Welcome to the Naked Hoof Website! My name is Bill Anderson, and I am the driving force behind this wondrous land of music, images and literature.
This page was last updated on 05/27/97 04:55 EDT.
Photograph © Robert Herman. Content © 1996 Bill Anderson
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[Personal] [Musical] [Computers] [Game Reviews]
Don't expect my life story here, as I am writing about events in my own life in my new book. Read it there. I am a self educated author, songwriter, computer programmer, etc.. I lived either on the road or on the street for five years in the mid 70's, after running away from home as a teenager.
After returning home in 1978, I quickly gained a H.S. equivalency and began attending the College of Staten Island.I majored in Physics and was planning a transfer to either the University of Rochester to study lasers and plasma physics, or to MIT for a similar curriculum. However, I had already screwed up too much to be able to attend either one of these colleges. Not because I couldn't meet the grade, mind you. I had left high school and that made scholarship opportunities nearly impossible to obtain.
So I left college and worked as a real estate salesman and appraiser for my then father-in-law. It looked like it might eventually be a very lucrative career. But I didn't care for it. And as for selling, it can be a handicap to be too knowledgeable about your product or competing products. And honesty is definitely NOT a virtue in the sales game. But it works supremely in the world of art. For art which is created with honesty and virtue as it's foundation, regardless of what noise happens to be fashionable, will never go out of style. And that's all I have to say about that.
Some other things I have done include stock boy, warehouse laborer, a brief stint in the NAVY (honorably discharged), panhandler, thief, escort, cashier, security guard, construction worker, auto mechanic, auto body prep specialist, meter reader, bicycle messenger, Toyota salesman, software engineer, game designer, painter, graphic artist, network consultant and engineer, systems analyst, pro audio consultant and salesman, Manager of Information Systems and consultant to companies such as PaineWebber and Drexel Burnham Lambert. Among other things.
My hobbies include bicycling, motorcycling, computers, music of all kinds, anything mechanical or electronic (excluding guns, missiles, nuclear warheads and the like), camping in Maine with Bev & the Hoof, swimming, cliff diving, muff diving, mountain climbing and rescuing animals. My dog Merlin is the Naked Hoof. I call him that when he is not wearing his collar. And I know it's a paw, not a hoof. 'Hoof' is the sound Merlin makes sometimes, kind of a doggie whisper. Sincere thanks to my sister Val for the original logo and to my girlfriend Beverly for her immeasurable support.
My influences are: Classical, Modern and Traditional Jazz, Blues, Rock music from Del Amitri to Skinny Puppy, from The Eagles To Gentle Giant, Rhythym and Blues, even Rap. I write and play totally from my soul, and I have never had a desire to play someone elses vision. And, quite honestly, I am not at all good at it anyway.
I am six feet tall, have dirty blond hair and hazel eyes. The picture on this page was taken in late 1994, so my hair is a bit longer now. The picture was taken at a live rehearsal at my old studio on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. I am playing my Jackson® Kelly guitar and the microphone is an AKG® C391 blue line condensor, which I use for live shows and recording to maintain a consistent vocal sound.top
As a vocalist, I gave my first public performance at the age of 9, as part of a (reform) school presentation. At the age of 14, I performed at the College of Staten Island Auditorium with a citywide chorus of the best vocalists. We recorded an album, with a live orchestra, of classical music.
Oh yeah, I also took a (very) few guitar lessons when I got home from reform school.
So, in 1987, when I lost my job as a systems analyst for IMNET®, (they went out of business), they gave us all a nice severance package including 4 months pay. Anyway, I got another job right away, so with my first extra paycheck, I bought a KORG® Poly 800 II synthesizer. My life had, once again took a drastic turn, and will never be the same (thankfully).
So for the next 2 weeks (nine years I reckon), I spent every night playing with my new toy. Oh, I had been dabbling with different instruments over the preceding years, but really only that. I played the Bass Guitar, 6 String Guitar, and any other instrument I could get my hands on, but never found my expressive voice. This was different. In those 2 weeks, I had managed to compose and record over a dozen works, something I hadn't managed to do ONCE in all my previous years!
I made those recordings by dubbing cassettes back and forth on my cheap home cassette deck, but they sounded decent enough to get my point across. I soon contacted the only musician I knew at the time, a drummer named Marc Altman. I hesitated to pass along the tape because I thought it was not copyrighted (it was, just not registered). So we set a time to listen to the tape with a guitarist he was working with, Joe 'Zeppi' Golden.
The night arrives for our meeting, and both of these professional musicians are blown away by what I am doing! They are only days away from deciding to go full tilt on this as a band project, dropping their current collaborative project. By the way, at that point this was an entirely instrumental project, no words having yet been written or sung. I might also add that my self esteem at this point in time was near an all time low (who knew it could go even lower?), so this was all very amazing to me.
We all started spending all our free time and money on my new project, 'The Magical Kingdom'. We bought a Fostex® Model 80 eight track recorder. We bought a mixing board and effects. I bought more keyboards and guitar equipment. The three of us would work every night in Marc's attic until two or three in the morning, then go to our jobs a few hours later. The room was about eight feet by ten feet. With a full drum kit, recording setup, keyboard rig and two guitar rigs it was very cramped.
We had recorded perhaps four of these instrumental tunes, when I decided one evening to write some words for one of them. Since I had the studio to myself that night, I put down a vocal track for the song 'Full Moon In Autumn'. When they listened to the crude vocal I had done they convinced me to write more words, and we started taking new directions. After mostly finishing the 'Magical Kingdom' project, we started collaborating on some more mainstream music with vocals.
The first of these songs, 'Can't Hold Back' can be heard on the sounds page. Other songs that came from this collaboration include 'One More Time', 'Dreams In The Sand' (also on the sounds page) and 'The Stranger The Danger'. Around the same time we all decided it would be a good thing for us to gather up some more band members. We still needed a bassist and a keyboardist. I would then only have to do fill in keyboard and guitar work during live shows.
We started working with a bassist, Joe Mustari, and keyboardist Ed O'Grady. And although nobody could really do great backing vocals, everyone gave it their all. We practiced three times a week. The sound was awesome. The drummer used an electronic kit, and we wired everything to monitor under headphones so that we could play late at night. We were ready to start booking shows, but before practice one night, the keyboardist calls from a bar to say he can't make it. He sounded pretty stewed. So we decided I would play keyboards, despite my limited skill.
It would take at least two to three months, however, for me to get up to speed. I had never sang and played an instrument simultaneously before. But it was not quite as difficult as I had imagined. Still, I had only been playing keyboard for less than two years, and had concentrated more on compositional skills than chops. It was a big challenge. But as time passed, Marc and Joe Mustari would start taking longer and longer with their funky jamming, and Marc had started losing interest. Joe 'Zeppi' and I decided to move on and find more dedicated members.
It didn't take very long to find a drummer, Walter Earl. Walter was a friend of Zeppi who also happened to be the head bouncer at a popular Staten Island club at the time, known as 'The Red Spot' (seen in MTV's original 'Real World'). We had a helluva time finding a new bassist, so I recorded some bass parts on cassette so that we would have something to play to. This worked okay for the first gig we played, aside from the occasional audience member wondering what was 'live' and what was 'memory-x'. The next show we did, at On Stage, was not so okay.
That show was the show from hell. It was also the beginning of the end for 'Stratus' (a name derived from the fault-tolerant computer systems I was working with at the time). We had a new bassist, who had claimed to know the material, but when he arrived from the West Coast a week prior to the show, knew none of it. We were forced to practice 4 hours a day every day before the gig, and (predictably) I lost my voice the day of the show. I'm not talking a bit of minor laryngitis here, I could not even speak. In the course of that day, I believe I drank 4 or 5 bottles of cough medicine.
Anyway, I arrived at the club very early to make sure everything was set for the show. We had set-up our equipment earlier in the day, but I still like to check everything. There also were two other bands we had booked for this show that would precede us. When we went to check the P.A. system, we found one of the mains power amps failed, so I had to take our side-fill monitor amplifier to make the mains work. No side fills, and this was a LARGE venue. I was hoping the stage monitors would do.
By the time the first band, Legend, was ready to go on stage, the problems had been mostly ironed out. Walter, the bassist (who shall remain nameless) and Zeppi went to get ready for the show. I remained behind to keep an eye on everything. The second act was taking the stage, The Netherclass. After they had completed their set, the others had still not returned. I was getting worried. We were already at least an hour behind schedule, and some people who had come to see us were starting to leave as it was close to 2 A.M..
Our stage set was magnificent! Walter's electric/acoustic drum kit, including two Tympani, had been set on top of a rig we had made with four 'bins' (formerly belonging to "Twisted Sister") perhaps 5 feet high. My keyboard rig was center stage, with the Zeppi's guitar setup behind and to my right, and the bassist set up behind and to my left. Running up to the drum platfrom on either side of and behind me, were two slanted platforms. One each for Zeppi and the bassist to use during the show. It was like a big touring act setup.
To Be Continued......
I first got serious about computing in the early 1980's, when I lost my job as a Real Estate Appraiser (isn't unemployment a great catalyst for change?). I had a TRS-80® computer, and I decided I would like to program and design games - just like that! For those of you who don't remember or simply don't know, the TRS-80 was a Z80® based (8-bit) system with 16K (that's Kilobytes not megabytes) of RAM and an integral B&W monitor with block graphics, that was sold by Radio Shack® in the 80's.
So I really did just start programming, in BASIC (interpreted), and my first game was to be similar to RISK®. About 3 weeks into the project, I had already used up 14K of my 16K of RAM, and I had only the maps, there was no game engine! I realized that if I was going to do any serious work, I would have to learn ASSEMBLER. Not knowing any better, I went out and purchased a book on Z80 machine coding! I have been on job interviews where the person who would have been my supervisor could not believe I had learned assembler on my own (glad I didn't get THOSE jobs)!
Anyway, 9 months (?) later I had a mostly bug-free and playable game, which I promptly sent out to some game companies. One of them was a company called Adventure International®, a big marketer and manufacturer of text adventure games, run by a gentleman named Scott Adams. They would be interested, they wrote in their first letter, in publishing the game with two caveats: 1)It had to be changed so as to be less similar to RISK and 2) I would have to move to cross-platform development (a difficult task with assembled code and vastly different machine architectures).
So now I had two basic problems: 1) I no longer wanted to work on a project which was a derivative work (i.e. RISK) and 2) I had no funds with which to purchase a new system. Regardless, I did some fact checking and decided that if I could get the money together, I would buy an ATARI® system as it had the finest graphics of the time, and was reasonably priced. Just for the record the competing systems were: IBM® PC (new at the time), Commodore® 64, Apple® II and the ATARI 400/800.
I was (am) really driven to make a success of my own in this life, so I came up with an investment offer to some friends of mine. They would lend money to me and I would guarantee them a generous return on their investment. A couple of days later, I had my new system! I immediately started working to try and figure out the innermost workings of the hardware. I had also bought every development tool I could find. And books, lots of books (I still have them, as well as the computer).
Now the more I discovered about my new machine and what it could do, I was ever more determined to harvest my own fertile imagination for original ideas I could then create worlds with. I knew that I wanted to use every special feature this machine had to offer, and to go where few, if any, had gone before. I accomplished all of these goals, and more.
I named my first game Quasiman. Great! I had a name. I needed a development system. But that was something you couldn't buy at the time, you either worked for someone who did, or you built your own. So I started building the 'kernel' of my game system. Being a graphics junkie, I started with some basic 'characters'. I designed some robots and some bat-like creatures and some that looked like satellites. I used a font program, I believe it was called "The Next Step".
The ATARI graphics chip had a four-color font mode, which made four color medium-res graphics easier to design for small memory model machines. Instead of using 8K for a four color graphics screen, I would be able to use the four color font mode requiring only 2K! But I needed a way to animate these characters and change their colors. Born was my SYSVBR module, giving me a central core with which to modify parameters on the fly, while the screen was drawing. This was linked to the Display List Processor, still one of the greatest innovations in computer graphics.
While I was building this piece of code, I decided to try one of the "Blue Sky" applications of modifying code and data using the interrupt structure. I was counting clock cycles, looking for the fastest code to run in these critical sections. I wanted to use a primitive form of 3 dimensional fine scrolling for my kernel. But I only met with frustration on that goal for now, however I had written a font character animation core that would handle up to 16 sprite-type objects at a time. The code took less than 400 bytes. For anyone who understands the mechanics of this, they will know it was not a simple task.
I developed a sprite animation module with collision detection. I developed a maze engine that would use a simple form of instant compression to reduce 2K of screen data down to as little as 40 Bytes. And I developed a module that would do at least four levels of independent fine scrolling, something which no other developer had ever done, including such well funded companies as Lucasfilm. And it looked almost as good as a real arcade game, the kind people were plunking down quarters to play. And my interface and game engine were on their way towards completion. Then one morning I heard the news, ATARI was out of business.......
To Be Continued......
©1997 Bill Anderson. All Rights Reserved.
All trademarks mentioned belong to their respective owners.
All the information contained herein is factual to the best of my knowledge. No portion may be used, reprinted, edited or retransmitted by any organization for the purpose of generating profit, without express permission from the author. It is supplied for information and entertainment purposes only.
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