Ep. 62 – Chat With Chewbode: Part 1 (From The Swamp)

What the heck is a Chewbode? According to Urban Dictionary, it’s a style of bed and breakfast where you can actually EAT THE BED for breakfast. And in some countries it’s HOTDOG flavored. But it’s also the name of my longest-term friend and creative collaborator.

Support this Show on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/carlking

In this multi-episode conversation, we tell the story of our 33-year friendship — from riding the school bus as teenagers, to dressing up in business suits and selling a fake invention in New York City. This is the story of two smart, creative kids who met in the swamps of South Venice, Florida, and made plans to escape. Part one begins now.

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Dale Lewis Needs A Mobility Scooter

Chew On This: Chewbode’s Blog

Ep 62 With CHEWBODE!


Very Good Friends of Carl King, you might notice this is an AUDIO-ONLY episode. And that’s because I had to take an unexpected trip to Florida last week, but I promise this episode will be a good one. Because I will be joined by CHEWBODE. 

But first, an important announcement: Some of you might remember the Sir Millard Mulch cover of “Come Sale Away” on the How To Sell Album. Well, the lead vocals on it were performed by my very good friend from music college, Dale Lewis. Dale is suffering from serious health problems, and we are raising the funds to get him a mobility scooter. He has devoted his life to helping others, and now he needs our help. So if you can spare a few bucks, I am putting a GoFundMe link in the show notes. Thank you. 

And now, let’s move on to this week’s episodic episode of the week. With CHEWBODE. 

What the heck is a Chewbode? According to Urban Dictionary, it’s a style of bed and breakfast where you can actually EAT THE BED for breakfast. And in some countries it’s HOTDOG flavored. But it’s also the name of my longest-term friend and creative collaborator. 

In one way or another, Chewbode has been involved in everything I’ve made… when I’ve gone by Carl King, Sir Millard Mulch, and Dr. Zoltan. As far back as designing the cassette J-card for my first demo tape, all the way through to story-editing my latest animated pilot. In this multi-episode conversation, we tell the story of our 33-year friendship — from riding the school bus as teenagers, to dressing up in business suits and selling a fake invention in New York City. This is the story of two smart, creative kids who met in the swamps of South Venice, Florida, and made plans to escape. Part one begins now. 


CK: All right. I am here with Chewbode. Say hello, Mr. Chewbode. 

Chewbode: Hello Mr. Chewbode. 

CK: Let’s go back to how we first met. I think it was in 1990. I was, I believe, 15 years old in 10th grade. That was the same year as Desert Storm and also Steve Vai’s Passion and Warfare record. The first time I went to your house, your parents’ house where you lived with your parents, because we were kids, from what I recall, you were trying to beam an image into space as some sort of science experiment, and I remember being very confused and shocked that this kid was doing this, and you had all these electronics in your bedroom wired together in some weird way. Can you explain what the heck you were doing? 

Chewbode: Yeah. Well, maybe not, but I’ll try. Being a person that learned using computers when computers were very basic in their infancy, there was a natural tendency for me to get to understand things like capacitors and circuit boards and things like that, and I was no expert, obviously. It was just the tinkering around with stuff, but I kind of got it. And that led me down the road of tearing other stuff apart eventually, including quote-unquote “bad television sets” that I would stumble across. 

CK: In your mom’s living room or whatever. 

Chewbode: Right. 

CK: “I guess the TV’s not working anymore.” 

Chewbode: Right, yeah. And so, at the time, I had a couple of these TVs that had stripped down and there was just the tube and the electron gun, which painted the picture onto the screen for those of you out there that know that. These devices, these electron guns that are in the back of a television are super high voltage and they can kill you if you’re not careful. Huge capacitor storing a huge amount of energy, and you do the wrong thing, you short something out with a screwdriver, you’re toast, right? Luckily I know what I’m kind of doing and I’m being careful. 

CK: But you were how old? You’re like 16. 

Chewbode: But yeah, I think it was around 16 or so. There was a way you could actually essentially make this high-powered laser device by retuning this electron gun that’s back there and have it point in a different direction, and it required removing this big coil of wire and repositioning it. I had that physically working and it would actually burn holes in balloons and pop them and stuff, and I actually was using technically sheets of paper. Literally set the smoke alarm off a couple times. I got in trouble for that. My parents were not very happy with that. 

But what you remember seeing was there was a project at one point where someone surmised the viability of taking an image and shining it from the outside world into the TV screen and having the electron gun that normally creates the image, read the image. So it’s in a way kind of like a Xerox machine where there’s a glass piece that is reading an image and you could then transmit it out the back side if you had rebuilt the back end, which I kind of had done this. 

CK: Basically just using a TV backwards. 

Chewbode: Kind of using a TV backwards. But the beauty was you were transmitting … By the way, I just want to say, I have no idea if this broke any FCC laws or anything or how bad this was an idea. I was a kid, really, and I was just having fun learning the stuff. No one ever knocked on my door but probably was not a healthy thing to be playing with all this stuff, but I really learned a lot and it got me really interested. And the fundamental takeaway of all this is I was always the kind of kid that didn’t just take a television apart to learn how the knobs in a TV worked but I said, “What the heck else can we convert this into?” Out-of-the-box, kind of fun thinking, like things that hopefully no one else had ever thought of before. 

CK: Now, the reason we met is when we were in high school, we were some of the only kids in town who had computers. In 1990, in the pre-internet days, there were these things called BBSs, which stood for bulletin board systems, and they were a way for nerdy kids like us to use our old-fashioned telephones to dial into various computers and meet each other and post messages. But it wasn’t a thing that normal, everyday people did. It was like using computers for this was kind of a secret subculture. So, I needed some of those secret phone numbers to dial and I was told that, “Oh, he’s the guy to talk to.” 

Chewbode: Yeah, it was kind of like a speakeasy password, right? It’s like you didn’t get to know these things unless you knew somebody that knew these phone numbers. They weren’t published really anywhere. If you were lucky, you would dial into a BBS and it would be nice enough to publish other people’s BBS numbers for you, but typically it was a, “Hey, I got a buddy that knows these three numbers; jot them down and see if you can connect to these systems and see how cool they are,” and that’s kind of how word got about. You and I interacted that way and I gave you off some numbers so that you could do some calling around and see what was out there. 

CK: So, the cool thing was, was that kind of primitive computer technology gave us an escape from that isolated, backwoods environment that we were stuck in, and it turned out that we realized, “Oh, we actually live right by each other,” and we were probably I think maybe a third of a mile or so from each other. It was definitely tolerable walking distance in Florida. It wasn’t pleasant to walk that far, but we became friends and we lived in South Venice, Florida. Now, South Venice, it was pretty jungly, and it still is. It’s near this thing called Alligator Creek and Chewbode and I lived on opposite sides of Alligator Creek. And Alligator Creek had a small bridge going across it that you could walk across, and the bridge was pretty small, maybe like two car lengths long, or three car lengths. You’d walk over this bridge and there was water underneath it and there were alligators in it. It was very muddy. So if you imagine living in Florida, you might think, “Oh, beautiful beaches and stuff.” This was very, very dark water, lots of mud, insects. 

Chewbode: You wouldn’t want to go in that water. 

CK: No. You don’t want to be thrown in that water. You don’t want to end up in there. It was very dark brown, muddy, disgusting water. South Venice was very uncivilized back then. There were a lot of empty lots, and there still are, but there were original palmettos and pine trees and it was just basically like jungle. A lot of it just had not been developed. It’s just lots full of weeds and trees and vines hanging all over the place. Lots of raccoons and possums. So this is kind of like the country in some ways. 

Chewbode: Yeah, and I think it’s interesting to note, too, that this area was very close to the Gulf of Mexico from the beach and water. 

CK: Yes, it was, actually. Like as the crow flies or what is that … like it’s actually-

Chewbode: Like a mile maybe. 

CK: It was even closer than that, I think. Lots of sweat. Just lots of bugs and lots of sweating. There’s no sidewalks in our neighborhood. You just basically walk either on the street or you walk in the weeds on the side of the street. We were kind of far from civilization, almost like in a swamp, and it was basically super old people who never left their houses or redneck types, and to get to the nearest store, we had to walk about a mile to the farm store, where you could get a Mountain Dew or some Slim Jims and then you’d have to walk a mile back, and it was pretty crappy to walk that far in Florida. So, you don’t see too many people walking in Florida unless they’ve got problems or financial difficulties that force them to be walking. 

Chewbode: With all of the overgrownness and issues with storms from time to time washing things out, you’re walking in the street going from … like I’d go to your house and I’d walk in the street and sometimes I have a book bag or some piece of-

CK: I remember you would carry a computer monitor with you. 

Chewbode: Yeah, stuff like that. 

CK: Like the big … what is it called, a CRT?

Chewbode: Yeah. 

CK: Giant CRT monitor with you. 

Chewbode: Yep. And yeah, so I’d be … carry those kinds of things down the street and I’d round the corner and there’s the bridge, and the bridge was actually kind of the strange, cattywampus kind of way it’s designed, so there’s blind corners walking to it, so you’re just praying this car doesn’t come around the corner and kill you or an alligator comes out of that muck and tries to chase you or whatever. So, it wasn’t super, super dangerous but this was just a lack of infrastructure and how messy it was, and no one cared because who the heck should be walking outside anyway, because it’s so hot and sweaty, so-

CK: Yeah, you just don’t expect anybody to be out there walking on the bridge, so when you speed around the corner, it’s like, “Whoa, there’s somebody there.” 

Chewbode: Exactly. 

CK: We came from kind of the middle of nowhere and there wasn’t much art or culture around us, and it was kind of like a depressed, low-energy small town. I don’t think there was much future for us unless we just invented it ourselves, and that’s kind of what we did. We were just forced to invent a future, because there was … I don’t think there was a clear path forward for creative kids like us. 

Chewbode: No. And I think that the town in general was just kind of anti-kids. When you guys were putting bands together and going out and playing gigs and stuff locally, I would go out there and I would see how people will just be like, “Absolutely don’t want these kids playing in this venue.” 

CK: Well, there really were no venues. It was either like-

Chewbode: Well that too. Yeah. 

CK: It was like you’re playing in a backyard or something, or whatever, or in a-

Chewbode: And of course they’re going to call the cops because it’s too noisy or whatever, so it wasn’t friendly to the youth from that perspective, which made it even kind of more depressing that you had to look inward instead of trying to get the community to get behind you, and you get involved in some sort of great system of activities locally. Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. You had to make it happen yourself. 

CK: Exactly. I mean, the options were pretty bleak and if we didn’t somehow go to college, it was either working at Walmart of a gas station or washing dishes. There was no fine art community that was welcoming us in. There was no guidance, like, “Hey, smart, creative kid, we’ve got a place for you to fit in.” And our parents and teachers pretty much had no idea what to do with us. So, if I were to ask 16-year-old Chewbode, “What do you want to do with your life?” what do you think you would have said back then? 

Chewbode: Wow, great question. When I was in school in Michigan, I had taken a bunch of courses in my freshman year of high school and I kind of wanted to be a surgeon, actually, believe it or not. That was something that it was interesting to me, it was a technical thing. My mind leans towards technical things with spurts of creativity. 

CK: But I can also see why you’d be interested in surgery, because you’re into looking at micro … What’s the-

Chewbode: Little microcosms of things-

CK: Microcosms, yeah. That’s the term you use. You like models and tiny little shrunken-down things with-

Chewbode: Exactly, yeah. And so that was something that I thought … when I was a kid it was kind of something I toyed with. Ever since I was about eight or so, I … 

CK: Started cutting people? 

Chewbode: Yeah. No, I was … My dad had run a business, a cleaning business out of the home, and around that time, this was in the mid to early ’80s, he had to get a computer. For those in the know, our old Commodore 64 we got, and I started to learn how to program on it, because my dad wasn’t using the computer 24/7. So I would get in there and snipe some time and goof around on it, and I started learning how to do some real rudimentary computer programming. 

CK: Can I ask real quick, the reason I had to get into programming at a young age is because we didn’t have any games, and you had to write the game to play it on a TRS-80. Were you doing a similar thing? 

Chewbode: That was the entryway into it, yeah. My experience was to kind of understand what this crazy beige box did, period. It made weird noises and you’d insert disks and eject disks and all these kinds of things, but the reality was, the only real way to get stuff is either if you had the money to go buy a game, which, I’m a little kid, I didn’t have money to go do that, and my dad wasn’t interested in turning his business computer into a gaming computer, was you get a magazine from a corner store, maybe a farm store or 7-Eleven even, you take it home and you open up the book and it’s got this 40, 50, maybe even 100-line program and you sit tediously typing that into the computer and then you hit “run” and it runs the game, and it doesn’t last. Once you turn off the power of the computer, the game goes away. 

CK: Right, the game’s gone. You have to retype the video game in to make it actually work. Amazing. 

Chewbode: Yeah, so there was a lot of this repetition and learning things because of that, and it kind of helps make it stick and that ultimately helps you appreciate the coding, the aspect of coding. Even as a little kid, I was appreciating, “Wow, this takes a long time to do. Imagine if I actually had to create the game from scratch.” I just am copying it out of a book, so there’s no brainpower in that really, but it still takes forever, and I was kind of wowed by that. 

So, the 16-year-old Chewbode has this in his back pocket where he’s kind of learned stuff since he was a little kid, writing little programs and stuff like that, and doing stuff, so laid out in front of me was, “I’m going to try to be a surgeon and that’s what I’m going for.” I moved to Florida and all my transcripts transferred down with me, and all the courses I had taken that were these advanced classes and stuff in Michigan, they didn’t exist in Florida because the crap hole of Florida is- 

CK: Florida is a bunch of dummies. 

Chewbode: Yeah. Well, it was just they had a- 

CK: It just wasn’t as advanced, yeah. 

Chewbode: It was a crappy system in comparison, right? I would take classes that were a biology class in Michigan and I got down here and they gave me an Algebra 1 credit because they just couldn’t even tie it to something. And so I kind of got really mentally deflated on that path and I said, “All right, screw it. I really can’t do this.” It sounds funny now that we’re older but it seemed like it was kind of dead stop, the end of the world. Like, “Oh, forget it. I’ve tried, I can’t do it,” even though it was in its infancy of me trying. And so I said computer stuff is kind of the way I was going to go. 

CK: I see. 

Chewbode: So around that time is where I was getting my mind focused on … the technical stuff is really what I was hoping to do. I was like, “Maybe I’ll get into computers, I’ll be a computer programmer and get a job doing that, corporate job or something like that.” I wasn’t too focused as to exactly how I was going to do it, but it was going to be with computers at that point. 

CK: Now, we rode the bus to summer school. I remember the rubber seats in those things, and-

Chewbode: Squeaked a lot. 

CK: … just be sweating really bad inside. Yeah, no AC. And my mom would drive the two of us up to the corner of 41 and South Venice Boulevard across from the farm store, and stand around getting eaten by bugs waiting for the school bus. And when we were riding the school bus one day home, that was when we came up with the name Chewbode. And I wanted to explain a little bit about how that came about. I don’t want to give away the entire secret to it, but there’s this idea when you’re on a BBS, and this also goes for current internet. You have a Twitter handle. Well, back in the BBS days, we had handled just like that. 

Chewbode: Or like a gamer tag. 

CK: Yeah, a gamer tag. People who use CB radios, I think, sometimes have handles and stuff like that so that they’re not identifying themselves directly. You can’t go over to their house if you hear them talking. The name I came up with was a certain way of scrambling the letters in my name and adding a T on the beginning, which made my name T. ARLARDKIN. We were talking about that on the bus or something, giggling about it or whatever, and we took some of the letters in your name, and we scrambled them up and ended up with HOWCOBDEJ, which was kind of funny, and then I think I suggested adding an L on the beginning, an L. HEWCOBDEJ but the whole thing was kind of clunky. We were like, “I don’t know, it doesn’t-“

Chewbode: Didn’t flow good. 

CK: Yeah. 

Chewbode: Yeah. 

CK: For some reason it doesn’t seem aesthetically right. I think you started drawing arrows and moving the letters around. Your typical thing for writing on that you’d carry with you often was graph paper. You were a very graph paper guy, because you liked drawing diagrams and all that, and we shuffled them around and suddenly we saw the word Chewbode, and we died laughing for some reason. Like what does that even mean? It’s just funny. It fits you. 

Chewbode: Chewing, bode, and we explicitly dropped the L I think is the letter that was there. “Ah, forget this L, let’s just go with Chewbode. That sounds really funny.” 

CK: Yeah. And we just laughed about it really hard and it stuck forever. And at that same time, on the graph paper, there was something you shared with me that really blew me away, and impressed me probably more than anything right away. I was like, “This guy has really got something going on. This is something I have never experienced here before.” Not to build it up too much, but being a 15-year-old kid who was pretty sheltered, and seeing this scheme you came up with on the graph paper and explaining to me this concept, you and some friends of yours decided to make something called Brimstone: The Uncanny Vigilante. Can you tell the story of what this thing was? 

Chewbode: Yeah. The brief explanation is it was a video game, and it was inspired back in the day. There was a video game you could go into the arcades and play that was revolutionary for the time. The game was called Dragon’s Lair. The ground-shattering thing about it is that where you would go to a game like Pac-Man and it’s just these little dots moving around the screen with these really primitive sounds, Dragon’s Lair actually, inside of it was a giant DVD basically. They called them LaserDiscs at the time, and it was an entire animated movie, like Saturday morning cartoon, with perfect resolution. It was like a medieval knight trying to save a princess. He’s jumping all around doing these things, and for a split second you’d see something flash on the side of the screen and that was your indication to move the joystick in that direction or hit the jump button or something like that. 

So it was an interactive game but you were kind of reacting to prompts. And that game eventually got released for home computers. It was very impressive quality. It wasn’t full-blown Saturday morning, you’re watching a television show quality at that point. It was of course scanned in images and it was digitized, as they say at the time, brought into the computer. 

CK: But to me, when I saw it as a kid, when I saw Dragon’s Lair, I was like, “That’s a TV show video game.” 

Chewbode: Absolutely. Yeah. 

CK: There was no difference to me. I couldn’t tell the difference. 

Chewbode: Yeah, so there was a dumbing down of it that made it way more realistic to be able to achieve that if you just knew some stuff about how computers worked. And we kind of did. There was those kinds of things where I would think about, “Oh, I know a guy who knows audio and he’s into music and stuff, and he knows kind of how to do some stuff, and I know this guy who’s an artist and he can draw really amazing, almost Marvel Comics-level stuff.” And so we started talking about putting together our version of Dragon’s Lair for the PCs, and that was Brimstone. It was essentially kind of like The Punisher, if you’re familiar with those comics, where it’s just this guy with guns running around kind of a Die Hard-esque kind of building where he’s going through all these levels trying to do things and ultimately saving the day at the end. And that’s basically the gist of the game.

CK: Now, what blew me away about this, I didn’t see any visuals at first. You just pulled out your graph paper and you showed me these spreadsheets you made of all of the detailed breakdowns. They were just handwritten paper Excel sheets, basically, what spreadsheets were before we had computerized spreadsheets, I guess. These tables. And you had calculated all the cost per item, all the production costs, the whole budgets, how much the envelopes would cost to ship them in, how much profit, what percentage of everything, and it was basically like a QuickBooks. Like full breakdown, production breakdown. “Yeah, and so here at the bottom line is basically on the low end we’re going to make this many millions of dollars, and on this end we’ll probably make more millions of dollars, and if you join in on this with us and do the music for it, this will be your share of it, and this is the budget we have for the …” And I’m just like, “This guy is really in another world here.” 

Chewbode: “He’s out of his mind.” 

CK: No, no, not … I was really impressed. I didn’t doubt you one bit. I was like, “This guy’s smart. I don’t know what I’m doing, but he knows what he’s doing. He’s got a plan, and I should stick with this guy and whatever he’s doing, because he’s going somewhere.” It’s really funny to me looking back now, because I was completely unequipped at that time to do any type of scoring or music. I knew nothing about what I was doing. I could play guitar pretty well but I was a 15-year-old kid that was like, I barely know how to play through an amp. So, it was funny that you were still including me on this thing. 

Chewbode: Yeah, but that didn’t matter at the time, because that’s the whole thing. And again, that’s the reflection of Image Comics or Industrial Light & Magic. Those people didn’t know what they were doing either, and they made it happen. 

CK: But what’s funny is that the rest of you guys really had proven skills that you could have potentially done something like that. And I just want to say that I was just not experienced or developed at that point, compared to you guys. I was like, “This is real stuff happening here.” 

Chewbode: Like a little splash of cold water on your face? Like, “Whoa.” 

CK: Yeah. And the next thing you showed me was, I went over to your house and you showed me a short trailer, like a little teaser, and I don’t think I had any of the characters in it or anything, but it was basically some computerized music, I think, some 8-bit music or something.

Chewbode: Yeah, some temporary stuff. 

CK: Some Amiga mods or something. You had really pro-looking company logos. Each of our little group of friends, one of our friends, Mike, had this other … He had a company … 

Chewbode: Quote-unquote. 

CK: Yeah, that you made up, and you had a company name that you made up. There was Ground Zero Software and Hypertask Industries, and I just remember being so blown away that you took … in a good way, that you took this seriously. You’re like, “These guys are making something over here on the other side of the creek. This is incredible.” 

Chewbode: The other side of the horseshoe. 

CK: I just have to get past the alligators and get over there and be a part of this somehow. This is really cool. How did you go about … Do you recall how you even made that trailer? Because it was all bitmaps and stuff. 

Chewbode: It was. 

CK: You had to sit there … How did you go about programming a logo into a computer at that time?

Chewbode: You know, you mentioned earlier that I like microcosms of things, and one of the other types of things that I really enjoyed, once again, another discipline of computers, was graphics, and back in the day it was all very primitive and primitive tools. You could only have just so many colors on the computer screen in a given time, so you had to choose your palette of colors and got stuck with it, et cetera. 

CK: For instance, how many? Like eight colors or something? 16 colors? 

Chewbode: I think it was 16 colors and it was 320 pixels by 240 pixels or something. It was really like postage stamp size stuff. 

CK: Like maybe even smaller than what my Apple Watch is maybe? 

Chewbode: Yeah. Yeah, probably. Yeah. You would probably run that demo on your watch now and you couldn’t see it, it’s so small. I had done a few things where, again, I’d find these video games and I’d type them into the computer years prior and part of that was you had to import a little graphics library so that the little Mario kind of character was bouncing around to your input. And I figured out how to crack into those files and mess around with them, and I started learning the tricks of such low resolution is really blocky, but you start doing this routine called anti-aliasing where you put … if it’s a white circle on screen, it looks like a very chunky white circle, but if you put gray dots around there, it almost makes it a little fuzzy but blends it into the background that’s black, and now you get a smoother looking circle. 

Any of you gamers out there know this because modern graphics cards kind of just do this in your games automatically. Back then you had to do it all by hand for every frame of animation you did. I learned that because those graphics used to bother the crap out of me. They just looked so chunky, and like, why wouldn’t you make it look nicer? And so I would bring that stuff in and I’d touch it up and the graphics would look better for that game out of the magazine. Well, fast forward, I had to have that quality now from this point forward, so anything I did … make it look good in this kind of fashion of smoothing out things, et cetera. 

So, when it came down to doing something like the Brimstone intro or splash screen and logos and stuff, that was legitimately like coming up on paper with ideas thinking, “Oh, this is really cool looking.” Ground Zero software was the word Ground, the word Zero, split apart with a glass mushroom cloud in between and then it said “Software” across the bottom. That’s the ultimate end product of it, but I went through like 10, 20 revisions of how I wanted that to look, and one point it was gold colored, one point it was glass colored and stuff, so I eventually just drew that in the computer by hand. 

CK: How do you draw that in the computer by hand? 

Chewbode: Well, yeah, it’s literally like you think- 

CK: Because when I did stuff like that, I remember there might have been better tools by the point you were doing this, but when I had to do this on the TRS-80, it meant entering in coordinates. 

Chewbode: It wasn’t quite that bad. 

CK: Like 001, 005 would put a block, one pixel. So you were using maybe a Paintbrush, like a bitmap, and clicking the dots? 

Chewbode: Yeah. Well, the TRS-80 didn’t have a mouse for input. This is in the days where the Macs and Amigas and stuff, they had a mouse, so it was pretty easy to just grab the mouse, click the mouse button and start drawing on the screen. That was a pretty standard thing, and there was a lot of art packages out there that allowed you to do that kind of stuff. Again, primitive compared to today with the tool set, but the concept was the same. And so, yeah, I would go into those and I would start meticulously recreating the logo, and I would create the logo in its full color form, and the trailer that you ultimately saw was very basic, where I took those bitmaps of Ground Zero Software and Hypertask Industries in the ultimate end of the thing where it’s Brimstone’s logo. Just saved them as three files, right? And then I brought them into a … I wrote a piece of software that basically when you launched the software, it blackens out the screen- 

CK: Yeah, so you’ve got all these cool fading effects and everything. 

Chewbode: Yeah, exactly. And so that’s all it was. It was basically just digitally adjusting- 

CK: Just three images. 

Chewbode: … the brightness of the screen to trick your mind into think you’re watching the trailer of a movie or something. 

CK: It’s just incredible to me that, back then, to do this sort of thing, you had to really want to do it and do it intentionally and figure out … You know, it could take you an hour to do one transition. 

Chewbode: Oh, yeah, it took forever to do that stuff back then. 

CK: Yeah. Now we just do it on Premiere and hit a button and it does it. 

Chewbode: Right, drop shadow, no problem. 

CK: I think the realization back then was my 16-year-old friend Chewbode sitting next to me here on the bus is honestly capable of making something that I would see in a video game arcade, and I thought, “Oh man, someone knows how to get out of this place. There’s actually a way out. This video game, Brimstone, or whatever, might get us out of here.” And you were inviting me to be a part of all of that, but at the time, when I was like 15, I was such a chaotic kid. I was pretty sheltered and I think I was much more sheltered than other kids my age. I mostly stayed near the house or inside, kind of reading D&D books, and so I was never out really … I never got into any trouble. 

And I wasn’t doing the things that other teenage kids did, like dating or learning to drive or socializing or getting part-time jobs or whatever like 15, 16-year-olds were doing. When you first started coming over to my place, my bedroom was a disaster of cables everywhere, cassette tapes outside of their cases, not rewound, pretzel crumbs everywhere. 

Chewbode: Milk crates full of cables and-

CK: Milk crates full of old, broken cables that don’t do anything, just stacked up everywhere. I had boxes and boxes of cassettes, because my mom would buy me cassettes to use in the four-track to record whatever, and I never labeled any of them, and they’d end up all over the place. It was chaos. You came in there and you actually introduced me to the concept of organization. 

Chewbode: Which sounds silly now, really, but yeah.

CK: Yeah. Somehow that was not a part of my upbringing. Nobody taught me to do that, but I picked it up from you. I was like, “He’s coming in here and for some reason he’s straightening up the room.” He’d pick things up off the floor and he’d … Chewbode would look at me and be like, “Ugh …” It was just like this, “Oh, I can’t … oh, you can’t do that.” 

Chewbode: Pained me. It pained me. 

CK: Yeah. And so I had a cassette player stereo system set up with wiring all over the place, and we would be sitting there doing something like playing on your computer or whatever was going on, and throughout the entire time that you were there, you had a box of unwound tapes and cases and you would sit there and process them of like rewind all the tapes. 

Chewbode: It was like a background task. 

CK: Yeah, a background task, totally. You’d be doing that in the background while we were watching TV or whatever. You’d be sitting there. You would rewind every tape, put it in its case and then put them in order and put them in the case or whatever, in the container. 

Chewbode: They’d be set up so you could read the edge of it, so you’d know what album it was or whatever was recorded on it or whatever. 

CK: And I just thought that was crazy at the time. I was like, “Why would someone do that? There’s something kind of wrong with him in a way.” I didn’t know that that was a good thing to do. It’s funny to think that that concept of organization didn’t really enter my mind all through school. I never got the hang of having a neat and tidy desk or notebook or anything like that. It was just a mess all over the place. 

Chewbode: And I think it was just something that maybe you just didn’t need in your life. It was just one of those things where at the time you didn’t need to be organized. For whatever reason, your mind just didn’t work that way and it was fine and it didn’t cause you any harm being that way. 

CK: Well, but it did because I constantly lost everything. I was never able to do my schoolwork because I’d lose my books or lose my homework or not remember that I had homework. 

Chewbode: I’m glad I came over then. 

CK: Yeah. Chris Higgins described this concept as a goldfish not knowing that it’s wet or something. I just didn’t know that I was chaotic. I thought that this was normal. Why did you want to … As an outsider coming into that, what was that like for you and why would you want to put my stuff in order? And do you get sort of a satisfaction or good feeling from things being in order? 

Chewbode: Yeah. It’s funny. Well, I did it because you let me do it, first of all, so from that perspective, I got away with it. I wouldn’t call it an OCD kind of thing, but I do have a mental structure that I think stems from being so young and playing around with computers and learning how computers work. During the phase of being very young and learning how to program, some of that included, like I said, learning the guts of the computers, and everything has its place, right? There’s a reason that it does this stuff and it’s all organized in a very certain way and there’s hierarchies of how things function and things like that.

CK: Yeah, I mean, a program will crash if it’s out of order. The webpage won’t load if there’s a single syntax error in the middle of it. 

Chewbode: Yeah, and even more importantly there’s certain things where there’s dependencies. It’s like if the computer starts up and the video card has died overnight, it’ll tell you, “Hey, I can’t function because I depend on this so you can see what’s going on,” right? And that goes to the nth degree in a computer. So naturally my mind just kind of gets formed in that way, and I think at one point you and I, years and years ago, were talking about all this, and I made a comment that melted your brain a little bit, and I was like, “Yeah, my daily life is I think in folders and files.” I mean, I don’t physically see it floating in front of me, but my brain processes things like a folder on a computer. Like name the folder Excel spreadsheets, and all the Excel spreadsheets go in there and they’re nicely tucked away and organized, and then maybe subfolders organizing it further into different departments’ spreadsheets and stuff. That’s basically how my mind has been, just because I kind of had to be that way, but also I enjoy being that way. It helps me keep a clearer mind. 

So that said, that’s kind of the beginning of it, and then fast forward, when I encounter things that aren’t like that, it kind of bothers me. It’s like, there’s better ways to do this. With you, when I started coming over and seeing this, it didn’t really affect me super immediately. It was first kind of scannign the horizon and being like, “Whoa, there’s a lot of boxes over there with … I don’t know what’s going on in there.” And as we became friends and I was able to dig through these things literally more and more, I realized, “Oh, these are just a bunch of guitar cables. Why, when he goes to grab a guitar cable, he pulls it out and the whole 45 cable bunch comes out? Why would you not just spend the time to wind them up properly and put velcro around them or something like that so it’s very easy to retrieve?” 

Or, again, the cassette tapes, why would you risk damaging the stuff you’re recording because you’re throwing it in a bin, and the tape kind of half comes out and it’s getting crinkled? Just rewind it to its safe spot, man. Put it into the happy zone so it won’t get damaged there, and it’s clean, and you know where you’re at, and all this. And this is just, again, me filing stuff away. So when I walk into this environment, eventually I get to a point where I start testing the waters and start doing this. My own life is not really super chaotic and I have things very organized in my own life, so I’m helping my buddy out. And if he gets PO’d at me, then I’ll stop doing it, but if he lets me do it, I’ll do it, and hopefully it’ll help him. 

Fast forward two weeks later, I come back and the tapes are all unwound again and the cables are stuffed into a crate again. So it became kind of a joke, but-

CK: It became a joke because I’d be like, “Oh, Chewbode, can you come over and rewind the tapes?” 

Chewbode: But you weren’t doing it on purpose. You weren’t trying to-

CK: Right. No, no, no. 

Chewbode: Yeah. 

CK: It’s interesting, putting all of this in perspective for me and thinking back, I feel like any amount of linear thinking and organization in my life came from that time where you introduced me to that idea, and it took me at least 15 to 20 years of slowly becoming more and more linear, and it’s funny now to consider how much my life as an adult I’m … I don’t remember how old I am. I’m like 47, 48. Something like that? 

Chewbode: Something like that. 

CK: My wife always has to remind me how old I am. It’s funny how central and how heavily weighted towards rigidity my life is on a daily basis because of that training of being whipped into shape by your of, “Don’t leave that cable laying there. What are you doing? Wind that up.” It was sort of like seeking parental values in my certain friends, and in that way, you taught me how to be an organized adult, but it took me 20 years of slowly … And to this day, it’s funny, if I have a mess of tangled cables, which I have sometimes, I will-

Chewbode: Carl. 

CK: … have to take a photo-

Chewbode: Carl. 

CK: … and it send it to you, and instantly you’re just like, “Don’t send me that. What are you doing?” 

Chewbode: Yeah. Well, we live on opposite sides of the country, so I’ll sometimes reply, “I’m on a plane tomorrow. I’ll be there soon.” 

CK: Yeah. But it’s funny how dramatically that impacted me, and it came from you, Chewbode, so thank you. 

Chewbode: Oh, you’re very welcome. I noticed it over the years. As time went on, I was watching you get more and more organized, and obviously you moved out from Florida to the West Coast, and so we didn’t spend a lot of interpersonal time together. It was via the phone or sometimes we’d see each other in person when we flew to the other side of the country, but we weren’t in each other’s stuff all the time as the years went on, and so when I’d see you do something and get super organized about something, I’d be like, “Oh, is this something that is a remnant of something I hopefully helped him with?” 

CK: Oh yeah. 

Chewbode: “Or, is he learning this from other people now too? He’s just absorbing it?” 

CK: It totally comes from Chewbode. 

Chewbode: That’s nice to hear. 

CK: Yeah. And I want to ask you also, related to this, I’ve always seen you as a shockingly split personality in a way, that you have these different personas. You have a very logical Spock Vulcan type side which we’re talking about with all of the organizing, but then you also, people who know you, a lot of people would really know you as this comedic madman, this total absurd, outrageous creativity. Once you have all of that other stuff locked down, when you have everything in place, you kind of go the complete opposite way with your imagination. You’re very, very funny, you’re very random, you have a vivid description of bizarre, twisted, surreal, sick ideas, perverted ideas. Do you have any thoughts on that duality? What’s going on there? How are you so one way and so the other, and do you feel like there’s a division between the two or do they blend together? Do you feel like maybe you need to be one more than the other or do you feel balanced? 

Chewbode: I can’t really pinpoint or put a finger on exactly where that stemmed from. If I was to guess, this is a strangely natural evolution of being the technical mind, again, pointing back to learning computers at an early age, really getting into a position where I focused on that. I mean, I just want to enunciate this briefly. I hate to keep kind of stopping and starting like this, but-

CK: Do it. 

Chewbode: … when I was doing that stuff as a kid, I would go on 18-hour programming benders. I would sit there with a soda or a Hi-C or whatever was in fashion at the time depending on my age. I’d sit at the computer and I’d bang out code, and I’d have such a great time. And the majority of the time it was just all for me. I wasn’t necessarily taking some crazy programming and send it to you and be like, “Look what I made” necessarily or whatever. I was having a ton of fun and I was learning a lot of what at the time felt like really groundbreaking things, like no one thinks of this stuff, but obviously they probably were, but that was just my own bubble, right? And I was just really enthralled by that. 

So you got this real technical mind doing all this stuff, but at the same time, I wanted to play the video game. I wanted to do the graphics, which is inherently kind of a creative process. Like I said, I tried to get into some musical type things and it just kind of crashed and burned and so, okay, that’s not me, but I can go back to the graphic stuff. So, I’ve always kind of had this technical and creative piece, and I think as time has gone on, and as I grew up, there’s been phases in my life where one side or the other has been turned on or off, right? And I mentioned a minute ago that I got to a point where I had a day job and I was doing boring programming stuff, so being able to come home and call you up or, if you were still living near me at the time, we’d hang out and we’d talk about a project, is just like the creativity explodes again. Right? 

CK: Yeah, because on a daily basis you’re considered a very serious IT dude, who’s responsible for large amounts of money and technology, and it’s not always good for everybody to know that you’re Chewbode. 

Chewbode: Psycho? 

CK: Yeah. Like letting that side of yourself out necessarily isn’t always the best thing. 

Chewbode: Well, and there’s stages too. I don’t want to give the impression I’m a Jekyll or Hyde kind of scenario-

CK: Right, right, right, right, right. 

Chewbode: … but if I know you and I’m a friend of mine and you’re kind of in that inner circle, there’s even a reservation. I’ll be the jokey guy that does weird things and stick pretzels to the wall to see who laughs, right? It’s almost a performance, like, who can I make laugh in the room, right? 

CK: Yeah, it’s a good way of breaking the ice with people. 

Chewbode: Right. But people like Carl, who I’ve kind of known my whole life and we’ve done so much together and we’ve been involved working very closely, physically in a room sometimes silently for hours at a time to accomplish a goal or whatever, or traipsing around South Venice trying to do some project or whatever, you get to that point where you just inherently start doing gross jokes with your buddy. And there’s that level where I’ve got a few of the guys that I can be that way with, and I can just say outlandish stuff, and actually, as a matter of fact-

CK: Like buying the cupcakes, which we won’t get into, but that’s a phenomenon. 

Chewbode: Yeah. Well, it even got so to a point where … and I won’t go too elaborate into this, but there was actually a time where I considered taking my company name that we were kind of doing our projects under for a while, and I was going to switch it to call it The Perverted Mime Factory, because there was a whole stint of weird things that I would do from time to time. 

CK: Oh, yes. I had completely forgotten this now, probably for a year I haven’t even thought about this, but you used to do perverted miming. And you were really good at it. 

Chewbode: To be clear, not as a profession. 

CK: Right. Yeah. 

Chewbode: Yeah. It was more of just as we were hanging out, buddies, I would just do something funny and we’d all laugh about it or whatever. 

CK: Just very, very realistic motions with certain body parts that were invisible, that he was imagining, and having those body parts react with physical space, and have real-time reactions with physics. Like, wow. 

Chewbode: And silently standing there and pretending to have walls around you, like miming it, like pretending to be a mime. 

CK: But very perverted. 

Chewbode: But very perverted, yeah. 

CK: Yeah. And so I just want to, if you’re done talking about that topic, I just want to cap that off and say you are a person who is extreme in both of those directions. It’s very interesting. You don’t see that very often, someone who is that far that logical and also that surreal. 

Chewbode: Yeah. And again, just in my cap-off of that is there’s the structured part, the technical part, there’s the creative part, and then I happen to also have this extreme gross-out thing that I do just … who can I shock in the room? And I find that really funny to see people gasp when I do something silly or whatever. 

CK: Let’s talk about Venice High School, where we met and we attended. It seems to me that the educational system at Venice High School or in Florida in general did not work for either of us. We were smart kids and I know that at least in fourth and fifth grade, I was considered gifted. I don’t know what happened by the time I got to high school, but I’m assuming you were also considered gifted in some way. I don’t know if that was ever officially said to you, but why didn’t we seem to be able to follow the program? You told me that you wouldn’t do homework. Can you tell me about that? 

Chewbode: Yeah. Well, it wasn’t a political statement or anything. It’s not like I was trying to prove some point. I mentioned that my credit hours got really messed up when I moved to Florida. I tried a little bit, then kind of got disillusioned with the fact that things just weren’t going to stack up in the way I kind of thought about, and-

CK: Well, I mean, was this when you wanted to be a surgeon? 

Chewbode: Yeah. 

CK: So, you wanted to be a surgeon and- 

Chewbode: Brain surgeon. 

CK: A brain surgeon, and you ended up living next to a creek in South Venice …

Chewbode: Next to a broken alligator bridge. 

CK: … next to a broken alligator bridge. That’s unbelievable. 

Chewbode: Yeah. 


And that’s the end of Part One of my Chat With Chewbode. In Part Two, we’ll find out the answer — to why we just couldn’t seem to succeed, in the educational system that was… Venice High School. 


OK, that’s the end of this Episode of the Carl King Show. Remember to subscribe on Spotify, Apple, YouTube, or anywhere else you consume to these dang episodes. 

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