Menu

Earblog

28 Articles

October One. Bring the horror.


Daheli Hall and Jared Rivet killing it

Hey so a couple weeks ago THIS happened. Two very talented individuals, Daheli Hall and Jared Rivet, were put through the wringer in the subterranean, soundproof booth where Earbud nabs its screams of horror and shrieks of pain.. and occasionally – certainly in this case – kick ass performances. It was a lot of fun and a lot of hard work. It’s always impressive to see people giving their all and then more after that. This particular episode is one of TWO that we’re unleashing on you for the month of October simply because it’s our favorite time of year.

We’ll keep you posted on the titles and release days of course, but in addition to that we’re going to have some recommendations for other superscary podplays you should check out. Because you can never get too much horror in your head when it’s Halloween season. Right guys?


Well, it’s not QUITE a centipede, but that’s okay, you’re not quite human

To get you kicked off, we’ll recommend a classic of our own making, the straight-up horror podplay Shift. Our first release and one of the more terrifying entries. Check it out.

And welcome to October.

Episode 11 – Escape! (The End of Humanity Song)


You’re married…? To a guy named Bananforth?

Hey, what does the number one movie of the summer and our latest podplay have in common? Besides both of them being awesome? I’ll let you make the connection. What we have here is yet another outstanding Earbud Theater production written and directed by Nicholas Thurkettle. Escape! (The End of Humanity Song) is an absolute blast and we wouldn’t blame you if you stopped reading and went straight over to listen- HEY! Where do you think you’re going? We’ve got some credits to get to here, don’t you want to know the talent involved? Well, all right then:

Escape! (The End of Humanity Song) written and directed by Nicholas Thurkettle

Produced by: Casey Wolfe, Aaron Drown and Branon Coluccio

Performed by:
Austin Rogers as Alex
Jim Van Over as Garland
Tosca Minotto as Perla
Jill Cary Martin as Jan Maloof
and
Matthew Henerson as Dr. Marlin Labat

Spot art by Kevin Necessary (who you can read about further below).
End Credits Music: Lá Lá é Lé Lé by Bohemios da Cidade
Special thanks to Rupert Holmes

Okay, now you can go listen. And don’t for get to mosey on over to iTunes and subscribe. And if you haven’t already – please feel free to rate and/or write a review. Those things really help expand our reach. Thanks, cats. NOW you can go listen.

Kevin Necessary – Spotlight on the Artist

So, tomorrow sees the release of Nicholas Thurkettle’s Escape! (The End of Humanity Song) and we’ll go into greater detail on that then. But for now we want to set aside some time to focus on the talented man who did the art for this particular episode (heads up: we’re going to be expanding our artist focus in the next few months so pay attention – some neat stuff should pop up). Since he knocked it out of the park with his piece for Habitat, Nick was all to eager to invite Kevin Necessary back and Kevin was gracious enough to accept. Without further ado, let’s unveil the “podart” for the episode that you may pour over it, analyze it for plot clues and just plain admire a kick-ass piece of art:

Look! Art you can drink!

Lovely isn’t it? But what does it mean? WHAT. DOES. IT. MEAN? You can find that out tomorrow, in the meantime a big thank you to Kevin and here’s a little interview Nick conducted with the artist himself:

Q: Who are some of the major influences you draw from when it’s time to come up with an image?

A: Who are some of my influences? Yikes. How much space do you have? I love simple, effective design work, like the stuff Saul Bass created back in the 1960s, to the Frank R. Paul, who illustrated these garishly wonderful pulp magazine covers in the 1920s. I’ve been heavily inspired by cartoonists such as Bill Waterson, and my hometown hero (and friend), Jim Borgman. I find inspiration from as many sources as I can. Though I do my best not to emulate them, I try to find what it is about that work that fires up my imagination, and do my damnedest to express those emotions through the prism of my own work.

But if there’s one artist that has truly influenced me, it was Ralph McQuarrie. He was the first concept artist on the original Star Wars Trilogy, and I was exposed to his artwork almost as soon as I was exposed to the films themselves. His concept art helped me go from wanting to be Luke Skywalker, to wanting to be the one who creates the world Luke Skywalker lives in.

Q: You seem to resonate strongly with the sci-fi/fantasy/horror material that Earbud traffics in. Can you give us a very brief history of your relationship with this genre and what some of your own favorites are?

A: One of the first books I remember my parents reading to me was The Hobbit. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t watching, reading, or listening to science fiction and fantasy. And I really do love the old pulpy stuff. The Twilight Zone (Five Characters in Search of an Exit and The Lonely are favorites). Forbidden Planet. Stories such as The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin, and The Hell-Bound Train by Robert Bloch. Dune, the Foundation Series. And I’ve listened to a ton of X-Minus One.

Q: In the early days of pulp sci-fi, sometimes the writers came up with their stories based on the artwork as opposed to the other way around. What do you love to draw that could easily be the subject of an Earbud podplay?

A: I’ll throw two images at you.

I’ve had an image in my head for years about a Ming the Merciless-style villian, the type you’d find in any 1930s serial, with a shocked look on his face as he stands over the smoldering body of the story’s hero — who was shot by one of the henchmen and is now quite dead. Also gaping in surprise are the damsel in distress and the hero’s sidekick. None of them know what to do. I think it’d be a funny story.

The other image: A man sits by a porthole in a darkened room on a space station. Visible in the window looms the dark blue eye of Neptune, casting dim light onto the scene.

Q: Where can our listeners go to see more of your work and buy some of it?

A: I don’t have anything for officially for sale — yet! But you can visit my site, www.kevinnecessary.com, and if there’s something there you see that you want, drop me a line and we’ll work something out.

Q: And lastly – if you were at a bar when the world was coming to an end, what would you order at last call?

A: I would order the best bourbon they had, neat. Guess I’d better make sure I’m at a decent bar when the world ends. I don’t want to be stuck with only Jim Beam as a choice.

Very nice. Great work, Kevin. And we’ll see you all back here on September 5th for the release of Escape! (The End of Humanity Song).

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.

– EBT

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!

Habitat
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.

Enjoy!

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.

EPISODE 8 – CARL

Well, hi. We’re back after a ridiculous break (explained on the main website, I can’t bear to repeat the reason here) and we deliver unto you our latest podplay, Carl. Written by the amazing Elizabeth Bartucci, Carl is epic, cosmic and will take your mind to the very edge of the universe (and maybe your heart too). We liked the writing so much we went into the computer Tron style (1982 Tron) and conducted a little interview with Ms. Bartucci. You can read that below, but first enjoy Carl, then read the interview, then listen to Carl again. (“Carl,” by the way, is very fun to say repeatedly)

Written by
Elizabeth Bartucci

Performed by
Aaron – Jeff Cannata
Carl – Conrad Allan
Mike – Seamus O’Toole

Produced by Aaron Drown & Casey Wolfe
Directed by Casey Wolfe

Spot art: Michael J. Canales

Music by: Oh, a bunch of people. Jimmy Hendrix, Bobby Darin, Van Morrison, The Beatles, Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan… all of them rock stars.

EBT: Hi Liz! (Is it Liz or Elizabeth?)

LIZ: Liz.

EBT: Before we get started – what song do you have in your head right now?

LIZ: The Roots’ “How I Got Over” plays on a loop on my CD player and in my head to the dismay of my neighbors.

EBT: You’re much hipper than me. For some reason I have that Human League song about the guy and the former cocktail waitress. Real power struggle song and I imagine that relationship is just ripe with drama. Wouldn’t want to hang out with those two.

LIZ: Don’t You Want Me OOOOOoooo.

EBT: Yes, that’s the song! Oooo is right…Anyway. HI! So, we first met in a certain city on the west coast where good things used to happen, sometimes still do, but mostly don’t. You and your writing were one of those good things. I believe I’d read a script of yours called EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALL RIGHT (or am I getting that wrong?)

LIZ: Yes, and you left a message on my machine about how much you loved it. I saved it for a very long time – and it must have meant something to me, because I had to save the entire phone to keep the message.

EBT: Ha! That’s awesome! It was a very moving piece, sort of about post 9/11 but not overtly. I’m not doing it justice in the description but your voice is very unique and has a style of writing that sets the bar for other scripts I read. How long have you been at this?

LIZ: Thank you! Now I have to save this Mac Book Pro. I’ve been writing since a young girl, but I started writing screenplays after I graduated from the Actors Studio Masters Program and when I started working for Big Sky Edit. I like to tell people I was raised by Editors – which helped me write efficiently and with more pictures than words. Everything Is Going To Be Alright still opens doors for me.

EBT: Actually, I can see how that would make one a better writer. The piece you wrote for us is called Carl. It’s clever, funny and way out there – how did you come up with this idea?

LIZ: I’m a big fan of RadioLab. And I was listening to the podcast on a long train ride. I heard the one about Voyager and Ann Druyan and it moved me so much. Mainly, the love story about Carl and Ann. I guess people (on the train) thought I was listening to sad songs.

EBT: Tears?

LIZ: Oh yes. The train ride and the disembodied voices physically helped me as well – got my body into the idea of traveling and movement. Longing. I’m easily ‘moved.’

EBT: Is this the first audio drama you’ve written?

LIZ: It is! Though, when I use to write plays, I’d stay in the back or the lobby of the theatre, and just ‘listen.’ So the experience is kind of the same – except I can’t make changes. That’s tough.

EBT: It’s kinda fun isn’t it? A bit more intimate. Different set of writing muscles.

LIZ: I want to cut. Which is a good sign – that means everyone else is doing their job. I think being a playwright for so long, makes you realize that language is sometimes the only vehicle you need. I listen to podcasts quite a bit. The Memory Palace, is beautiful, a guy with just the right words, a few musical interludes and some SFX. Is that what you wanted Earbud to be?

EBT: I wanted Earbud to be as creatively free as the film business wasn’t. Where a story could be as far out and esoteric as you wanted it to be. And by the way, you nailed this one. The dialogue is killer. I think I told you that when we were recording it one of the actors finished a line and then just let loose with, “This is fucking great – this is great writing.” Talking to himself. In fact it merits a couple of listens just to see how tight you made everything. It’s very layered.

LIZ: I very much miss writing for and with actors. Writing in repertory is very satisfying.

EBT: You mention Memory Palace, what other podcasts do you listen to?

LIZ: I like “Scriptnotes” which is “Car Talk” for screenwriters. “Here’s The Thing” w/Alec Baldwin [ed. note: is it just me or is Alec Baldwin doing ‘Blue Steel’ on the homepage?] and “WTF” w/Marc Maron – the hosts are kind of overwhelming but they bring out the best in their guests. The MOTH Radio Hour. My grandfather listened to talk radio on his transistor radio all day and all night long – I sort of understand why he did it. I just can’t get enough information! I remember laying in bed and listening to their radio and it was something like a detective show. I can remember the characters and the story – and I didn’t even SEE IT.

EBT: You know, as a kid my family would take these road trips and on occasion my Dad would find some radio show – I vividly remember catching a bit of THE NAKED JUNGLE which is about a plantation being attacked by killer ants. I too have those images still in my head. I’m glad the internet is kind of resurrecting this kind of thing. You should also check out SFFaudio – great stuff there.

LIZ: On my list! There’s another science one out there with Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

EBT: Startalk!

LIZ: Startalk! We are letting our Geek Flags fly. You told me you car pool with RadioLab?

EBT: Yes, in the human world I have to carpool a couple of brothers who would just get into these awful fistfights. One day I started playing RadioLab and they were mesmerized. Played it every day – no more fights. It was awesome.

LIZ: You must link RadioLab in this Interview. They have to know they are saving the world. One carpool at a time.

EBT: Will do! So, you’ve written a novel yes?

LIZ: I’d call it a novella. It’s been turned into a screenplay, that’s making the rounds. It’s called Secret Lives of the Unemployed.

EBT: Delicious rounds. What else is on your plate? Anything you want to mention or spill the beans on? We love beans here.

LIZ: The beans are, is that after listening to Carl, I decided to write a short feature based on this radio play. So, thank you! I also have a short feature Steve. Which is based on my play. I guess I will have to pick another man’s name to finish out this Guy Named Trilogy I seem to be writing.

EBT: RE: the third name, might I recommend “Balthazar?” Is Steve online?

LIZ: Steve is published in Smith & Kraus’ The Best 10 Minute Plays (Contemporary Playwrights Series). I think 2010 ed? The short screenplay, Steve as well as the feature Secret Lives of the Unemployed are in contention for a few things. We’ll see where it goes. I’m working with Lucy Stille at Paradigm, if anyone wants to take her or me out to lunch hahahahah.

EBT: Lunch with Liz, dammit!

LIZ: As a coincidence, Rumor has it that Voyager HAS in fact left the solar system.

EBT: Which you can read about right here. So, you know how James Lipton winds up his Inside the Actors Studio interviews with those questions? We don’t do that here because we’re not so skilled in the art of the interview.

LIZ: I forget the last question he asks.

EBT: Uh, like what’s your favorite sound, what’s your least favorite sound, do you think my beard makes me charming – yes, and the Pearly Gates one too…Shit – now I gotta know what DO you want God to say?

LIZ: Callous over guitar strings. The word “Like.” All beards are handsome. Mutton chops are killer. And I hope God says; “Look who’s here!” In that order.

EBT: NICE!

LIZ: And then we have lunch.

EBT: Hopefully lunch with beans. Liz, thank you so much for writing Carl. We love it – everyone else will too.

LIZ: Thanks Casey. On one last note. I remember when I got the Disney Fellowship. nd it took forever for the Execs to make up their minds. I had 2 weeks to pack up in NY and get to LA. You were an Exec and a major part of that program. And one of the first things you said to me which made me sad then, but happy now, was: “I fought for you.”

Thanks, Casey.

EBT: No. THANK YOU! (I’ll still fight for you, just point me in the right direction)

Episode 7 – Always In Season

I have read thousands of feature film scripts. Really. My mind boggles. Some were painful, some were just okay, many were pretty good, and a few were great. But there are only a handful – maybe ten/twenty out of a thousand – that made such an impression that they stuck with me to this day. Scripts that were terrific reads and stood out as complete works of art on their own. Some guy named M. Night Shyamalan wrote something called The Sixth Sense that scared me, fooled me and moved me. Andrew Niccol wrote a couple of profound pieces called Gataca and The Truman Show – both very moving reads as well. (Note: I’m talking about the scripts, not the final products that appeared on the screen (some fared better than others)). And then there was one called Every Good Boy Does Fine – a thriller written by Jonathan Dees. It hasn’t been made yet. It’s been in what’s known as Development Hell, but I won’t be surprised when it appears on the screen that is silver.

To this day whenever anyone asks me what my favorite scripts are – that’s the one that usually springs to mind. A terrific piece of writing that imprinted on my grey matter.

So you can imagine how great it was when he agreed to write something for Earbud Theater. (Can you imagine? Are you picturing dancing and frolicking? Ah, then I guess you can.) The result is the very cool Always in Season. Mr. Dees has written something to be very proud of and we’re thrilled to bring it to you!

We hope you enjoy Episode 7 of Earbud Theater: Always in Season!

Written by
Jonathan Dees

Performed by
Peter – Jeff Cannata
Debbie – Sabrina Stoll
Old Timer – Matthew Henerson

Music by
Freescha

Produced by Aaron Drown & Casey Wolfe
Directed by Casey Wolfe

The Granddaddy of all radio dramas…

We just realized Orson Welles was punk-rock-Elvis. Y’know, young, skinny, arrogant badass gains public awareness by creating chaos, outrage and timeless art – and then dying all fat and drunk. (eh, but to be fair, dying is a lose lose situation as far as grace and dignity go unless you fall on a grenade to save your platoon while riding a great white shark).

Welles himself said, “I started at the top and worked my way down.” Which is kinda true, though being a voice in the 1986 Transformers animated movie isn’t the absolute rock bottom of cinema – that would come years later with Michael Bay’s live version of Transformers. But we’re not here to talk about the bottom and we’re certainly not here to remind you about THIS horrible gift incident.

We’re here to remind you about this:

You see, Johnny Rotten had a group called The Mercury Theater and as one did in 1938, he and his band performed radio dramas… adapted performances of classic pieces of literature… cover songs if you will. And while they did okay with their covers of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan, but it wasn’t until the eve of Halloween that they did a performance so powerful that there was anarchy in the USA.

War of the Worlds was not only an innovative and ingenious adaptation, it was also a shrewdly calculated social experiment. It’s worth listening to if you’ve never heard it, but we also recommend this podcast that RADIOLAB put out a few years back. They not only dissect Welles adaptation, but a couple others that you may not have heard about. Check it out or live your life in ignorance. Your choice.

AND COME BACK MONDAY FOR A BRAND NEW PODPLAY! WHEEEEE!!!

Hey, it’s 2013, you got any plans?

Yeah? Big plans? Gonna conquer the world? Make those dreams come true all while dancing in the streets? Cool. We support that. We encourage you. And if we can spare them, we may even send minions to help out. But during your year of world-domination don’t forget about us. Don’t don’t don’t you… forget about us. We give you permission to take twenty or so minutes out of your day once a month to chillax with a bit of Earbud Theater. “Earwax chillax” we call it around here.

We don’t call it that, really, in fact that doesn’t even make sense. Sorry.

Before we launch into 2013 – big, big thanks to all the participants in 2012’s episodes. The world is a better place thanks to talent such as y’all and you’re welcome back anytime.

Now, you’re wondering what’s in store for 2013 and I have to start with: ‘strap-on dildo.’ Yes, one of our episodes features a strap-on. Just wanted to give you a heads up so maybe you can listen to that one yourself and not share it with the kids unless you have really progressive kids and/or you’re very good at explaining things and/or dodging questions. But it’s not all strap-ons (which, I should add, is merely an element, not the central conceit), we also have creepy murderers, superhumans, The Golden Record (know what that is?) and the oh so long and awaited Always in Season by author Jonathan Dees.

In fact, Always in Season will be our January release so look for it in the coming week. Hm? Wait, you don’t believe me? Well, I guess I can understand that, it’s been on deck for a long time, but for real, we have it. And it stars Sabrina Stoll, who played Mrs. Jessup in Beneath the Basement, Jeff Cannata, making his first appearance on Earbud, and Matthew Henerson, who is still touring the nation with in the stageplay version of Flashdance: The Musical.

You still don’t believe me? Well here’s photographic proof!

Jeff and Sabrina not acting.

Jeff and Sabrina acting like they’re pretending to act while also acting like they’re not annoyed there’s a camera in the room.

That’s talent.

So there you have it, world conquerers! We’re back! 2013 awaits! CHARGE!

xoxoxo