Anecdotes

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last posted July 21, 2014, 6:52 p.m.
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Some (hopefully) amusing stories about events in my life.

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At The Two Towers Oscar Party in 2003, I was amongst the crowds of "normal" people when the celebrities arrived. Everyone was screaming at the actors (Peter Jackson was back in New Zealand) but I recognized Barrie Osborne, the producer, walking in, talking to someone on his cell phone. I called out his name and he came over, said to the person on the phone "hang on, Pete" and shook my hand.

Yep, Barrie Osborne, Lord of the Rings producer, put Peter Jackson on hold to shake my hand :-)

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In 2004, I attended the Oscar party for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King put on by TheOneRing.net.

Even though it was sold out months in advance, I was able to get a room at the Renaissance Hollywood due to my platinum status with Marriott (ironically gained from many nights staying at the Fairfield Inn in Tewksbury) .

The night before the Oscars, I was at the bar having a drink and got talking to a guy named Chuck Holbrook. I told him some of my interests within filmmaking (cinematography, production management, sound design) and then mentioned I was there for Lord of the Rings. Somehow he got the idea I was the sound designer on Lord of the Rings and started introducing me to other people in the bar as such, despite my denial of the fact.

The following year, I was at the Palm Beach International Film Festival with my dear friend James Marcus (who knew the story above). At the big party opening the festival, James told filmmaker Wendy Dent that I was the sound designer on Lord of the Rings but (and this is the kicker) that I was shy about it and would deny it if asked about it.

Wendy came up to me and said "you were the sound designer on Lord of the Rings?" to which I of course replied "no". Armed with the extra twist of a lie James Marcus had told, she didn't accept this and proceeded to try to convince me that I shouldn't be shy and I should be proud if it. My continued protestations that I was not, in fact, the sound designer on Lord of the Rings only served to encourage her to press me on the matter!

I have yet to pay Mr Marcus back for that simple but clever prank.

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In 1994, I was an undergraduate student in Perth, Western Australia studying linguistics and planning to continue on to do a PhD.

I found out that Noam Chomsky was coming to Sydney in early 1995 to give a number of lectures and, as I had relatives there, decided I'd book a flight and spend a few days visting them and attending the Chomsky lectures.

There was scant information about the exact dates online so I emailed Chomsky who kindly replied with the details of his talk schedule. We continued a short correspondence about possible PhD studies at MIT.

Come January, I flew across the country to Sydney. Chomsky's main linguistics lecture was at the University of New South Wales but when I got there, the lecture hall was so packed, they were putting people in overflow rooms with a video link.

I'd come all this way to hear the man speak and I watched him via a video link a building or two away!

I left the overflow room after the talk and was walking past the main lecture hall when Chomsky came out, swamped by hundreds of people that wanted to talk to him. I really wanted to meet him in person myself but I knew there was little chance, so while the crowd of people tried to get their thirty second chance to talk to him, I stood back and got chatting to one of the organizers of his visit.

I told the organizer I'd come from Perth and I was considering doing a PhD at MIT. "You should join us for morning tea!" she said.

Shortly after that, the crowds were told Chomsky had to leave and Chomsky, the organizers and me went off for a coffee and a muffin. I got to talk to him for almost half an hour about linguistics, a professor of mine who'd been his student and the possibilities of doing a PhD with him.

Oh, and Chomsky didn't eat his muffin, so I got a second one :-)

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Back in 2000, I was at a tech conference and Tim Bray was introducing me to one of my heroes: Tim O'Reilly. Before we could talk much, though, Tim O'Reilly's cell phone rang. It was Jeff Bezos calling to talk about the one-click patent (and Tim's Open Letter about it).

The call was written about in an article appropriately titled My Conversation with Jeff Bezos.

I never got to finish my conversation with Tim O'Reilly, though.