Who. I wanted to be more involved with the Cultdom Collective. (Although, looking through the Cultdom archives, the first studio episode I was on was was an episode discussing the idea of “spin-off TV series”, along with Ian, Dave, and Merlin.

The Commentaries were fun. Our staple was Doctor Who, as that was the show that tied all of Cultdom Collective together. We did commentaries on new episodes the same weekend they aired, recording the commentaries that Sunday night. When Doctor Who wasn’t on the air, we’d turn to other shows. Sometimes we’d work on filling in the back catalog of BBC Wales-era Doctor Who, carrying on from the end of series one. In the years since I joined, we’ve done commentaries on the pilot episode of Breaking Bad, all of Better Call Saul’s first season, the entirety of the BBC series “Jekyll” (although I did not appear on those commentaries), all of the original BBC series “Life On Mars” (as opposed to the American iteration of the show), all episodes of the BBC series “Luther”, the pilot episode of the failed “Mockingbird Lane” show, all episodes of BBC’s “Sherlock”, one episode of the original Star Trek (“This Side of Paradise”, done in honor of Leonard Nimoy), and a collection of episodes of Doctor Who’s original run (mainly done to follow BBC America’s “Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited” series to celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary). We’ve done a lot of commentaries. I even invited Ian and Dave on to a special episode of Marble Operator on which we commented over the first “season” of Marble Hornets.

Recent circumstances, however, are forcing me to take a break from recording commentaries. It was unfortunately timed, though, as my final episode, for now, is the first episode of the Doctor Who three-parter, “The Two Doctors”. Even if circumstances hadn’t changed, though, I’d be taking a break, as the new series of Doctor Who is scheduled to start on 19 September. After participating on the commentary for the last episode of series 8 (whose title I can’t remember (“Death in Heaven”, Wikipedia tells me)), I’ve lost all interest in even watching any more of the utter shit that passes as Doctor Who under Steven Moffat, as I’ve well documented in the past. I’d love to still participate in commentaries, but that would require me to watch these upcoming episodes, and I just have no interest in doing that. Another reason I planned on not participating on these episodes was that I am perhaps too critical and too negative of the Moffat era. I hate what he’s done to the once-brilliant show. I hate his style of writing. I hate how he repeats ideas (and for people who argue against that, River Song is returning on this year’s Xmas special). A good commentary can’t have too much negativity. I feel that all my bitching would just drag our commentaries too far down. My criticisms would make the commentaries terrible to listen to. (Although now I wish I could participate, so I could present some criticisms to balance out the probably praises of the new episodes)

This means the commentaries will be down to Ian and Dave. Thing is, they prefer having a three-person format for the commentaries, with the occasional fourth person. There is now an open seat for the commentaries, if any Cultdom regulars would like to join in. I’ve been invited back on whenever I want, since I’m part of the Cultdom Commentary Trio, though.

Anyway, this blog post is just to say that, since I have no quiet space in which to do Skype calls for the commentaries, I have to sit out for now. If not for that, I would be out for a while anyway due to my lack of interest in Doctor Who series nine. Either way, I look forward to when I can once again be part of the Cultdom Commentaries.

Super Awesome Fun Time With Rand 27: The Legend of Curly’s Gold

Here’s a playlist for my 27th sound collage. I should make these playlists more often, so I can keep track of what I’ve used in a particular collage.

“Maps” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“The World Spins” by Julee Cruise
Excerpt from “The Sound of Rain Needs No Translation”, Alan Watts
“Chase” Instrumental, by Giorgio Moroder, from Midnight Express soundtrack (also the Coast to Coast AM intro theme)
“Eight Doing the Dishes”, poem by Jeane Lohman
“An Ending (Ascent)” from “Apollo”, by Brian Eno
“Funky Chimes” from Sesame Street
“Mothersbaugh’s Canon” by Mark Mothersbaugh from The Royal Tenenbaums
“Weathered Stone” by Aphex Twin
“You’re So Cool” clip from True Romance, and You’re So Cool theme by Hans Zimmerman
Local amateur radio net recording, 31 May, 2015
“Back on the Chain Gang” by the Pretenders
“Radioactivity” by Kraftwerk
“Your Hand in Mine” by Explosions in the Sky
“Ghosts of Future Lost” by Clint Mansell, from Requiem For a Dream soundtrack
Clear Lakes 44 theme, from Broadcast #1
“White Blur” by Aphex Twin
“The Smallest Weird Number” by Boards of Canada
“Games People Play” by Joe South
“He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” a poem by William Butler Yeats
“A Lotta Love” by Nicolette Larson

Reviving Marble Operator

The THAC guys have started their new series, which will be posted to the Marble Hornets YouTube channel. The series, which has been mentioned as following the events of Marble Hornets but not necessarily involving the previous series, now has an official name: Clear Lakes 44. The YouTube channel has been renamed to reflect this. The THAC guys have stressed that Clear Lakes 44 is its own series and doesn’t require any knowledge of Marble Hornets in order to enjoy, and that they are posting it to the Marble Hornets channel in order to reach and maintain the audience from their original series.

Marble Operator is a podcast that I started in mid-2011 to discuss the Marble Hornets series. Back then there were no on-going Marble Hornets fan podcasts, and I wanted to hear discussion in an audio format, having been a reader and somewhat-active member of the UnFiction Forums’ Marble Hornets section. I had found one podcast, Slender Nation, but that podcast had been discontinued (indeed, as I type this, the last episode posted was from March of 2011, many months before I even had the idea for my own podcast). Marble Operator was a weekly live discussion about Marble Hornets, in which we analyzed new Entries, new totheark videos, and theorized about the plot and characters. We covered new Entries and totheark videos as they were released, but also carried on an ongoing discussion of previous videos in order, starting with Introduction.

However, once we were caught up with Marble Hornets, we had empty weeks with nothing new to discuss. During these empty weeks, since we still wanted to do new episodes, we looked to other Slender Man-based YouTube serials to cover. We first went to TribeTwelve, another popular series. This coverage eventually led us to interviewing Adam Rosner, the creator of TribeTwelve (an interview I had to post in two parts due to TalkShoe’s file upload size limit).

There have been two other Slender Man series that we’ve picked up for the same reason, those being Dark Harvest and Andersen Journals. We’ve managed to interview Chris, the creator of Dark Harvest.

Throughout Marble Operator’s original run, I received numerous suggestions and requests to cover the YouTube series EverymanHYBRID. While I’m a fan of that series, I could never work out a way to easily cover everything involved, as that series spans numerous channels and accounts across many social media networks (such as YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, and so on).

However, the original run of Marble Operator came to a rather abrupt halt last July, when Marble Hornets ,the series that started the podcast in the first place, officially ended. With that series gone, it looked as though all motivation from other series’ creators to do new episodes of their own stuff dried up; we weren’t getting new content from TribeTwelve, Andersen Journals, or Dark Harvest, or even EverymanHYBRID. There was new content, it was just extremely rare. We had no new material to merit new Marble Operator episodes. The craze had ended, now that the series that inspired it all had ended.

Very shortly after Marble Hornets had ended, Troy Wagner of THAC told fans on the THAC posdcast to not unsubscribe from the Marble Hornets channel, that there would be new content posted at some point. While not our first hint of a new series (the original announcement had been as a stretch goal on their MH season 3 DVD Kickstarter), it was confirmation of where they would be posting the series. Speculation had begun about what this new series would be about, and what connection, if any, it would have to Marble Hornets.

The code-name for the new project would be revealed in February of 2015 on the Marble Hornets twitter page, with a tweet that read simply, “44”. That’s all we had to go on, but it was new activity on the MH twitter feed, which had been inactive since the series had ended. What did this 44 mean? Fan speculation continued at this, as people pored over old Entries, looking for instances of “44”. Alex Kralie, a central character in Marble Hornets, was born on April 4th, for instance. Entry 26 featured a timestamp of 4:04pm. A late-series Entry featured 44 as a channel logo on some TV news footage. There was an Entry #44.

There were other events that led up to the first new series video, which was posted in early August of 2015. These events included an official Marble Hornets website, which would gradually reveal new content and clues, including links to new videos posted to the Marble Hornets YouTube channel. Then in early August, it began, with Clear Lakes 44 Broadcast #1 uploaded. Broadcast #2 was posted later in the week, with Broadcast #3 uploaded that following weekend while the THAC guys were away at a convention. The new series had officially begun.

This led me to consider the Marble Operator podcast. The last episode I’d done was when Marble Hornets ended back in 2014. Since then, life had happened, my cohosts had gone their own ways, we no longer spoke, and so on. There was no way I’d get everyone back at the same time for a conference call to record new content. If I wanted to do new episodes, it would have to be on my own.

(On a side note: I’m fully aware that we never covered the “Always Watching” movie, which we really should have, given that the Marble Hornets guys wrote it. Maybe someday we’ll cover that)

Anyway, I started recording new episodes. I discussed events leading up to Clear Lakes 44 Broadcast #1. I discussed the ideas of the new series, and what we’ve been told to expect. I’d revived Marble Operator.

In the time since, I’ve heard from two cohosts, and talked about availability and if we could record new episodes together. Details are still being worked out, but it looks possible. I would like to have my co-hosts back to discuss Clear Lakes 44.

As I’ve been typing this, I’ve remembered that I’ve not done episodes to discuss the new content from TribeTwelve and DarkHarvest, both of which have updated since the end of Marble Hornets. I’ll work on that, as well.

More to come.

Just DXing Around

Now that summer is officially upon us here in the northern hemisphere, I’ve gone back to DXing, which is the hobby of receiving and identifying distant radio or television signals, or making two way radio contact with distant stations in amateur radio, citizens’ band radio or other two way radio communications. As I do not yet have any sort of ham radio license, I’m simply doing the former, with my Tecsun PL-660 radio. Each night, around midnight, I’ve been switching off my laptop and wireless router (in order to eliminate crosstalk from such devices), and switching on my shortwave radio.

Anyway, one feature of the PL-660 (and any similar radio worth a damn) is the ability to store stations in memory, for quick access. Whenever I find a radio at night that comes in clearly, I store it in memory. I keep meaning to look up these stations and learn more about them, but I keep forgetting. Here, I will do just that. Let’s scroll through what I have stored in my radio’s memory.

Before that, let’s note some useful sites. Radio Shack still has their own shortwave radio station list. Don’t know when it was last updated, though. Klingenfuss has an updated 2015 list of shortwave stations. HFRadio has a useful list. However, my favorite resource is Short-Wave Info.

First we have 3215kHz. This looks to be a WWCR frequency (WorldWide Christian Radio). A lot of the stations I find while DXing are religious broadcasts (mainly Christian ministry shows), actually. WWCR is based in Nashville, TN, and uses four 100 kW transmitters to broadcast on four frequencies. Nothing here that interests me, just a station that I hear clearly at night.

Next is 4765 kHz. I’m finding two possible identities for this frequency, depending on the time you listen. It could be either R.Emissora de Educao Rural from Santarem, Brazil (meaning the station broadcasts in Portuguese) or Radio Progreso from Quivican, Cuba (broadcasts in Spanish), or Tajik Radio 1 on Voice of Russia from Dushanbe-Yangiyul, Tajikistan. What is on that frequency depends on the time of day.

Next is 4840, which I don’t even need to look up to tell you is another WWCR frequency. They broadcast Alex Jones late at night. Shortwave Info lists some other stations on that frequency from around the world, but I only ever hear WWCR.

5000 kHz and 10000 kHz (or just 10 MHz) are the same broadcast: at least in this region, I hear the current universal time. The 5000 kHz is WWV. WWV Broadcasts National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) time and frequency signals from a location near Fort Collins, Colorado. WWV uses a male voice. (There’s also WWVH. WWVH Broadcasts National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) time and frequency signals from a site near Kekaha at Kokole Point on the Island of Kauai, Hawaii. WWVH uses a female voice.) It’s useful for making sure my radio’s clock has the correct time displayed. (On a side note, you can call the US Atomic Clock and hear the time at +1-202-762-1401)

Next is 5085 kHz. This is WTWW (We Transmit WorldWide), based in Lebanon, TN. Looks like this is another Christian ministry. Primetime Shortwave lists this as “Overcomer Ministry”.

Next is 5920 kHz. What I’m getting at that frequency is WHRI, World Harvest Radio International (a troubling definition to be sure). This station, which broadcasts conservative religious programming, is based in Cypress Creek, SC.

Next is 6000 kHz. This is Radio Havana Cuba, RHC. This station is run by the Cuban government. I’m told they broadcast some great music, but I’ve never been able to catch any of that.

Next is 9570 kHz. This is China Radio International. At certain times of the day, they broadcast in English, otherwise in Chinese. Broadcasts from Beijing.

Next is 3990 kHz. This is Gannan, a Tibetan station broadcasting from Hezuo in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in southern Gansu province in Western China.

I have 18860 kHz stored in my radio’s memory, but none of these sites give any information on that frequency. Maybe my storing it there was a fluke, as I only ever hear static there.

This next is on the AM band (MW), and is 1190 kHz. At this time, during the day, I’m only hearing static, but Wikipedia has a long list of possibilities.

Then I have 650 kHz (MW) stored, and this is WSM, a station based in Nashville, TN, that plays classic country tunes.

Next is 700 kHz (MW), and is WLW, based in Cincinnati, OH. Back in the 1930s, this station broadcasted at 500kW of radiated power, and covered half the globe at night. At that time, people who lived in the vicinity reportedly heard the station through all manner of non-radio devices, including pots, pans, and mattresses. If there’s any genesis for the idea of hearing radio stations in teeth braces, this would be it. (They no longer are powered at that level, thankfully) Let’s go back to the shortwave frequencies.cHI

Moving on, we have 3843 kHz, which is home to the Patriot Hams. In other words, this is the KD8QED-L Echolink Node 274998 2m simplex 146.555, based in Winchester, Ohio. I don’t hear much from them anymore, but they are entertaining to listen to when they go live in the evenings. They sometimes have to put up with people trolling the frequency.

Then I have 7520 kHz. This is All India Radio, broadcasting from Delhi.

Next is 7570 kHz, which is Family Radio, broadcasting from Okeechobee County, Florida. This broadcasts in both English and Japanese.

Next is 9420, which is Helliniki Radiophonia, a Greek station. (Another station on this frequency is Islamic Rep. Iran, broadcasting from Zahedan, Iran)

Last is 7730 kHz, which is another Overcomer Ministry station.

That’s all I have for now.


I’ve got some more frequencies to log. I was scanning the 41, 31, and 25 meter bands last night, and added a lot of new frequencies. Here we go.

Starting with 3915 kHz, which is actually a BBC frequency, broadcasting from Singapore.

5830 kHz is Radio Free Asia, broadcasting from Tinian Island, though what I was picking up was probably another WTWW frequency (which broadcasts from Lebanon, TN). (There is a BBC station that broadcasts from Nakhon Sawan)

6175 kHz is another China Radio International station, as is 7405 kHz.

7455 kHz is Radio Free Asia.

9330 kHz is listed as two things. What I heard was WBCQ (again), but this is also listed as a Cuban Spy Numbers station.

9395 kHz is active even now at mid-day, and is RMI, Tru News/R. Paradise, broadcasting from Okeechobee.

9515 kHz is a lot of things, but what I heard was probably another China Radio International. KBS World Radio, Voice of Turkey, and Pan American BC also broadcast here.

9530 kHz is Radio Transmundial, broadcasting from Santa Maria-Camobi.

9660 kHz is Vatican Radio.

China Radio International returns again at 9710 kHz.

9730 kHz is, among other things, Voice of Vietnam. It’s also China Radio International and Radio Romania International.

9790 kHz is Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, along with China Radio International (again), and Radio France International.

9955 kHz is RMI, with a really long list of programming (looks to be mainly Christian ministry stuff).

9975 kHz, which I’m hearing stuff on right now, is Radio Free Asia, KTWR Guam, but what I’m hearing now is KVOH International Missions Fellowship.

11670 kHz is All India Radio.

11780 kHz is Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. (Could also be China Radio International. Again)

11800 kHz is Radio Romania International. Could also be a French BBC station, but unlikely that I heard that.

11840 kHz is Adventist World Radio.

Friday Night Quiz Masters

If you miss Radio Free Caemlyn’s Friday Night Trivia, no worries, because Jeff The7thDoctor has started his own series.

Friday Night Quiz Masters carries on the tradition that I started in early 2010 on the Radio Free Caemlyn podcast. It’s the same formula: trivia questions, shenanigans among participants, and whoever wins gets the option of hosting the following week.

Thank you to Jeff for carrying on with Trivia after I’d lost all interest in doing so. I missed the first episode, but do plan on participating in future episodes. It will be odd, though, not being the one running the show, not being “Lord Quizmaster”.

On Ending Friday Night Trivia

Friday Night Trivia is a weekly show that I do for my Radio Free Caemlyn podcast. I started Friday Night Trivia back in early February of 2010 as a way of having something to do on a Friday night, as I had (and still have) no social life. It started off as a combination of Doctor Who trivia and word puzzles, and has become a weekly social event that a dedicated group of people look forward to each weekend.

So why would I bring something like this to an end, something that has become more than just about trivia, but a weekly social event?

Well, I’ve been considering ending trivia for a while. I want to change over to a conversation show. During our pre-shows, we have a lot of fun discussions on a lot of topics. These discussions are never recorded, and thus lost to the ether as soon as they are had. I want those to be the podcast, I want those to be the show. Trivia is fun and all, but…

Trivia has been fun. We’ve done nearly 200 episodes over nearly five years. As the saying goes, though, all good things must come to an end.

Trivia has run its course. It’s tired. It’s time to move on. It’s about moving on.

UPDATE (081202.2014): It’s been a month since I ended Friday Night Trivia. Since then, I’ve tried doing Radio Free Caemlyn Live shows, where conversations are the focus, but those proved unpopular. Everyone who showed up just wanted to go back to the trivia format. People wanted that gimmick to return. I still feel that the trivia format is limiting, and is something that has run its course. I have no plans of ever bringing trivia back. If someone else wants to run their own version of Friday Night Trivia, go right ahead. I’m sure they’ll end up on TalkShoe. (That’s something else: I tried my damnedest to move Trivia away from TalkShoe. I don’t like hosting Trivia shows there, the site is cumbersome and limiting. My preferred method would be to do Skype calls and broadcast that over Mixlr)

Anyway, 21 November was the final episode of Radio Free Caemlyn Live, where not that many people showed up. The following Friday was the Friday following Thanksgiving, here in the states, so I didn’t do a live show. This past Friday was the first Friday where I just didn’t do a Friday night show. Personally, I prefer not doing Friday night shows, as it gives me more time to rest. Even if I were still doing Friday nights shows, December is a busy month to even consider doing that. As for Trivia…the format was no longer fun; I was no longer enjoying Friday Night Trivia. Realizing that was the case, I decided it was better to end Trivia than let it decay and die due to a host that no longer loved the format.

There is still some confusion with Dave, whether he wants to run trivia. Others, if any of them want to start and run their own weekly Friday trivia show, go right ahead. I won’t be joining.

I’ve compiled all episodes of Trivia into their own RSS feed, which you can find here.