The Angel Is In The Details

When I was 11, my parents took me to get my eyes checked. There was nothing noticeably wrong with my vision, but I was at the age my father needed glasses, my mother needed glasses, and my older sister needed glasses. Later, it would be the age my younger brother needed glasses. Biology does not always lead to destiny, but it never hurts to check.

I was shown the standard jumble of letters on the chart on the far wall, and I asked to read as much as I could. In an act that sums up who I am more than I’d like to admit, I read past the point where the eye doctor told me stop, and then apologized for not being able to read the last line.

The verdict was, rather than need glasses, I possessed “better than Perfect Vision,” which is a phrase I’ve always liked. Subsequent checks at the DMV have proven that my better than perfect vision is hanging in there, despite my predilection for reading in very low light, practiced over several decades.

All of this is to say, I often see things others don’t. The proverbial eye for detail.

I’ve been taking a lot of pictures recently. My daily “take a picture of my outfit” photo habit has increased to include multiple pictures of my darling daughter, and of my face. The documentation of Wednesday is obvious: she’s adorable, and has already changed considerably in her first two weeks of life. I’ve noticed. Better than perfect vision, remember. And she’s a better than perfect baby. The angel is in the details.

The need for pictures of my face, however, comes from an entirely different place. My better than perfect eyes see too much. See all the flaws that makeup cannot hide, the tells and giveaways. Despite my efforts to present myself as feminine, I can see the ways I’m falling short. I’ve been doing pretty well for not doing it for very long, but I can see the lengths I still have to go.

Still apologizing for not going far enough, as ever. You’d think I’ve grown out of it by now.

So I need the imperfect lens of the camera, the approximations and half-measures that make up photography. I need to have pictures of myself because I can see too much in the mirror. In the photos, gloriously blurry with digital imperfections, I can see me without worrying about details. It’s remarkably comforting.

It was not uncommon for me crop my face out of my “Today’s Style” photos. Now, I take proper selfies with the best of ’em.

The new Patreon went into full effect last Friday, with the first of the weekly rewards for $2, $5, and $10 backers. There’s a new flash piece, The Ballad of the Eyeball Kid, audio of me reading that flash piece, and the first chapter of my novel-in-progress, The Wish of All Things. If any of those things interest you, you may want to consider becoming a backer.

What’s in store this week? A rumination on supervilliany entitled Voice Victorious–which I am very much looking forward to reading aloud, let me tell you–and a sneak peak at a comic project I’ve been working on. The Patreon’s right here, iffin you want to see ’em.

Don’t wanna be left out, do you?

One more baby picture? How’s about when Wednesday finished her first bath?

Such an angel, am I right?

Good luck with the dragon.

Changing Everything, Because Everything Needs Changing

So. Things have changed.
The biggest change has been this little bundle of joy, my daughter Wednesday. She is, as near as I can tell, the best baby, full of joy and screams and little songs she sings to herself. Or, possibly, to us. Which is very sweet if true.

Which makes me a parent, a mother, simply by virtue of her existing. A big change, 3 now, where there was once 2. But a welcome one.

I love her.

Continuing the theme of everything needing changing, I’ve been updating, putting in proper pronouns and a new photo. It’s weird thing to do, if I’m honest. It’s either a small thing that feels much more momentous or momentous thing that feels much more small. A change of a few letters. A new photo. Shouldn’t mean as much as it does, but it does.

As @endrift said on Twitter, “A (cis) friend once said “trans is contagious”. I thought about it and realized what’s contagious is the idea that it’s OK to be trans.”

So, here’s me saying it’s okay to be trans, in a conscious effort to live more truthfully. It would be easy to leave the old site up and just say “I’ll change it later,” never meaning to. But if the site is meant to show who I am, then it needed to change. My virtual self needed to keep in step with my meatspace one.

Also, can I just say? I look great in that photo.

Changes have happened over at the Patreon as well. I’ve moved the charges to monthly, rather than “per Voice of Free Planet X episode.” In an effort to give folks more stuff while the podcast is currently in production. There’s now weekly flash fiction, and audio versions of said flash, and selections from whatever I’m working on, depending on your reward level.

So, if you’re looking for fresh Axelrod fiction, that’s the place to find it.

Some new pieces up on Quirk Books. There’s Noteworthy Women In Sci-Fi History, and What If Robert Frost Wrote About Food? One is obviously more silly than the other, as it is about things that rhyme with “ice cream.” But, if you ever wanted to know about the origins of slash-fic, the less silly one may well be worth your time.

Also in the “silly” category: Apes of Wrath, a Steinbeckian take on Planet of the Apes, which I hope lives up the giggles created by the title.

And there’s a return to my favorite monsters with Speaking In Terms At Frankenstein’s Support Group For Misunderstood Monsters. This marks the first appearance of Myriad, the sentient swarm of locusts, Gelatinax, the blob, Lobstar, the unholy melding of lobster and man, and Lord Zynn, extra-dimensional warlord. Will these characters show up again? Who knows?

(Lobstar. Lobstar will show up again.)

A week or so ago was #PitMad, aka “Pitch Madness,” aka “cram a description of your novel into Twitter and see if anyone likes it.” I’ve been trying to find an agent for my novel The Wish Of All Things, so I gave it a shot. I was not prepared for the response:

(note that updated avatar; changing everything)

Needless to say, I was floored by this response. Not all of those likes and retweets were agents, but a hefty percentage were. And even so, to have such a marvelous outcry of support for a measly one-sentence pitch–I didn’t even talk about the dragon!–was wonderful. I’ve gotten some good critique on The Wish Of All Things recently, and with this latest revision its the best its ever been. It’s hard not to send this version out and think “Is this the year everything changes?”

‘Cause, y’know. Everything needs changing.

Good luck with the dragon.

I’ve Been Busy

The Voice of Free Planet X is currently on hiatus as JR and I prepare for the arrival of the third member of our party. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing things! For example, I’ve recently appeared on Chris Lester’s The Raven & The Writing Desk (episode already on the VFPX feed!), talking all about VFPX. We dig into how the stories come together, how I record, and what’s coming in Season 3.You’re going to want to listen.

A staple of my wardrobe recently has been this fantastic fox-eared hat. I’m currently involved in a DnD campaign run by none other than Christiana Ellis, playing a charming, con-artist rogue, Muugen the Magnificent, who got cursed to look like strange fox/monkey creature. One of my fellow adventurers is Starla Hutchton (Beyond The Wallers Chooch & Vivid Muse round out the party), and she gave me this hat for X-Mas. I’ve been wearing it on the regular ever since.

Now, if you read the above paragraph and thought “Jared playing DnD with Christiana, Starla, Chooch and Viv sounds great! I wish I could listen!” have I got news for you! You can! Christiana has been releasing our game as a podcast called “So Many Levels.” I think it’s a hoot, and I’ve got some great plans for Muugen’s journey going forward.

Additionally, I’ve been writing humor pieces for Quirk Books. I really should have shown you to these earlier, since more than a few of them are VFPX ideas that never quite developed into full episodes. Here’s the full list, up to today:

Frankenstein’s Support Group For Misunderstood Monsters
An Interview with Kilgore Trout
What if The X-Men Was A Gothic Novel
Narnia Real Estate Listings
Louisa May Alcott’s “The Fast & The Furious”
Jane Austen’s Birthday Haul
The Hundred-Acre Games
Jane Austen’s 21st Birthday Haul
A Christmas Caper
25 More Laws of Robotics
The Hobbit Inspired by Cormac McCarthy
Frankenstein’s Support Group For Misunderstood Monsters, Friday the 13th Edition
Quoth The Tweety Bird
Presenting “Mirrer,” The Wonderland Dating App
The Latest Headlines From OzFeed
“2 Great 2 Expectations” and Other Charles Dickens Sequels That Never Were
Time Machines, Ranked By Accuracy
Forgotten Fairy Tales
Ode to a Venusian Flurn
What If Les Miserables Was A DnD Game?
The Future of Celebrity Gossip
Dr. Seuss-Inspired Books About Modern Technology
St. Patrick Contemplates Driving Out The Snakes

I realize that’s a heaping helping of links to throw at you all at once. I’m going to attempt to make this blog a more regular thing, so that you’re alerted by where to experience my bits of weirdness in a more timely fashion.

Until then, good luck with the dragon.


I was just informed that Jeff Jeske, my college advisor, passed away. Jeff provided perhaps the only type of guidance I would have accepted at that age: “If that’s what you really want to do, here’s how you go about it.”

I almost didn’t graduate. I had failed a business class senior year, so I was two credits short. Not even a full class. That semester, with the help of a extraordinarily talented group of friends, I had put on a full-length play that I wrote. I’d like to claim that the play was why I failed the business course, but the fact of the matter was that I just couldn’t get into the material. Unlike the play.

I went to Jeff with the news of not being able to graduate, and while we talked about the possibilities of summer classes and the like, I brought out a longshot. Could I have the play, done through a club, count as a 2-credit independent study.

Jeff, to his credit, did not throw the idea out of hand. Instead, he looked a me, shrugged and said, as he always did, “If that’s what you really want to do, here’s how you go about it.”

He told me which forms I needed, how to fill them out, what they should say and who should sign them. And when I saw the dean not two hours later, a fist-full of papers in my hand, there was nothing he could do but sign off on it. My paperwork was ironclad. I graduated.

I usually tell this story as triumph of early-twenties optimism and outside-the-box thinking, and it is. But it couldn’t have had the happy ending it did without Jeff, who took my oddball idea and calmly laid out the way for it work.

I don’t think I’ve ever thanked him properly for all the guidance he’s given me. I don’t think I ever could.


What is this, a month later and I still haven’t talked about Episode 25? Well, it’s been quite a month.  I’ll get into that in a moment. But first, Starchild!

This is an unabashed love letter to my wife, JR Blackwell. Doctor Mercury is her character–and that’s her posing as Mercury, underneath the layers of Photoshop in the title card–and I’ve been wanting to write something with her for awhile. Doctor Mercury was already established as part of Chris Morse’s Super Villain Corner, and having recently jumped over there, it seemed the perfect excuse to have her follow me back. Like all things my wife does, Doctor Mercury is an immaculate creation, a perfectly twisted power fantasy the likes of which fiction rarely sees. I’m not sure how much of this episode was me “writing” and how much was just letting Doctor Mercury do her thing. JR has read me her Mercury stories in that thick, delicious voice, so I getting her words on the page was surprisingly easy.

This was remarkably fun story to write. The whole “found audio” conceit allowed me to pull some actual horror around JR and my vamping. And it was nice to try my hand at some Lovecraftian-style terror, while at the same time making in feminist and, well, not racist.

Props to Sonia Williams, making her third appearance on the show, and absolutely nailing the transition from focused scientist to deranged madwoman. And simmilar props to new-comer Josh Hitchens, who I daresay is the best screamer in podcasting. Seriously, I asked that guy to just give me a scream, thinking we’d have to do a couple of takes to get the energy right, but he shook out a perfect one right out of the gate. I’ve been wanting to work with Josh for awhile, I just had to find the right character. And it seems like I made the right choice.

Speaking of collaborations with my wife…

We’re looking at an April publication date. Should be life-changing.

Speaking of life-changing, if you follow my Instagram or Twitter feed, you may have noticed I’ve stopped dressing like this:

And started dressing like this:

I’ve been experimenting with my gender identity over the past few weeks, and I’ve come to a few conclusions:

  • Presenting a feminine identity, both on the street and online, makes me happy. As in, “seemingly cured my depression in one fell swoop” happy. I used to view to myself as someone who had lots of different problems, but it looks like I just had one problem that affected me in lots of different ways.
  • I’m not changing my name. You can continue to refer to me as “Jared.”
  • I haven’t come down on specific pronoun preference, yet. “He” is fine, I’m still testing the weight of “she,” and I’ve never had a problem with the singular “they.” So, really, all pronouns are fine.
  • I do intend to keep wearing ties.

Whether this a wholesale shift in my gender from male to female, or just some genderqueer wardrobe additions remains to be seen. I’m still exploring this, and there’s no real map to speak of. But the journey has been nothing but positive so far, so I’m content to continue on and see where I end up.

Soft Pretzel Stuffing

It’s that time of year, again. The time of year when everyone asks me about the recipe of my soft pretzel stuffing.

As I was born of southern climes, I have…opinions about the so-called “cuisine” offered by the Northern region of these United States. The concept of soft-pretzel stuffing, however, is a glory I cannot and will not deny. It was first introduced to me at a “Friendsgiving” party, and while the original creator was tight-fisted with the recipe (he has since relented, giving me a list of instructions far too long to replicated, even if they do finally find a use for gibblets), I have made my own.

The nature of the soft pretzel, being salty and buttery before you even begin, allows a recipe that is sheer elegance in its simplicity. You can dress up a soft pretzel if you like, I suppose. But why would you?

I recommend using the soft pretzels found at Miller’s Twist in Reading Terminal, but any soft pretzel will do.

Soft Pretzel Stuffing

1 dozen soft pretzels
2 quart chicken or vegetable broth
4 oz of butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 sprigs of fresh sage, chopped
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
A dash of Penzey’s Sandwich Sprinkle (an optional touch, but I always find it adds a little somethin’-somthin.’ Garlic powder will serve)

1)    Preheat the oven to 350°. I usually make this along side a roast turkey, using Alton Brown’s recipe, so the oven has already been at 350° for quite some time before I shove the stuffing in.

2)    Chop the soft pretzels into 1-inch pieces, place in a large bowl. Poor one quart of the broth into bowl, and allow the pretzel pieces to soak the broth up

3)    Melt the butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots celery and a pinch of salt, and sweat until the onions are translucent

4)    Add  sage and thyme to the vegetable mixture, stir until the vegetables are evenly coated.

5)    Add the pretzel pieces, including the broth at the bottom of the bowl. Add Sandwich Sprinkle. Stir well.

6)    Add more broth, so that the liquid comes halfway up the sides of the dutch oven (usually only 2 cups, but it depends on how dry or absorbent you pretzels are)

7)    Place the dutch oven in the oven, covered, for 30 minutes.

8)    Remove cover, and cook for another 20 minutes.

9)    Serve immediately in huge honking spoonfuls.


Not a fancy recipe, I will admit. But a crowd-pleaser just the same.

Even In Arcadia/A Good Guy With A Magic Sword

Been busy with my new gig outfitting the ghouls and monsters haunting Eastern State Penitentiary as part of Terror Behind The Walls’s costume team. Making sure the 200 or so actors all have the right pants took some doing, which lead to Even In Arcadia being later than I would have liked. But the show’s up properly, now, and A Good Guy With A Magic Sword came out on schedule, so all is right with the world.Sadly, podcasting does not yet pay the bills. You could help with that, if you’re so inclined.It’s fitting to talk about these two together. After the format-breaking shenanigans of The Wake Of The Lacuna, Parable Of The Leopard, Just Around Supervillian Corner, Court of the Crimson Queen and Rap Battle Beyond The Stars, it’s kind of nice to get back into the groove of fake interviews again.

Episode 25 (also Episode 200, if you’re counting the old way), breaks with the format yet again—if you’ve finished A Good Guy With A Magic Sword, you may have some guesses on how—because I’m never satisfied with boxes, even those I build myself.

Even In Arcadia started life back in the old version of VFPX, where it was just prose that I read. Part of the plan for redoing it for the new version was to add the scenes I never got a chance to do back then. But once all the parts of the old version were written up as dialogue, it was clear that the bulk of the episode was already written.

Those other scenes may see the light of day sometime, in another version. “Alien refugees hide out as Edwardian servants” does seem to be an idea I can’t get enough of, ever since it occurred to me watching PBS’s Manor House.

In addition to that fine bit of programming, Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia is also an influence, if the title wasn’t clear enough indication. I first saw that play as teenager, and it’s never left me. I don’t think about it often, but when I do, I remember with a crystal clarity I wish I had for, you know, actual things that have happened to me. I always pull out Rosencratz & Guilderstern Are Dead as a favorite Stoppard piece—certainly several characters in VFPX tip their hat to the Player King—but I may be lying to myself.

With the exception of the wondrous Jennifer Sommerfield, all of the actors were recorded over Skype—a necessary evil when you realize that all of your cast needs to have UK accents. The only one accent is natural; everyone else is faking it, and doing a cracking good job of it, too. Proper accents meant going to trained theater types, which means the performances are all top-notch, even if I had to direct them over the phone.

Nick did his over a cell phone in the midst of theater festival, and it is still fantastic. That’s why I work with professionals.

It’s kind of a low-key episode. The humor is gentler, the stakes are purposely misleading, and when the ending is so at odds with the rest of the story the violence is amplified ten-fold. Which, again, was on purpose.

(Pretty much all of VFPX is on purpose, by the by. I’ve had people ask me about references in titles and characters misspeaking idioms and the like, and yes, all of it is on purpose. Even the things the actors bring to the show that I didn’t plan for is kept in the edit for specific reasons.)

Still, the ending aside, a low-key episode. Which I like. Despite my love of pulp velocity, I’m a bit of a ponderous writer by nature. Sometimes it’s nice to just hang out in a place, before it’s gone for good…

Speaking of hanging out in a place, how much fun is Cyriania? I’d just finished Lev Grossman’s The Magicians when I was pulling this episode together, and watching him grind his axes against Narnia, Oz, Hogwarts and Dungeons & Dragons certainly affected this episode. While it’s interesting to peer into Grossman’s “what if magic wasn’t any fun” worldview, even he couldn’t help enjoying himself when that bear waddled into frame. Talking animals are great, even when they’re used to nakedly explore gun control.

Like every queer person, I was deeply affected by the Pulse nightclub massacre. So much so, this episode kicked another idea out of the Episode 24 slot I had been thinking about longer (don’t worry; Players Of Games will show up in Season 3). I needed to talk about it, and this episode became the vessel for that, the result of my irritations with the facile arguments about assault weapons that bobbed up and down in the wake of the tragedy.

One thing I noticed when bringing this episode together: it’s really easy to be racist in a fantasy context. Half this episode is improv, and without any prompting from me, each and everyone of the actors said something disparaging about ogres, or trolls, or elves, as group. That sort of casual fantastical racism mirrored nicely the casual real-life racism that accompanies any discussion about gun control, so it was put in the scripted portions, too.

There will probably be a return to Cyriania to dig into the weird racist attitudes that prop up fantasy worlds. There’s a lot to dig into, there. Plus, we never talk to a Tanuki! After watching The Eccentric Family, I’ve got a lot of Tanuki ideas…

Ellen Kushner returned for this episode, because I can’t have a story about swords and not include the author of Swordspoint. I’m considering putting an unedited version of the improve we did, because over half of it was edited out, and it was all so good!

Next episode is the Halloween special and the last episode of Season 2 as well as being the 25th and 200th episode. It’s also shaping up to be one of my favorite episodes of the show. I can’t wait to share it with you.

Good luck with the dragon.

The Wake Of The Lacuna

Well, this was certainly a normal episode.

Okay, that’s a joke, since all I seem to say is how strange these episodes are. But there is some truth to it. Length aside, this episode has so many Jared Quirks it could open a Jared Quirks Shop.

Let’s go down the list, shall we? There’s coping with loss, detectives as metaphor, the mutability of the human body, queerness, Anglophillia, the meaning of heroism, the power of community, the limits of control, and most tellingly, superheroes. There’s a character who manages to simultaneously be a reference the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Alex Raymond and Jorge Luis Borges, another who has no patience for me or my shenanigans, and a third who has several lines in an almost impenetrable slang favored by British gay men in 30s.

Also, jokes at the expense of eugenics and Nazis. Because, obviously.

Beyond the absolute joy of writing such a thing, I was able to work with an absolutely astound collection of talented actors: Len Webb of The Black Tribbles, Isa St. Clair, Phil Thomas and Andy Holman of West Phillians, and Sonia Williams all gave their A-Game to this bizarre script, which, quite frankly, asked a lot of them as performers. They had to be comfortable playing cartoons in the beginning only to have their characters slowly gain three dimensions by the show’s end. Not easy to do, and the fact that they are so successful is a tribute to their amazing talent.

Also? Because it was a live show, we had to rehearse with everyone together, which was an absolute dream for me. I can’t do every episode that way—for scheduling reasons and because some of my favorite actors are not in this city—but did I start to have fantasies of every episode of VFPX being a live show with those five performers?

Yes. yes I did.

There’s a lot to unpack in this script (Jared Quirk Shop, remember) so I might as well break it down. Skip this part if you haven’t listened to episode yet, you can pick back up when you see the photo of the cast:

The Wake Of The Lacuna – You have no idea how overjoyed I was when Erin, a friend and a fan of VFPX who came to live show, told me she got all the wordplay in this title.

A lacuna is a missing element, and the fact that The Lacuna as her “nom de magnifying glass” puts her in the same category of detectives as that faceless wonder, The Question. But a lacuna is also an underwater cave, and it can have a wake of its own that is dangerously difficult to get caught in. The End of Time Club are at the Lacuna’s wake, but are also caught in the current her movement created.

The End of Time Club – The End of Time Club gets its name from “The End of the Earth Club,” a group of amateur and professional explorers who included in their ranks Mark Twain and Robert Peary, and was presided over by Rudyard Kipling (another thing they had in common? An astounding amount of racism). Also an influence is Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s Justice League of pulp heroes from PLANETARY, which has analogues of Doc Savage, The Shadow, James Bond and an all-purpose “aviator,” just as the End of Time Club does.

But a far more direct origin is a Saturday morning cartoon “Defenders of the Earth,” which has Flash Gordon lead a group of other newspaper comics action heroes, The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician and Lothar. I loved this show as child—had the Phantom and the Mandrake action figures, as well as a Ming the Merciless for them to fight. I’ve watched it recently and, well, let’s be charitable and say it does not hold up well. Though there is considerably more gay subtext between Mandrake and Lothar than I thought.

Tom Brayve – Tom Brayve is Flash Gordon and John Carter of Mars, the man from earth who got taken to space and became a hero. Due to the influence of Defenders of the Earth at a young age, it was natural for a Flash Gordon analogue to lead the team, and to be the fountain of wisdom. Flash Gordon and John Carter succeed due to their unique perspective, their distance from the conflicts at hand. So, then, is Tom Brayve able to distance himself.

Tom Brayve traveled to the other side of the galaxy via an Aleph, which is stolen…I mean, is an homage to Borges’s story “The Aleph.” Borges’s Aleph was a point in which you could see every moment throughout space and time—in typical Borges fashion, it was in a shitty poet’s basement—while mine is one you can actually step through. Is a portal to anywhere going to show up again? You better believe it.

Doc Cosmos – A blatant Doc Savage rip, with a little of PLANETARY’s version, Axel Brass, for good measure. One thing about Doc Savage that stuck with me was that he always seemed incredibly lonely; raised from birth to be a crime-fighting adventurer, Savage was always trying to cobble a makeshift family around himself. So that became Cosmos’s defining trait.

Well, that and his hamminess. What’s the point of having pulp heroes if you can’t have them make bold pronouncements about being “The Ultimate Man” and thundering “By science!”

Rachnae – Rachnae comes from a whole host of dark vigilantes—she lists them, in fact—but the primary sources are The Spider, The Shadow, The Phantom and The Avenger. The Spider is where she get’s her name, the Avenger was a man whom people thought was a walking corpse due to his paralyzed face and deathly pallor, the Phantom is “the Ghost Who Walks,” and the Shadow knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

The best Shadow stories always gave him some gallows humor to match his omnipresent laugh, and so Rachnae gets some of the best jokes in the show.

Can you believe I’ve been doing audio dramas for over ten years and this is the first time I’ve done a Shadow riff? How did I miss that?

Operative 7 – Equal parts James Bond and Dashiel Hamnet’s Continental Op. Only, you know, queer.

Op. 7 speaks in Polari, a British gay slang used from the 30s through the 70s. Back when being gay could get you arrested, having a code to not only talk about your life with no one being the wiser, but also have a recognition point for anyone nearby who was in the know.

The idea of making a James Bond pastiche a closeted gay man was something that was too good to let go of. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Honestly, it  maybe the only way to reconcile Bond’s rampant misogyny: he either treats women that way because he hates them or treats women that way because he’s overcompensating to hide his true desires. Which would you prefer?

Andy wanted to do the whole show in a Sean Connery impression, but I didn’t want the reference to be that direct. He did get to slip it in when he quotes MACBETH, though, so we all win.

“Night’s black agents,” by the by, is a reference to literal predators. One of the fascinating things about the pulps is that while the characters are heroic, they are also often horrible people.

Abigail Airheart – The aviator is a classic pulp trope, as is the excitable kid, and Abigail gets to be both. She’s essentially the Rocketeer. As much as I fancy myself a detached spaceman like Tom Brayve, Abigail is probably the character who is the closest to who I am. I take in a lot at once, and sometimes miss the details until it’s too late.

It’s Abigail who reveals the most about the Lacuna, due to their relationship. Abigail isn’t closeted like Op. 7, she’s a free spirit. I’ve said in the past that whenever I need characters to reference a relationship, I make it queer one, because if I don’t explicitly state the characters are queer they will be assumed to be straight. Eventually, we’re going to reach the point where everyone just assumes everyone in my show is queer.

What a great day that will be.

Anyway, Abigail knows the Lacuna’s secret identity, Ximena Kondo, and that she came from a line of Chilean poets and Japanese shrine maidens. Ximena was just a great name to use, but Kondo is a direct reference to Marie Kondo, former shrine maiden turned tidying-up guru. Kondo believes if something does not give you joy when you hold it, you should get rid of it. A lesson most of the End of Timers should take to heart.

Let’s see….anything else? A lot of the themes—and the title!—of this episode where taken wholesale from Barbra Kingslover’s The Lacuna. Its a fantastic book and you should read it.

It’s nothing like this episode.

I asked the cast to show up in full costume for the performance, and as you can see, they did not disappoint. I made some Pinterest boards to guide them. You can look at them here:

Tom Brayve
Abigail Airheart
Doc Cosmos
Operative 7

And here’s a gallery of all the amazing photos my wife J.R. Blackwell took of the cast and the show.

If you’re a Patreon backer, you can watch a video of the performance. Which, as you can see from these clips, was pretty incredible.

The other day, a cashier wished me “Good luck with the dragon” as I walked away.

I’m going to start using that as a farewell.  I know I’ve got the “I’ll think of something” sign-off, here. But I think this is better. After all, we could all use a little luck with the dragon, right? Whatever your dragon may be.

Good luck with the dragon.

Parable Of The Leopard

Almost a year ago, when I asked Strix to be a part of the Voice of Free Planet X, I warned her of two things: 1) her character was integral to the metaplot, so she would be on a lot of episodes, and 2) one of those episodes would be essentially a monologue. Neither of those bothered her, and when I finally delivered this script to her, she dug into it with both hands. Not everyone can handle a 2nd-person future-tense speech delivered to themselves in the past, but Strix took it all in stride. She’s an astounding performer, and this is one of the greatest performances I’ve had the pleasure to record.

It’s an odd show–I know I say that about every episode; it’s always true–but it’s doesn’t feel odd. Strix grounds the more fantastic parts of the script in real tangible, emotion. Which could not have been easy when you have a story about a someone violently interacting with their doubles from alternate earths.

When I listen to this episode, I think about that conversation we had back then. And I am so grateful that she agreed then, so that you can hear this now.

Speaking of Strix, have you seen her roleplaying game show “Weekly Affirmations?” It’s part of the HyperRPG Twitch channel and if you like freeform/indie RPGs, its well worth your time. They’re all on YouTube if you want catch up. The most recent episode has Ajit George, who played the pacifist Jedi Knight in the newsletter exclusive episode. They’re great together.

You should watch the show. It’s pretty decent.

This weekend is the beginning of the Philadelphia Podcast Festival, and this afternoon is the VFPX component of said festival, “The Wake Of The Lacuna.” I’m so excited for this, folks! We had a rehearsal last night, and it was absolutely amazing. It’s more of an actual play than an audio play–the actors are doing all sort of reaction stuff that will delight the live audience but will be lost on the audio. If you’re in the area, there’s no reason you shouldn’t come. It’s free, it’s at 4pm today at the Art Church of West Philadelphia.

If you’re not in the area, there might be a video for Patreon backers. So if you’re not a Patreon backer, maybe you should consider it? There’s some nice bonus stuff there.

Backer or not, you will get to hear “The Wake Of The Lacuna” on the podcast feed in September. I’m really proud of this show, it’s great script, the cast is superb, and I honestly don’t know if I’m ever going to top it.

‘Course, that’s how I felt about “Rap Battle Beyond The Stars,” too.

I’ll think of something.