Friday, August 29, 2014

Your Labor Day Entertainment: Heston vs. Killer Ants!

Hey, first a heads up.  Yes the title has the word 'naked' in it, but there is no nudity in this thriller.  Sorry.  There's nothing better than nudity on the radio.  But what this does have is Charlton Heston duking it out with hordes of killer ants!  Some classic "Hestonisms" here too delivering sexist lines as only he can.  I think I've written about this before but this was the first audio drama I'd ever heard, caught it on a road trip as a little kid and it really stuck with me.  If you want to know - I can tell you how they made the sound of the ants, but only if you want to know.

This is the original Lux Radio Theater production courtesy of Sci Fi Emporium.  If you care to branch out into the movie version, you can get that HERE.

As we segue from Bea Little to Escape! (The End of Humanity Song) which arrives next week.  This can be your weekend supplement.  I plan on listening to it on my new Harmon Kardon Wireless Speaker (assuming it arrives on time).  I'll let you know how it sounds!

Enjoy your labor day!

- CW

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"Where the hell did that idea come from?"

Casey Wolfe here - just contributed the bloody and screaming podplay, "Bea Little" to the fine folks at Earbud Theater.  It went live last Saturday and got a decent reception in large part due to the elevating performances of Sean Keller and Melissa Graver (who play John and Beatrice respectively).  Also because it features a rather disgusting use of a power drill which brings me to the point of this missive.

There was a moment during the editing of the podplay where I was suddenly taken aback, "Hey, this is some sick shit.  What the hell, dude?  Where did that idea come from?"  It took me about two seconds to reach back in my brain and figure it out as the source was a typical entry in the childhood-trauma department and therefore has never completely gone away.

I was about eight or nine years old and when my Mom would go shopping at the Base Exchange (grew up an Air Force brat and this was where the military would go for their department store-esque purchases), I'd have to tag along.  Once inside, she'd go off and do her thing and I'd go over to the magazine rack and wait it out reading whatever I could find until she was done.  Usually this would be a comic from the Marvel universe or, if I was particularly lucky, MAD Magazine - perfect for sporadic reading.  But this time, there was something there that usually wasn't (and, tellingly, was never present afterward).

It looked like a comic book, but there was no superhero on the cover.  Instead there was a desiccated, face - a grinning, rotting corpse staring straight at me.  Naturally, I had to pick it up.  Flipping through the pages, I'd never seen anything like it.  Violent imagery that landed with great impact probably due to the fantastic artists rendering the nightmares.  I don't know who drew the particular issue, but here's a pretty good example from artist Jack Kamen:

Jack Kamen

There were three stories, blood, knives, axes, corpses.  This wasn't supposed to be on display for some kid to come and look at, I was in illegal territory and freaked out.  So, naturally, I had to explore further.

The story I read was something called (to the best of my recollection, I have been unable to find this since) "The Organ Grinder."  It centered on a husband and wife who clearly hated each other.  Maybe one found out the other was cheating, I forget the reason for the conflict, just that it was there.  Anyway, in a fit of rage the wife ends up killing the husband and then - to dispose of the body - SHE CHOPS HIM UP AND PUTS PIECE AFTER PIECE OF HIM IN A MEAT GRINDER UNTIL HE'S NOTHING BUT A GORY SOUP!  Holy shit!  Totally repulsive and nauseating.  Naturally, I had to explore further.  The wife rinses the 'husband soup' down the drain and mops up the mess until everything's spotless.  Problem solved, right?  Wrong.

When she's finished taking care of the corpse she fixes herself a nice warm bath, strips down (what's up titillation!?) and slips in.  And then it happens... bloop.... BLOOP... Bubbles start coming up from the drain and then suddenly THE REANIMATED GRUE THAT WAS HER HUSBAND COMES BACK UP THROUGH THE DRAIN, WRAPS HIMSELF (ITSELF?) AROUND HER LIKE THE BLOB OR VENOM OR SOMETHING AND PROCEEDS TO SQUEEZE, CHOKE AND DROWN HER UNTIL SHE'S DEAD.  That's it.  Over.  Done.  Shellshock.  Magazine back on rack.  Leave the store and ride shotgun in the family station wagon contemplating the transgression I'd just experienced.

It really freaked me out, but you know what?  When we were back there the next week, I was looking for that magazine.  This, I've noticed is a common trait among horror fans - especially as kids - that we can experience something that completely terrifies us and yet return to that well again.  And again.  There's a great podcast about exactly this over at The Daily Grindhouse (one of the first ten episodes when they were hosted by G and The Man Called Perry.  It's possibly the Monster Squad episode where they interview Fred Dekker).  And there's a website called Kindertrauma completely devoted to this exact phenomenon.  You should check it out.  (In fact, I'm going to see if anyone there can figure out what magazine it was I was reading - Tales From the Crypt seems likely but could be something different entirely.  If you know, leave a comment below, I'd love to revisit it.)

Anyway - there you go.  A little insight into the seed from which would eventually grow "Bea Little."  I can only hope that some unsuspecting youngster happens across the podplay and freaks him or herself out so much that years later they create something equally twisted.  Because apparently, terrifying is fun. 

- CW

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Episode 10 Bea Little

Well, we managed to overcome some laptop issues, connection issues, childhood trauma issues and a fight with management - but here it is, the latest podplay, Bea Little.  And only a day late.  Will have more to say about this later in an upcoming blog post, so for now, let's just give credit where credit is due:

Melissa Graver - Bea Little
Sean Keller - John Little
Branon Coluccio - Lewison


"Headache" by Frank Black

Aaron Drown and Casey Wolfe

Written and Directed by Casey Wolfe

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lament for the death of a laptop...

So, last night we hit the booth, courtesy of Mr. Aaron Drown, and Nicholas Thurkettle directed his piece, Escape! (The End of Humanity Song) with a truly killer cast of actors.  Suffice it to say, we've never had a story like it and it truly shines. Can't wait for you to hear it, but I'm not here to talk about that, I'm here to talk about disaster...

You may remember us touting the recording this months episode a few weeks back.  Well, it's nearly done (and it's a killer, oh BOY is it a killer.).  Barring a few tweaks it's finished, and ready to make the mentioned July 11th release date.  Except maybe not.  Because at the moment it's locked inside a dull silver square to which access has been denied.  A dead laptop.  Are there backup files?  Sure. Is there another means of putting the final touches on it!  Maybe.  But see in the deep, dark caves here at Earbud there's not a ton of access to tech, not like you surface dwellers have anyway.

Anyway, there may be something new for you tomorrow or maybe not.  What we CAN offer you is a little sneak peek. So without further ado, here is the spot art for our maybe July release, Bea Little.

Drawn by the amazing Phil Jimenez

Is that freaking cool or what!?   Stay tuned Earbuds...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

For your convenience... iTunes.

That little button up there - small but powerful.  We know you're used to the ol' right-click-save drag'n'drop model of saving our podplays to your podplayer, but those days are over for you, friends!  Journey over to the iTunes store courtesy this teleportation device:

And subscribe.  Write a review, heck, if you do that - gosh - that'd be swell.  And of course, share, spread the word, the weirdness, the wordness.  And if you haven't listened to Habitat - our latest and greatest - do it!

We now return you to your dimension.  We think it's your dimension, anyway.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Episode 9 - Habitat

Habitat is our 9th podplay exclusively constructed for Earbud Theater.  We hope you like it - Nicholas Thurkettle is the (super) brainchild behind this one and has a bit to say about it.  Take it away Nick!

Written/Edited by Nicholas Thurkettle
Performed by
Danna – Christine Weatherup 
Interface – Nicholas Thurkettle
Produced by Casey Wolfe, Aaron Drown & Branon Coluccio
Voice Direction by Matt Enlow 
Music by Chris Zabriskie 
Spot Art by Kevin Necessary 

Habitat arose out of an epiphany about myself and science fiction. I have been a hardcore, no regrets sci-fi fan ever since my parental units gifted me Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. As a pre-adolescent with more math skills than social skills, Asimov’s psychohistory gave me faith that the world could make sense – not that it did, but that it could. Later, as an oddball adolescent, Vonnegut gave me company and solace and the beginnings of a courage to embrace my oddities.

I have grown into a shameless nerd culture slut. But for many years as a grown-up writer, I avoided writing sci-fi. I psyched myself out of it because, frankly, I was terrible at science. As a worshipper of Asimov, whose tremendous scientific mind informed both his projections of the future and his perfectly-distilled prose, I feared my own science weakness would leave me writing knockoffs, or get me secretly laughed-at in science get-togethers like the ones at NASA where they screen Armageddon (I have read that this happens and I reject any suggestion that it isn’t completely true.)

But when I read sci-fi greats writing about their genre, I noticed a common thread of them railing against their genre label as a misnomer. Sci-Fi wasn’t about science, they reached out to assure me, but about the imagination, about possibilities, about using the fantastical to explore humanity. I started to notice that in some of the best sci-fi I knew, the science and the setting were barely-relevant, or simply served as a Trojan Horse for the good stuff. The episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called The Inner Light – where Captain Picard lives an entire alternate life through family and infirmity and beautiful little hobbies and finally doom on an alien planet – gets him there via more gobbledy-gook than science: a probe thing zaps his brain with a ray thing and the crew can’t wake him up because we’re not done with the plot yet, thank you very much.

And what a plot; raising the awesome questions: what matters in a life? Is a culture known in its relics and its records or in its values, the daily way its people were with each other? Do we understand one another with reason or with feelings; or do we need both to do it right? Sci-fi, as well as horror and fantasy and other realms where Earbud Theater dwells, allows us to look at these questions in a way realism cannot.

Stories about humanity?, I thought. I can take a crack at that.

I remembered the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, where Dr. Bowman appears to be growing old in a handsome, sterile room somewhere beyond infinity. I thought about the interpretation that the aliens could be biding their time while he lived out his normal span so that he could be reborn on the brink of death. Given how often Kubrick depicted spiritually-deadened people in cold environments, it struck me that of course he thought all a person would need would be sufficient food and some nice furniture. A real person in that situation, I thought, would go nutzo.

This felt interesting, and I liked it all the more because it didn’t call for me to create sinister aliens or an end-of-the-world scenario (actually, wait for my next Earbud episode on that one.) These aliens could be entirely benign, and want badly to help, but would be hapless in a way that anyone who had ever blown a relationship by failing to understand their partner’s needs could understand.

Speaking of Asimov and Star Trek, the character of Data, who introduced himself as a realization of Asimov’s concept of androids as devoted servants and attempted students of humanity, had a major impact on me in life and in this piece. Data was my high school nickname, and not because I asked for it; and Brent Spiner has enough DNA in Interface that there ought to be a paternity test.

I have known Christine Weatherup and her husband Matt Enlow for many years, since she showed up to audition for a play I wrote and won the part thoroughly. We have collaborated frequently since then, always with great pleasure. She is an actress of tremendous range and courage and willingness to play; that, and Matt’s vision and directorial confidence, his ability to coax out both the laughs and the heart inside seriously quirky material, were both part of the plan for Habitat from the beginning.

I wrote the first draft in a week, intending it to be a short film, but as Tolkein once wrote: “This tale grew in the telling.” I realized we needed time to really take Danna on something resembling the human journey, and even with this version of Habitat realized, I never get tired of writing about Danna and Interface, and their attempts to get through this thing called Life.

It was my longtime friend Branon Coluccio, one of the smartest men I have ever met in Hollywood when it comes to wrangling this unropeable beast called “story”, who suggested Habitat’s possibilities for the audioverse, and introduced me to Earbud Theater, a fantastical sandbox Casey Wolfe has lovingly built which I have reveled in and now plan on refusing to vacate.

Now that we have all reached this moment of shepherding Habitat into the world, I can’t be more proud and thrilled than to have had these partners on the journey, not to mention grateful that I had parents cool enough to give their kid Asimov books. Hopefully I get to be that cool someday.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Audioverse Awards 2013

A picture is worth a thousand words.  Here's two thousand words:

Thanks to EVERYONE who helped pitch in to make these.  It was a ton of fun and we're looking forward to the next batch of audio-goodness.