With our eighth episode a number of components clicked into place, so much so that I like to think the first season of ROX truly begins here. The previous seven episodes were just a warm-up.
We were dislocated and restless. I had broken up with my girlfriend; J and I had moved in together to an upstairs apartment at 521 N. Washington, an old, tall house covered with sky-blue vinyl siding. Thus, this was our first show that wasn't shot in J's basement at 711 E. Cottage Grove. We didn't know where to shoot the show, and so we ended up shooting all over the place. (J: “That's what she said!”) We shot segments in the attic of our new apartment, and in the kitchen, and in the bathroom, even on the roof — just about everywhere.
That was a good thing. The chaos resulted in an omnibus format which we've used for most of our subsequent shows. The program alternates between conversational segments and features where stuff actually happens. As our friend Lynn puts it, this format “acts as a substitute for the plot that life generally lacks.”
Of course, at the time we didn't know what the future held. We still thought we were making a low-budget talk show, and so we called this our “Special Mish-Mosh Episode.”
ROX #8 also features some other notable firsts:
- The first appearance of Xy, known here by her real name. We would get married a year later.
- J's first nonce cocktail, the Kentucky Heifer.
- The first use of our Post Office Box, #3241, which we maintain to this day.
- The first appearance of Mr. G, here identified as Camera Operator A because he did most of the camera work for this episode. He was so creative and had such a dynamic presence that it really seemed the core of the show might morph from a duo into a trio. Unfortunately, a few days after we finished shooting ROX #8, a tragic accident turned Mr. G's life upside down, which became the subject of ROX #10.
There's a segment here that shows the construction and detonation of a homemade bomb. We say it's from a mysterious videotape which arrived in the mail. That was a lie. I shot that video myself, and the bomb was made by a friend. We also identify the active ingredient as “black-eyed peas” when in fact they are something else. We didn't want some poor kid to blow himself up.
We'd gotten our second piece of viewer mail, hand-delivered from someone who identified himself only as “An Anonymous Westside Crank.” We figured it had to be someone in our circle of friends; it was beyond our conception that it could be a complete stranger. So we confronted Mike Clarke in a segment which appears here. He had no idea what we were talking about. Unfortunately we never actually presented the letter until ROX #17, so most of our viewers probably had no idea what we were talking about either.
I'm pretty sure that J was on some heavy drugs during the “punishment” sequence, which I still find to be one of the funniest pieces of video we've ever shot. I suspect that I was shrooming during the beer tasting segments. That's how we passed the time back then.