Author Archives: paulms

About paulms

My name is Paul Shapera, a musician working under the name Mocha Lab. I make albums, theater shows, videos, dance pieces, commercials and move around a lot.

Ween: Mutilated Lips

For no reason other then if you’ve never heard this you’re missing out.

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Posted by on September 20, 2014 in Uncategorized


An Actual, Real Life Walking City

Walking City, Very Large Structure By Manuel Domínguez

I first ran across this idea in the brilliant book The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi, which along with The Fractal Prince are some of the best sci fi books i’ve ever read, so you should totally go check them out.

We are not here today however to discuss alternative realities, we are here to discuss actual potentials for this reality. The significant potential in this case being a city that actually walks.

British architect Ron Herron in 1964 first seriously proposed the moving city concept. In an article in avant-garde architecture journal Archigram, Ron Herron proposed building massive mobilerobotic structures, with their own intelligence, that could freely roam the world, moving to wherever their resources or manufacturing abilities were needed. Various walking cities could interconnect with each other to form larger ‘walking metropolises’ when needed, and then disperse when their concentrated power was no longer necessary. Individual buildings or structures could also be mobile, moving wherever their owner wanted or needs dictated. Early precursors to this include Hell On Wheels the  mobile town of support personnel, restaurants, saloons, and various recreation facilities (laundry, gambling, dance halls, etc.) followed the railroad during the building of the U.S. transcontinental railroad. More modern examples include cruise ships.

However, Manuel Dominguez, Spanish architect, proposes an actual walking city.

Walking City, Very Large Structure By Manuel Domínguez

Manuel Dominguez’s “Very Large Structure,”  is the result of his thesis project at ETSA Madrid, and proposes a nomadic city that can move on caterpillar tracks to locations where work and resources are abundant.

Walking City, Very Large Structure By Manuel Domínguez

Dominguez looked to the world of heavy engineering to inspire the structure’s colossal steel frame and caterpillar tracks.Very Large Structure, despite its enormous size, has much less of an impact on its surrounding ecosystem. Its mobility is proposed as a way to encourage reforestation of the static cities which it replaces, and part of its day-to-day function is the management of this environment. The specific social conditions of the Spanish territory it is designed for also add to its relevance: it provides work for the high number of unemployed citizens in Spain. Dominguez even incorporates on-board energy generation.

Walking City, Very Large Structure By Manuel Domínguez

With a length of 560 metres, the city would be made up of three levels. Three levels would house an array of functions necessary for the city to function and accommodate a large nomadic population. The lowest would function as a warehouse and construction area, while the middle would accommodate mechanical functions such as waste disposal and air conditioning, and the top story would be used as a living deck where new architectural structures can be tested.

Walking City, Very Large Structure By Manuel Domínguez

The structure is based on a giant gantry crane. A total of 36 oversized crawlers would allow it to move, propelled by the kinds of electric engines used in large sea vessels. Despite its size, the city would strive to reduce its impact on its surroundings – the area left behind by the city would be reforested.

Walking City, Very Large Structure By Manuel Domínguez

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Posted by on September 19, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Imagining The 9th Dimension

Imagining the ninth dimension

Let’s talk about the 9th dimension, postulated by first String Theory, which theorizes 10 dimensions, and then M Theory which theorizes 11 dimensions, the details of which i do not even begin to understand.

“One notable feature of String theory and M-theory is that these theories require extra dimensions of spacetime for their mathematical consistency. In string theory, spacetime is ten-dimensional, while in M-theory it is eleven-dimensional. In order to describe real physical phenomena using these theories, one must therefore imagine scenarios in which these extra dimensions would not be observed in experiments.”

I point you to the wonderful blog Imagining The Tenth Dimension, which we are going to pilfer today and which you should totally visit. You want to be walked through the various aspects of these theoretical dimensions? Go here.

Text from above video and from his post Imagining The Ninth Dimension:

“I’ve been saying that the eighth dimension is as far as you need to go for any expressions of matter, while the ninth can only contain information/meme patterns, preferences for one kind of reality over another. How could I arrive at such an ambitious statement?

With my Imagining the Tenth Dimension project, I begin by saying that a point indicates a position in a system. In Imagining the Sixth Dimension, I mentioned that thinking about the set of all possible states for our unique universe would be thinking about our universe’sphase space. In fact, that’s the definition of phase space: a space in which all possible states of a system are represented. I believe there’s a way to apply this thinking to every single dimension – in a sense, a dimension when considered as a “set of all possible states for that dimension” becomes a finite but unbounded hypersphere, and that hypersphere becomes a point in the next dimension up.

If I’m on a boat in the middle of the ocean, I can see a horizon that appears to be the same in every direction. From this I can deduce that there is a slight curvature to the surface of the ocean, which is topologically speaking a 2D plane, and understand that I’m really on a 3D sphere. From the 2D topological perspective, I could head in a specific direction forever, giving me the impression that I was on an infinitely flat surface, but with the added curvature of the third dimension we can see how “apparently infinite” can be equated with “finite but unbounded”.

With the knowledge that it takes a certain amount of “time” for light to reach our eyes, we realize that what we’re seeing around us is not space, but space-time, and that as counter-intuitive as this may seem at first it’s actually impossible for us to see 3D space: we can imagine and use the logic of 3D shapes, but we can only see them from our moving position within 4D space-time.

From our position within 4D space-time, we look out to the furthest reaches and see a cosmological horizon which is the same in all directions. From this we can deduce that there is a slight curvature to space-time, and that we’re really a point moving on the surface of a 5D hypersphere. There are many other indications that our reality comes from the fifth dimension: back in 1921 Einstein accepted this idea as proposed by Kaluza. Holographic universe theories propose that we are an interference pattern projected from the fifth dimension, or from the “edge of the universe” but I disagree with those who say that this edge is far, far away.  Think of it like this: the third dimension is at the “edge” of the second dimension no matter where our imaginary 2D flatlanders are located. In the same way, this “edge” they speak about in holographic universe theories as being at an additional right angle to our space-time reality is not far away, it’s right “here” in the next dimension up, no matter where we are within our space-time reality. And Hugh Everett, even through he didn’t propose extra dimensions with his Many Worlds Interpretation, did propose that the branching universes derived from quantum mechanics occur within a space which is orthogonal (at right angles) to space-time.

Some quantum physicists are fond of saying that extremely unlikely events such as one of us suddenly disappearing from here and reappearing on the moon are allowable within the quantum wave function, but they are so unlikely that they would take longer than the life of the universe to occur. Likewise, Everett talked about how there are branching tree-like structures which are causally connected, and he even allowed for the possibility that some of those branches might fuse back together further down the causal chain, but he was very clear that causality could never be violated – so the universe where dinosaurs never became extinct or JFK was never murdered or where I died in a car crash last year would exist within the universal wave function as described by the Schrödinger equation, but they are now inaccessible from the universe we are currently observing. Those other universes, in a manner of speaking, are beyond the horizon of our 5D probability space, which leads me to conclude that we are a 5D point moving on the surface of a 6D hypersphere.

This sixth dimensional “phase space“, as some have called it, includes all possible versions of our universe, from its beginning to its end. But within that phase space, we never wander off into one of the other universes with different physical laws, because those are in effect “beyond the horizon” of our universe’s phase space, and from this we can deduce that the system representing our universe as a timeless whole is a point on a 7D hypersphere.

From here we are beginning to move into discussions of information flow rather than physical realities, but we’re not all the way there yet.

In his book Just Six Numbers, Sir Martin Rees tells us that we only need to define six “deep forces” to describe our unique universe. Adjusting any one of those parameters by surprisingly small amounts would cause our universe to fall apart as the laws of physics break down. So if our unique universe is located at a position within the multiverse landscape, or constrained by a D7 brane as some string theorists have suggested, then are we moving, or are we stationary on the surface of this 7D hypersphere? There has been some evidence that the basic physical laws of our universe may have been slightly different at the earliest history of our universe, which would indicate that perhaps we have changed our 7D position slightly according to the logic we’re pursuing here. But the idea that there is a certain natural selection occurring at the seventh dimension and beyond also makes sense – if we move too far away from our position, the incredibly delicate balance of forces that allow our universe to exist would collapse, so at nearby positions within this multiverse landscape there might not be universes that cohere into any meaningful structures, but further away another universe completely different from ours could be assembled with its own unique set of intricately connected physical laws and its own unique expression within the sixth dimension and below.

We also talked last entry about how we can imagine a data set of universes within the seventh dimension which would then require the “beyond the horizon” additional degree of freedom of the eighth dimension for us to be able to simultaneously consider other data sets not included within the seventh dimensional one: but to be clear, those data sets could be interchangeable, so this is more of a question of reference frames than it is of some data not being part of the seventh dimension. In that sense, the seventh dimension harkens back to the “garden hose” analogy used by string theorists: it’s useful to imagine that the seventh dimension looks like a straight line, but when we move closer we can see the dimension has the potential for additional twists and turns that are inside the “rolled up tube” that is, topologically speaking, the “plane” of the eighth dimension.

With this project, I’m proposing that the eighth dimension would encompass every possible physical expression of every possible universe. This would even include the extremely unlikely universes that result from oscillating rather than static constants – the degree of freedom to allow such changes would be within the eighth dimension. So no matter what universe we are imagining, we can visualize it as a point on an 8D hypersphere, but in the case of our own universe I suspect that we are not partaking of that additional potential degree of freedom, so we are definitely not moving away from our 7D position within the eighth dimension.

What’s beyond the horizon of the 8D construct we’ve just envisioned? String theorists who talk about there being ten to the power of five hundred possible universes are really describing the different possible shapes the extra dimensions could take. In The Hidden Reality, Brian Greene uses the following image to picture the terrain of possible extra-dimensional shapes: he calls this terrain the Landscape Multiverse (as opposed to the Brane Multiverse, the Quilted Multiverse and so on), and describes how quantum tunnelings through this mountainous string landscape realize every possible form for the extra dimensions in one or another bubble universe. To tie this idea to my approach to visualizing the extra dimensions, the topological “plane” of this landscape is the eighth dimension, and the additional degree of freedom allowing this tunneling to occur would be in the ninth dimension.

So here we are in the ninth dimension. Now we really are into the realm of organizing patterns, or “big picture memes” as I’ve called them in my book, where we are finally fully into the “information” side of the “information equals reality” equation. What caused our particular universe to be selected from out of the sea of potential patterns that roil and froth like quantum foam at the ninth dimension?”


Posted by on September 14, 2014 in Uncategorized


Escape The Mystery Room In Real Life

So a thing that’s been popping up more and more are real life Mystery Rooms. You know those point and click games where you try to escape a crimson room or various variations on that concept?

Well, there are now a number of real life mystery rooms you can go to and as a team try to escape from, usually within about an hour’s time limit.

I believe the trend started in Beijing, China. Dubbed Yi Xiang Jia (“Thinking of Home”), it sprawls over 1,000 square meters and is divided up into five scenarios that can support up to fifty players at a time. This mystery room complex puts great emphasis on teamwork.

real life mystery room real life mystery room real life mystery room real life mystery room

Since then the concept blew up in Japan and has been popping up all over. There’s some in the states (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, LA, Minneapolis, Philly, New York, Phoenix, San Fran and DC), made by Room Escape Adventures, one of which even has a room puzzle where you’re trapped inside with a zombie.

All these room pics do not necessarily correspond with the nearby text and specific place they're near.

All these room pics do not necessarily correspond with the nearby text and specific place they’re near.

There’s the awesome looking Omescape in Richmond, CA

real life mystery escape room

real life mystery escape room

Live near Toronto? There’s Mystery Rooms which features the rooms Satan’s Lair, Haunted Hospital, Prison Break, and Mummy’s Curse (Mummy’s Curse is Advanced level and asks “Can you solve this when half your group is missing?”). There’s also one in Richmond, British Columbia, EXIT.

real life mystery escape room real life mystery escape room

Here’s a description by someone who went to Omescape in Richmond, CA:  .

“We gathered a couple of friends—one male and one female—and headed to Omescape in Richmond, Calif. The Omescape rooms don’t have nearly the failure rate of the room in Japantown; we signed up for the Omega Room, a time travel-themed room with a 30 percent escape rate.

After we surrendered our bags and cell phones, the Omescape game runners explained the rules. Once they locked the door, we would have 60 minutes to solve all the puzzles and escape from the room. The game runners would not be coming inside with us; they instructed us not to touch the clocks—which contained important clues—but otherwise, we could poke and prod at anything that didn’t have a “Do not touch” sign on it. They handed us a walkie-talkie and told us if we were completely stumped, we could ask for one hint. Then they led us inside.

At first glance, the room looked like the playhouse version of a professor’s study. There was a desk in the middle of the room, and the place was filled with books and maps. Clocks lined the walls, showing various times. A small chest with a combination lock sat atop the desk. Odd pictures hung on one wall.

The game runners produced an iPad and showed us a brief introductory movie, which explained that the scientist who owned this office had mysteriously disappeared while performing time travel experiments. If we didn’t get out in time, his fate could befall us. Then they locked the door and started the clock.

The boys immediately set to work turning everything in the room over, looking for instructions, clues, secret compartments—anything that might be hidden within the room. Along with the other girl, I focused my attention on the clocks, wondering what they had to tell us. Together, we solved the first puzzle quickly, which gave us tools to see hidden things in the room that we hadn’t been able to see before. We paced through the first few steps, feeling pretty good about ourselves.

Until we got stumped, that is.”

So there you have it. An awesome idea and i assure you, i am TOTALLY gonna do one of these. Just a head’s up: UK people! I don’t believe there’s any of these in the UK. You could make a MINT doing this. Think about it. You could put this together. Get a few investors, some great puzzle builders, make this AND THEN INVITE ME! I really want to do one of these.

real life mystery escape room real life mystery escape room


Posted by on September 11, 2014 in Uncategorized


Phase 2

underground cavern

Soon i will begin making the music for the Bonus Act.

Getting from the big idea and a myriad of details to actually sitting down and starting composition is Phase 2. Phase 2 is the process whereby a lot of little ideas and details are collected and placed so that somewhere along the way Structure emerges.

The structure of the story Arc is obviously key. I might be missing a bit in the late middle, but that’s fine. I can still start. Don’t ever plan out everything. Once actually in the flow good things can happen, better ideas can come than one can have mulling it over abstractly before work even starts.

Most important to beginning is that there is some song structure. Obviously the first song would be the really important one to have a structure for. Once again, not every detail is worked out, nor should be, but since my goal is to tell a 45 minutes story, i need to begin with way better ideas of what’s going to happen when than if i was just making an album of random tunes.

 Phase 2 leads to the point where i can sit and go through the structure of the first song (or even better the first 3 as in the case here): i know we’ll open ambiently, conveying space and mood, get you to clear your mind. We’ll go into the drum bit, maybe build to vocal chanty thing, maybe not depending on where things go once actually making it. Soft, pretty with an ability to be sad celticy middle section of the song where the lyrics and lead character vocal section are, back into drum thing, get nice and intense, and… end with a soft bit that will serve as lead in to second song.


With it i i know what the hell to do and where to begin when i sit down in the studio. This ability to go through it theoretically extends in the same way to the larger Act. More missing bits for the larger Act maybe, but i can do a reasonable walkthrough, especially at important points.

Phase 2 is where we take all the ideas form all directions we’re inviting during Stage 1 and by the end have placed them and made a skeleton. My favorite part of this is when i’m sitting thinking about a bit i have up until a certain point, and when i get to that certain point, what to do next just falls right out of the air and lands neatly in place.

Bad ideas need to be discarded immediately. You cannot put them in the Structure you’re building in your head as place markers for later, better ideas.  Better to leave the spot blank. An idea kept in place long enough will grow roots and be harder to see as casually, unattached to and thus discard.

With that said, some ideas i can have no idea how to pull off but just have faith i will. Those are okay as long as i don’t settle for a substandard idea of how to do it. Often when thinking about this type of idea i will think substandard ideas. It’s tricky. I must remain vigilant that i haven’t solved the problem and a better solution will present itself when the time comes.

From a character point of view Phase 2 progresses from having ideas about the character and character details to being able to slip into their point of view. Not do anything but see from their point of view and think of the type of musical moods and visual images i that come while doing this. Musical moods are certainly importnant, but the visual images are key to my process too. Woman on boat in mist. Underground caverns with archaic machinery. Fireflies in a cool photographic light circling a girl’s head in the dark. These images i like a lot. They inspire the music that will be built.

The music will be built by shooting an arrow in a particular direction and beginning to walk in that direction. Once the journey is underway, arriving at the arrow is irrelevant and for me personally, never, ever happens. Always, always, always the piece takes on a life of its own and i adjust direction to follow it. The less open i am to adjusting to suit what arises, the worse i do. Musical ideas before the actual compositional work is underway are not to be engraved in stone. Doesn’t work for me.

So there you go. My attempt to document the writing of an opera “act” (or in this case, album long opera instead of double album long opera) and Phase 2. What i’m writing is not some staunch rule i learned and follow religiously. I don’t normally think about the process with such examination of it. I’m only doing that now for the purposes of description and documentation. You know, for the hell of it.



Posted by on September 5, 2014 in Uncategorized


The Swans: The Seer

Swans - The Seer

The album i’m currently really into at the moment, mostly due to finally having a car stereo after all this time and being able to play and enjoy music i normally wouldn’t respond to as well at the tail end of my day which used to be my only real listening time, is The Swans To Be Kind.

It’s music i normally wouldn’t play, which i why i’m really into it. I need NEW STUFF coming in my ears.

I can’t post the actual tracks i really love here, can’t find them in a postable form online, so i’m gonna feature the album before To Be Kind, The Seer.

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Posted by on September 4, 2014 in Uncategorized


The Discarded Pirate Song (with a very, very special middle section)

Cover by Trevor List

In fact i believe the middle section of this tune to be my finest hour. When you listen, think Beethoven’s 9th, the 4th Movement.

So as many of you are aware, at the beginning of the summer i released the soundtrack to A Pirate’s Tale, a pirate musical i wrote the songs and lyrics for with book by Shaun Rolly. Well, this is a discarded song from that musical, never used or heard, worth one last breath of sunshine particularly for the middle section, which like i said, is quite possibly my finest moment.

At the time i made this, all the songs where very heavy and ponderous and we decided we really needed a light number, something cute and funny. So this was the demo i made for a comic relief song sung by the bumbling Jonathon (who is the comic relief of the script). Eventually it was discarded and i wrote instead Abagail’s Jig which definitely works better. However, since Shaun has dug this song up to put on the Pirate’s Tale Facebook page, i figured i’d give it one last spin before it gets retired again.

So, discarded, light hearted pirate song, (Initial demo version. It’s rough.)


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Posted by on August 30, 2014 in Uncategorized


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