Why The Littlest Angel is the worst holiday story… ever

The First Cover for the "classic"When The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell was published in 1946 it was a holiday phenomenon. This “classic” story has since been published numerous times (with many different illustrated versions); made into movies (cartoon, musical, and live action); and in the list of best-selling children stories of all time (!) it comes up in the top 20. 

Heck, even holiday crooner Bing Crosby sang a song based on the plot of it! 

I remember the first time I heard this story. It was at catechism. and the teacher read it to us as if she was bestowing a great holiday gift on us children. I can still see her smile. While the other kids casually sat near me with crossed legs, I remember really being bothered by the story. I couldn’t put my finger on it then, but that reaction to the tale has never gone away for me. And that day, I raised my hand for I had some questions.

My hand is still up in the air.

The fact is, after thinking about it far too much, and being haunted by it like Marley’s ghost each year, I can’t escape my problems with this narrative. I have come to the opinion that this Christmas traditional yarn is… just awful. Horrendous. Possibly the worst holiday story. Oh, God, it is just bad.

Okay, it takes a lot for a story to be a worst holiday yarn than the appalling song “The Christmas Shoes” (which for those lucky not to know is the materialistic and disturbing ditty about an ignorant child who leaves his dying mother’s bedside to go shopping, assuming that the shoes he puts on her feet will go with her soul to heaven and there impress Jesus), but The Littlest Angel does it. It does it ten times over.

Grab a cup of hot chocolate and a Christmas cookie, snuggle in by the fireplace, and let me tell you why… Continue reading

Episode Eight: Time Out Of Mind

Episode 8 of

Time Out Of Mind,

The Sequel to

The Dante Experience

“Dinner With the Folks”

OPENING CREDITS

Scene 1

SOUND: Of heaven and a computer typing.

MICHAEL: Ok, I have some bad news…

SOUND: Of computer stops typing.

MICHAEL: I’ve been searching for three hours now and I can’t find our group of heroes. Ever since Adam threw that rock and hit the time machine, our team has been lost in time… They could be anywhere.

KELLII: Can we play another game now?

REPAIR ANGEL: I have Stratego.

KELLII: Yeah, get that one. Anything better than Monopoly. Monopoly just doesn’t work for two people.

MICHAEL: Can you two please leave?

KELLII: I want to wait and see what happens next?

MICHAEL: What happens next? I’ll tell you what happens next! Your father shows up and kicks my…

REPAIR ANGEL: Hey, let’s watch the language.

KELLII: So he is a little protective.

MICHAEL: He threatened me for just taking you on a date!

KELLII: See, protective.

REPAIR ANGEL: Wait until he sees the website you created. Continue reading

My April 2012 Update

What was that thing T. S. Elliot said about April… Okay, it is on the tip of my tongue. Oh, I’m sure I will get it sooner or later.

All I can say, is I am glad there is no reference to cats in the Wasteland. It’s still mind-blowing to me that the guy who wrote Wasteland also created the poems that inspired years of dancers dressed like cats spinning on a stage to Andrew Lloyd Weber music… But I digress.

The article that won’t go away…

Back in March, I wrote a personal reflection inspired by the closing of my high school (here). I already wrote in detail about the reaction to the article in my March update (here). To sum up, I hit a nerve with a lot of people and it was huge for me. It went on to have over 1300 views, spurring a sequel article (I felt I had to react to the loss of the school in a more straightforward-here-is-my-opinion way), and numerous, numerous comments on my site. Continue reading

Episode One: Time Out Of Mind

Episode 1 of

Time Out Of Mind,

the sequel to

The Dante Experience

“A Whole New Mess”

OPENING CREDITS

Scene 1

SOUND: Of God’s throne room.

MICHAEL: Good morning your holy sir. It’s me, Angel Michael X34267-1. I know, I know you banned me from your throne room after the, ahh, incident last year. I don’t know how I can be blamed for the Dante Experience but… You’re making that face again. You’re making that face and so I know you are not happy and…

SOUND: Lighting!

MICHAEL: Whoa, Whoa! Come on! Let’s be reasonable here. Do you seriously think I would bother the big Guy if I didn’t have a reason? I’m not stupid…. Ok, I’m stupid. I agree with you there. But this is important. And there is a reason why I was chosen to discuss the situation with you.

MOVING ANGEL: Where do you want this stuff?

MICHAEL: Oh, great the computer supplies are here. Just set them up here.

MOVING ANGEL: Wow, is that who I think it is?

MICHAEL: Yeah, it is… Don’t stare, he doesn’t like it. Continue reading

Episode 10 (the last one!) of The Dante Experience

This is it, people! The battle at the gates of heaven is about to begin!

The final episode of The Dante Experience, the award-winning series produced by Mind’s Ear Audio Productions is up for your listening pleasure. You can listen to the episode here:

If you are interested in owning your own copy of this creation of Hell, please visit amazon.com (here) or contact Mind’s Ear Audio Productions via their Web site (here). Next week, I begin to share the scripts to the second part of The Dante 3Time Out Of Mind.

Introducing Time Out Of Mind

I gave myself one month. Continue reading

Episode 9 of The Dante Experience (including an interview with executive producer, Dana Dyer Pierson!)

Today brings us the penultimate episode of The Dante Experience! What a long, crazy ride through Hell it has been.

Today, I am also proud to share an interview with Dana Dyer Pierson, executive producer and sound designer for The Dante Experience! So to begin you can listen to episode 9 here:

Share and enjoy!

Dana Dyer Pierson

Dana Dyer Pierson, along with her husband Joel Pierson, created the award-winning Mind’s Ear Audio Productions. They created such nationally honored productions as French Quarter, Children’s Zoo and The Dante Experience. Besides producing Dante, Dana also created the sound design; a series that included everything from a musical number in Hell, to a boxing match, to a TV talk show! Every time I listen to the series I am just floored by her work on the series.

What inspired you to work in radio?

I chalk it all up to lazy babysitting, honestly. When I was little and my older brothers tired of me, they would plop me into a wingchair, put some headphones on my tiny head, and drop the needle on one of their sound effects records. I was entranced by these random noises—and would unconsciously start creating stories to make sense of them. Thus, by accident, a sound designer and playwright was born. Continue reading

You know you want to listen…

…to The Dante Experience, that is!

I just created on Soundcloud a set list, which means all of the episodes are in one place and you can listen to all of them back to back to back. Here it is:

http://soundcloud.com/scott-d-southard/sets/the-dante-experience/

And like with the Dante 3 page, I will add a new episode each week. I hope you enjoy this fast and new easy way to check out episodes 1 through 8.

Now go to Hell… In a good way with humor, of course. It’s a comedy about Hell and devils and the like, see… Geez, I am having a hard time walking that line between humor and inappropriateness with this series…

Episode 8 of The Dante Experience (including an interview with series director, Joel Pierson)

It’s Friday and today I have something special for you. Along with another trip to little ol’ Hell, I have an interview with series director, Joel Pierson.

So to start here is the link to today’s episode (8) of The Dante Experience:

Joel Pierson

Joel Pierson, besides being a very charming individual, is a writer and director of radio works. Along with his wife Dana they created the award-winning French Quarter and Children’s Zoo (You can learn more about those works via their Web site here). Recently, Joel has been working on a series of novels called The Messenger, you can find the books on amazon. Joel’s Web site is located here. Below the interview is an additional radio story for your listening pleasure- “A Camping Trip With Joe or My Search for the Meaning of It All.” It was directed by Joel as well. (The interview begins after the jump). Continue reading

Episode 7 of The Dante Experience

Where were you the first time you went to Hell? Well, if you have been listening to The Dante Experience chances are on a computer. Ha!

It’s Friday and time for episode 7 of The Dante Experience, the radio comedy series. You can hear today’s episode here:

You can catch up on previous episodes (and read more excerpts around the making of the series by the author, me) via the Dante 3 page on this blog.  If you would like to purchase a copy you can do so via amazon.com (here), or by contacting the producers at Minds’ Ear Audio Productions (here).

Exposure

Hearing your work come to life, for a writer in radio is a multilayered event. It is happy, but emotionally overwhelming; it is disappointing and surprising; it is a relief and a frustration; and there is a sense of peace. A great sense of peace because a chapter in your life is done. No matter what, that chapter is done. To be honest, it’s probably the same feeling I am sure most writers feel around movie, TV, and theater (Completing a novel is very different for me); and you relive in your mind all of the work you went through to get to that point. Continue reading

Episode Five of The Dante Experience

It is Friday and time for another trip to Hell. Here is Episode Five of The Dante Experience, the radio comedy I wrote that was produced by Minds’ Ear Audio Production. You can listen via this link:

You can catch up on the previous episodes via The Dante 3 page (link above). On The Dante 3 page you can also get more information where you can find the series.

Midwest Radio Theater Workshop

So I was busy into the writing of The Dante Experience, feeling like I had clear plan ahead of me for getting the work produced. Initally, I was more than happy with the idea of doing it on just the local Michigan State radio, I had no delusions of grandeur… yet.

Then I got the call from Joel Pierson and that changed in a hurry.

OK, to back up, I need to say something about myself and writing. See, at this point in my life I was always entering writing competitions- short stories, plays, screenplays, etc. If there was a competition and a reasonable fee for entry (not over 40 dollars) I would enter one of my work, cross my fingers and hope my check doesn’t bounce. Contests are a great way to build some name recognition and do something about the writing resume. Continue reading