GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:
Now then, we have discussed it already, but things, their getting all topsy-turvy. The modern day hero is no longer the quarterback or the warrior. Nowadays, everybody wants to see the little guy take it all. And there's nothing better than a story about the revenge of the nerds.
FRITZ MUELLER: My name's Fritz Mueller. I went to college in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at Carnegie Mellon. So this would've been the mid-'80's when I was a freshman in college, and I had just started there as a math major, kind of geeky with a lot of geeky roommates. I was living in one of the big dormitories on campus. It's a big, old row of cinderblock rooms. In the adjoining room next to mine that freshman year was another student who was there on an athletic scholarship - a jock. And he was really, at that time in my life, like an unwelcome intrusion on my little geek heaven. He had this habit of coming back to his room, and he had a big '80s boombox pushed right up against the adjoining wall to my room. And he had one tape it seemed on that boombox, which was Billy Idol. And he played "Rebel Yell" over and over and over and over and over loud, pouring through the wall.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "REBEL YELL")
MUELLER: I still can't listen to it. Over the course of the first few months of college it drove me slowly insane and filled me with, like, ever increasing rage. And finally one day, I was studying, and I just couldn't take it anymore. I decided I had to do something to cause this to stop. I went down, and I undid the wall plate where the electrical outlet was. And I got into the junction box, and I lifted the hot wire off the outlet thinking that this would cut the power to the outlets and make it stop this horrible noise. Boombox kept going. He had batteries in it. So that just filled me with more anger. Being an electronics nerd, I had a bunch of stuff that I brought to college with me - electronic gear of various types. And one of the things I had in my box was this thing called a buzz coil. A buzz coil is an old ignition coil from really old motor cars.
Before engines had magnetos in them, it was used to generate the high-voltage that goes across spark plugs. So this thing generates in the order of 10,000 volts. And I had this sitting close at hand. So since I'd lifted the hot from the socket and I had the boombox isolated, I thought, well, this is my chance to solve this problem once and for all. Got the induction coil and jammed about 10,000 volts right into the back of offending neighbor's boombox. This had the intended result. It made a really gratifying kind of buzzing crackling noise - kind of a thing, lots of static static noise. It sounded great followed by doormate there going, woah, man, woah. I'm sure the boombox was done. I think I probably took out, like, a clock radio or two down the hallway in collateral damage. And very quietly, you know, put the switch plate back on and pushed my desk back up against the wall and continued to do my math homework as if nothing had happened. Shortly after that, offending neighbor guy moved out to one of the fraternities on campus, and I think everybody was happier with that arrangement.
WASHINGTON: Thanks to Fritz Mueller for sharing his story. Check out his band Vandella on our site. This story was produced by none other than our own Stephanie Foo.
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