This is an audio file of a prank call that was anonymously emailed to me.
About a year ago I made one of my favorite stupid projects to date, the J.D. Amato Soundboard. I thought it was a hilarious idea to use a soundboard of myself to make “prank” calls. The joke being that by using a soundboard of my own voice I was eliminating all of the “prank” from the concept of a soundboard prank call.
I tailored the audio of the soundboard to be useful for a single specific phone call I wanted to make to my friend Blake asking if he wanted to hang out. Then I made the soundboard, called Blake with a few friends, and posted the video online. It was a weird experience and it left me with a sour taste in my mouth. You can read all about that in a post from my old blog.
Anywho. I left the soundboard online and a few things happened:
My coworkers at VH1 used it to awkwardly prank another co-worker my first week on the job.
Numerous people have used it to prank call my phone.
People have anonymously sent me audio of them pranking people named Blake. Often the same Blake that I originally called.
The audio above fits into the latter part of option three. Apparently my friend Blake had received numerous calls around the time this first went up… only a few of which were anonymously emailed to me.
As much as I feel bad for Blake and as much as this was an enormously stupid project, there is a part of me that still thinks it’s cool to see the waves of something I created being used outside of my control. It’s probably a close relative of the feeling architects experience when they visit a completed project years later or the surge of pride a marine biologist gets when the tracking beacon on their dolphin sounds off for the first time (and by close cousin, I mean the dropout loser cousin who puts video games on his resume).
Well, I hope you enjoy. In advance, sorry to Blake because when I repost this it usually means he gets a call or two. Also in advance, please stop calling me with my own soundboard.
Obscure Youtube: Four Grandfathers Telling Four Stories
Many people may not know (especially if you didn’t frequent my blog during college) that one my serious unironic hobbies is collecting obscure and otherwise unseen videos on youtube. One of the beautiful advantages of the internet is its ability to show you places, people, stories, and worlds that you would otherwise not see. Furthermore, it’s one of the truest forms of documentation because the person doing the recording is usually a stable piece of the environment they are capturing. You aren’t seeing an outsider effect the subject— everything is the subject.
For today’s collection, I’ve gathered four videos of users’ grandfathers telling stories. Every person has their own particular way of telling a story— especially stories that they’ve told many times. Sit back and listen to four stories that you will likely never hear in person from people you will likely never meet:
The Overly Talkative Car Washer:
Castrating The Enemy:
The Kindness of An Irish Dad:
The Right Age For Disneyland
Not necessarily the best stories or the most interesting, but four stories you probably would otherwise have not heard from four people you probably would otherwise have not ever seen.
Recently I have begun the process of recalibrating my creative duty. I’ve spent the last year studying comedy (specifically improv) at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and for the past year I have been in pure “absorption” mode. My role has been as a student. I’ve spent all of my time learning and slurping up every piece of wisdom and experience from anyone who would provide it. It’s a comfortable feeling because it feels like most of my time starting at NYU: focusing on hearing the expert opinions around me and learning from the current trailblazers as they try and fail to be the new experts. However, I’ve realized that I have hit the end up the pure learning phase and now I need to start my creative process again. I will still be actively learning, but now on top of learning and absorbing I need to start creating and failing on my own projects again. I need to add “make stuff” to the queue of commands in my head which currently just contains “learn stuff” and “basic human functions”.
As I consciously attempt to recalibrate my headspace I’ve been weirdly fixated on the early fathers of cinema. Particularly, the Lumière Brothers, Thomas Edison, Charles-Émile Reynaud, Eadweard Muybridge and the filmmakers they were all able to endow with their technology— the most prominent in my fixation being Georges Méliès.
Georges Méliès is the father of modern spectacle filmmaking. You probably know his work even if you didn’t know you did. You know that famous film that stands to exemplify the early days of film where the rocket gets shot into the moon and the moon has a face. That’s Méliès.
But the interesting thing about Méliès is that film was just an outlet for his creativity and ultimately it didn’t work out for him— despite the fact that he might be one of the most influential filmmakers in the (short) history of cinema.
Georges Méliès was a stage magician. Then, when he saw what the Lumière Brothers were doing he decided he needed to get in on this whole “moving picture” club and he started a small studio where he would make films. He made literally hundreds of films. Hundreds. His films were all magic tricks and new developments in cinema. Some were successes and some were failures, but at the end of the day you couldn’t get a camera out of the guy’s hands. In fact, almost every special effect you see today can be traced back to one of Méliès’ experiments. He just had these crazy ideas and he spent his life trying to execute them. If you have a minute, I suggest you comb through youtube and check out some of his work. Here, I’ll make it easy for you— just start here.
I guess that’s where I want to be right now: just executing ideas for the sake of trying them. Of course I’m not in the position Méliès was and I’m certainly not creating the foundation of cinema, but we are only one hundred and fifteen years into the creation of film. So in the grand scheme of things we are all just cave painters right now. But this is where I’m at right now as I get back into “create” mode.
Also, I don’t know what this says about where I’m at— but the epilogue to the Méliès story is pretty bleak: He eventually went bankrupt and became a toy salesman. No joke. That sounds ridiculous, right? Even more ridiculous is the fact that after retiring from filmmaking the French army came along and melted down a majority of his films so that they could make boot heels! Before his death he did receive many accolades from his country and peers for his many contributions to film— so luckily he was around long enough to be appreciated. But, yeah. Boot heels. Jesus Christ.