“Lucky Man” By The Verve

ZombieAnother music and memory post today!  This is the fifth in my “With Music” series. The others  so far included a song by Ben Folds Five (you can read it here), Sheryl Crow (here), one of the best songs ever by Beth Orton (here) and an embarrassing love for a Dean Martin single (here).  This time, I take on a lost week and a zombie.  Enjoy!

The easiest way to describe radio drama in the United States is to compare it to a zombie.

While in England and other European countries you can still find radio dramas (new and old) on their stations (many time with famous actors and writers supplying the talent), here it is something different. When television came around, the media world couldn’t have dropped it faster and all of the radio celebrities ran from the waves to the boxes.

Here is the thing though; it is not dead… well… not entirely.

It struggles, it grunts and it staggers forward, hands outstretched, craving listeners to bring it back, make it truly alive again. Not brains, ears is what the monster craves. Ears… Ears!

I have always had an obsession with radio plays. I remember the first time I heard The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was like a revelation. Douglas Adams took his crazy idea and with some sound effects and wonderful actors made a movie in my head that was better than any I could have hoped to have seen. I went from there to The Firesign Theater and then to old time radio. There was an AM station in my area that would play it randomly late at night, and as a kid I would stay up, leaning over the player, ready to press record on my tape deck if a show I loved came on.

There is something awe-inspiring to me about radio plays. They take really little to produce, anything can be a sound effect (Douglas Adams made the sounds of the end of the universe with a bath tub, for example), and you were playing in the mind of someone else. And since radio dramas rarely get bogged down with descriptions, the listener is really an active audience, dressing the characters and the set with their imagination. It’s a personal experience, and the audience can own it as much as the performers.

So when I started to dream of being a writer, my first thoughts were all about radio. I wanted to capture the zombie and give it new life, I didn’t want to be eaten.

Yes, I dreamed of feeding it ears. Continue reading

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Singing Devils, Tigers, Hell and College Students! Discover the Comedy of THE DANTE EXPERIENCE

The Dante Experience“…a cross between Monty Python, the Marx Brothers, and the Airplane movies.” — Bennet Pomerantz, AudioWorld, January 2002

My comedy radio series The Dante Experience is now available to listen to directly via my site! Actually, the buttons right below. (I know you see them.) How cool is that?

Inspired by Monty Python and Douglas Adams, The Dante Experience (winner of the Golden Headset, and many other radio competitions) was produced by Mind’s Ear Audio Productions. I am really proud of this mad little series. I hope you will press play. (You know you want to.)

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Episode 6

Episode 7

Episode 8

Episode 9

Episode 10

You can learn more about my series on The Dante 3 page.  If you would like to order a copy of the series, you can do so via the catalog for Mind’s Ear (here).

Hello to my now 1200 subscribers! And now for something completely different…

My heroesYesterday, my subscription list passed the 1200 mark!

So very cool! I hope each of you visiting this site continue to enjoy my writing. And I have a lot planned over the next few months, including a new book I hope to share over the summer.

I decided I wanted to do something different to celebrate this new milestone for my site. As some of my older followers know I used to do a lot of writing around radio drama. I’ve had quite a few radio comedy plays performed by different radio companies and I have even had a 10-episode radio comedy series produced. It was called The Dante Experience and was heard on a few NPR stations around this country. (You can learn more about the series and listen to all of the episodes on this page.)

One of my favorite comedies I have written for radio though has never been performed. It is called “The Classic Geography Club” and, as you will see, is VERY influenced by the work of Monty Python and Firesign Theatre. You can check it out exclusively below!

I hope you enjoy “The Classic Geography Club” and thank you for following my site!

Continue reading

Radio Days or When I Was a DJ or Finding Voices

Claudius was hereI used to have nightmares because of Latin class.

I took Latin when I was in school for three years, between 7th and 9th grade. I was drawn to the classes, not because of it being a gateway to other languages, but more because of its literary history.  See, by this point, I was reading everything I could get my hands on, and usually my focus was on the classics, not what typical junior high kids were devouring. “No, thank you. You can keep your Stephen King, I’m re-reading Hemingway this week.”

Latin was a tie to great mythology, it was a connection to those random quotes in a novel that I had no idea what was being said. In a literary sense, it felt like the opportunity to dig around the base of a tree and see the root underneath.

The teacher of the classes was Mr. Black, and looking back over those three years with him I still can’t put my finger really on his personality. He could go up and down pretty quickly, did he like to teach or hate it? Did he even like us or hate us? Now I almost wonder if he was bipolar, and that could explain the oddness of the experience. (He would also show us I, Claudius in class, if you can believe it. He would run up with a big piece of paper to cover up the screen whenever the “naughty bits” would come on; of course, most of the time he didn’t get to the TV in time.  Yes, he taught kids like me all about the history of Caligula.)

Mr. Black would have the students recite and speak Latin in class, and while I was basically average in reading Latin on the page, I couldn’t do it aloud. It was too much for my tongue. It is those moments that used to haunt me, standing up, hands sweaty, all of the eyes on me as I tried to recite a passage perfectly. The other students would sometimes hide their laughter, many times they didn’t. And there was Mr. Black in the front shaking his head, frowning, with almost a mocking smirk hiding behind his eyes. Continue reading

Notes From THE HONEYMOON, What Would Have Been the Last Part of The Dante 3

While creating the scripts for Time Out Of Mind, the proposed sequel to The Dante Experience, I began to take notes and scribble ideas for the third and final part, which had the working title of The Honeymoon.

I always knew I wanted the series to be a trilogy. Where I saw the first part being the afterlife and the second being time, I wanted the third to be a little more personal, and less large scale.  For some reason I became fascinated by the idea of putting as many of my characters as I could on a boat in the middle of the ocean… and seeing what happens.

After sending Time Out Of Mind to Mind’s Ear and realizing it was not going to happen, my notes and scenes for The Honeymoon became… well… history. Continue reading

Episode Ten: Time Out Of Mind

Episode 10 of

Time Out Of Mind,

The sequel to

The Dante Experience

“Gettysburg”

OPENING CREDITS

Scene 1

SOUND: Of Heaven

MICHAEL: Hazzah, your stellarness! I have good news for you. The communication link has been set up and I can get our team to fight the dragons!

REPAIR ANGEL: I said, I would fix it… All you had to do was wait.

MICHAEL: Not now! I’m talking to the big guy…Anyway, your infiniteness, I’m about to make contact with our team. Jenkins, can you hear me? Hello?

Scene 2

SOUND: Of Beach.

MICHAEL: Jenkins.

JENKINS: Oh, great, it’s Angel Michael.

ALL: (Sigh) Continue reading

Episode Nine: Time Out Of Mind

Episode 9 of

Time Out Of Mind,

The Sequel to

The Dante Experience

“Two Roberts for the Price of One”

OPENING CREDITS

Scene 1

SOUND: Of Heaven.

REPAIR ANGEL: Best out of three?

KELLII: Ok. You move first.

MICHAEL: Can you two stop playing that game! This is the throne room and I am doing important things. The big guy doesn’t want to see you playing a board game.

KELLII: I don’t hear him complaining.

REPAIR ANGEL: Actually, I haven’t heard him at all since I’ve been here.

MICHAEL: Can you two please stop judging the maker.

KELLII: Is he even awake?… Hello? Anyone there? Continue reading

That Damn Blank Piece of Paper: A May Writing Update

That Dante Thang

I’ve really loved re-discovering the world of The Dante Experience (You can hear the original production of the first part and the first scripts for the unproduced sequel, Time Out Of Mind, here). Maybe I am the only one reading the scripts for its sequel Time Out Of Mind, or listening to the original radio episodes; but, hey, it makes me happy, so there (Try to be nice Scott, the post has just started).

And because of this, I’ve started really thinking about how this comedy series can come back to life again; because, I truly think with the right cast and production it can have a following like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. That is a thought that is always at the back of mind.

Well, I have an idea to bring it back to life finally, but the idea of how to move forward with it is the sticky point. See, I know who I want as my entire cast. Continue reading

Episode Five: Time Out Of Mind

Episode 5 of

Time Out Of Mind,

the sequel to

The Dante Experience

“A Night at the Theater”

OPENING CREDITS

Scene 1

SOUND: Of Heaven.

MICHAEL: Hello, your holiness, I have returned. I’m sorry about all that and my date. I’m so red. I mean, if angels could blush I would be red, not red like a devil or anything. Red just doesn’t work for me. Tried dressing up as a devil once for Halloween. I had this little tail and pitchfork and I was poking people with it and you probably don’t want to hear about that. Anyway, I brought some paradise cleaner that should help the mess and… Ok, I’ll just put it here.

SOUND: Putting cleaning supplies down.

MICHAEL: Ok, let me boot up my computer and the surveillance equipment and the video players and see what I have missed. Let’s see… Well, at least some good news since we know that one of the dragons is in Camelot. Of course, you can’t help but wonder what the other dragons have gone and what they are planning and… Do you wonder things like that? I mean… Nevermind. So the group is in the right spot. The group, now including Benjamin Franklin, are in the court of King Arthur. Our team of General Joseph, Jenkins and Dante are… Hmmm… Oh, here they are.

SOUND: Computer Beep.

MICHAEL: They have escaped France after having their heads chopped off and have been transported by the Angel Transportation League to a small village near Camelot. Continue reading

Episode Four: Time Out Of Mind

Episode 4 of

Time Out Of Mind,

the sequel to

The Dante Experience

“Michael Has a Date”

OPENING CREDITS

Scene 1

SOUND: Of Heaven

MICHAEL: (Flying in) Hello, hello. Sir. I received your page. What’s going on is something wrong? What is that you have there?

SOUND: Paper rustling.

MICHAEL: For me? Ok, let me just read this note and… Ok, you really didn’t need the swear words! All you had to do was ask? I’ll tell you what is going on? No problem. I’ll just boot up the system here and as I do, I will tell you…

SOUND: Computer booting up.

MICHAEL: Ok, there we go… In the year 3020, genetic engineers on earth have developed the capability to create dragons. And these creatures, as I’ve been told by those damn future watchers, were used to for sport at amusement parks. See, mankind has always had a fascination with dragons- from bad movies to bad… well, frankly a lot of bad things, probably one of the reasons that the dragons are upset right there. Anyway, these futuristic dragons would be created, raised for a week then killed for sport by a knight… Now where the problem took place is that they kept recreating the same dragons! You see what I am getting at?… No? Ok, well, these dragons hate being brought to life and being killed over and over again, so one of the smart ones, Smaug is his name, decided to seek revenge. So him and his fellow dragons broke out of the lab early and stole a time traveling device in the hope of destroying mankind in the past where he doesn’t have the tools to fight back… Of course what they don’t realize is if they destroy man in the past, they will be erased from existence…

SOUND: Of computer beeping.

MICHAEL: And if they go back too far, maybe wipe all of us out of existence… Not you, of course, but for us it is sticky situation.  Right now, the only people that can save the day are the group from the Dante Experience since they were given the weapon from the knight. And, as luck would have it, they have already killed one of the five in revolutionary Paris and…

KELLII: (chewing gum) What is this place? What is that smell? It smells like incense. Continue reading