Autobiologic


My Wife In Hell


The next to the last episode of the year, the penultimate episode of the 1st season of this new format of the The Voice of Free Planet X, is deeply, unrepentantly silly. The title says as much. My Wife In Hell. It’s almost a pun, for crying out loud. A main character, Gorgah, who you can see in the above illustration by Jennifer Rodgers, is essential a Muppet, speaking as he does in high-pitched, Elmo-esque manner. There’s a loud-mouthed demon who’s exasperation is only matched by his inability to do math. And the Devil throws a Christmas party.

It’s also one of the most personal things I’ve written, filled with my own fears and anxiety. It’s about taking care of a adorable dog…baby…demon, sure. But it’s also about being simultaneously worried about your life changing and not changing, staying in the same place while everything else alters around you.

The two opening scenes, where the Cosmic Hosts wake J.R. and I up, and our first tour of Hell, where I meet Gorgah, is an almost verbatim adaption of a dream I had years ago. I told J.R. about it, and we’ve elaborated on it since, improvising banter between our fictional selves and her demonic co-workers. It became a running play between the two of us, a sort of inside-vaudeville. So much so, the only thing that was written down for the whole is the Christmas party. Those 7 minutes were scripted. The other 63? Oft-rehearsed improv between J.R. and I.

J.R. is, as ever, the best partner anyone could ask for.


Speaking of the extended length of this episode, that was made possible by the Patreon backers. The first milestone was an extra-long episode every year, and this here is the first.

I told myself that I’d consider the Patreon a success if I hit that first milestone by the end of the year. We’ve raised twice that. I am constantly in awe of the generosity of the people who listen to the show.

You folks, in other words. Thank you.


This episode is full of familiar voices–and not just because I do the voices for Gorgah and Eddie. Russell Collins, the man behind the VoFPX theme and the voice of corporate wizardry in Industrial Dark & Magic, lent his delightfully silver-plated tongue to Lucifer, Who Is The Morningstar. I’m making a habit of going to Russell whenever I need someone to be charmingly evil. I supposed there’s worse things to be typecast as…

You may recognize Len Webb’s impressive pipes as the voice of the Cosmic Hosts of Forever. I talked about how great Len is in the last newsletter, but it bears repeating: the man is incandescent with talent. I had no back-up voice in mind for the Cosmic Hosts of Forever; if Len hadn’t been game, I don’t know who I would have chosen instead. Luckily for all of us, he had no problem lending his inherent gravitas to a role that was mainly shouting. Class act, that Len.

Len and the rest of the Black Tribbles held their “Holiday Tribbilee” and, while I cannot speak for everyone, I had a grand time. I was stressing out a bit about what to wear–with good reason, it turned out, as there was some impressive costuming at the party. I ended just making a special necktie for the event. Something simple and understated:


Okay, maybe not understated. But I did look very, very snazzy in it.


I have just made the Annual Southern Migration, and am currently snuggled in with my family NC for X-Mas. I hope, that no matter what holiday you celebrate or have already celebrated (Hanukkah shout-out!) you were/are/will be surrounded by the ones you love, and who love you back. If have one wish this season, it’s that.

Second wish is for one of those Doctor Who Lego TARDIS sets.

Third wish? Third wish…I dunno.

I’ll think of something.


Oddfellows Local


Superheroes. You can’t escape ’em. I’m a fan of the genre, and even I have trouble keeping up with the TV shows, movies, not to mention the comics from which these caped crusaders spring from. I’ve actually stopped reading superhero comics on the regular. Every now and then I’ll grab a trade paperback of something unusual like Wilson & Alphona’s MS. MARVEL or Fraction & Aja’s HAWKEYE, but I’m far from the waiting-for-Wednesday fanboy I used to be. When I look at the superhero content currently being published, it’s quite clear that a great deal of it is not for me. I have long-standing love-affair with the character of Batman, but I haven’t purchased a current Batman comic in years. The superheroes being published are not my kind of heroes.

What are my kind of heroes? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Despite my affection for Batman, the superhero I’ve always identified with was Cliff Steele, the Robotman, particularly his portrayal in Grant Morrison & Richard Case’s run on DOOM PATROL. Cliff Steele was a human brain placed inside an android, a man uncomfortable with the size and power of body that doesn’t feel like his own. I’m a large man, and I was a large kid growing up, so I felt an instant kinship to this character. Reading those comics again as an adult, it’s clear that Cliff Steele is written as depressed person; I suppose it would be no surprise I would feel a kinship to this character long before I realized how much I suffer from depression as well.

Characters like Cliff Steele and the rest of the DOOM PATROL–which included a woman whose multiple personalities each have a different superpower, and person wrapped in bandages who was literal merging of a man and woman–are my kind of superheroes. Weirdos with personal baggage who nonetheless set about doing the right thing. Because that’s what heroes do.

The superheroes in Oddfellows Local are not as bizarre as those in DOOM PATROL, but I imagine they’d have a lot to talk about if they ever met.


This episode was an absolute dream to work on. I wrote Kicks the Kung Fu Clown with Dave Robison’s voice in mind. If you’ve ever listened to Dave The Roundtable Podcast, you know how his introductions flow pour out like thick hot chocolate. The man’s vocal chords are a national treasure. And if you haven’t listened to The Roundtable Podcast, you should. They had me on once upon a time, if you’re looking for a place to start.

When Dave asked for character influences, I sent him links to videos of the two men that inspired Kicks. The first was Tom Waits, expounding on, well, everything. The second was Puddles Pity Party, the Sad Clown with the Golden Voice, singing Lorde’s “Royals” with Postmodern Jukebox. Dave got the Tom Waits element, but when it came to Puddles, he was utterly baffled.

“What am I supposed to do with THAT?!” he asked, incredulous.

“Just carry it with you as you go, Dave,” I said. And he did, too.

Kennedy Allen, who you may remember killing it as Lupe the Werewolf in “Wolf Like Me” came back for this episode to bring her idiosyncratic presence to the character of Rumblr. Kennedy is a voice actor I can’t work with enough, frankly. She always brings something I never expect to the characters she plays, and it’s always wonderful.

Kennedy’s fellow Black Tribble–and my occasional panel partner–Len Webb came on to bring our Batman stand-in Darchangel. This won’t be the last time you’ll hear from Len–he’ll be providing the same gravitas he did here next episode. This won’t be the last time you’ll hear Darchangel, either. We had so much fun recording that character, it’d be a shame not to bring him back.

I’ve also been on The Black Tribbles‘ show, talking about STAR WARS. So if you aren’t listening to The Black Tribbles, go ahead and start there. Rasheeda Phillips, who in addition to creating The Afrofuturist Affair, played a stranded time traveler on “Paused,” says some great stuff in that episode.


I may be too hard on Batman. After listening to Eric Molinsky’s fascinating interview with reigning Bat-scribe Scott Snyder for Imaginary Worlds, I’m thinking may have to give those books another look.

As of this writing, I haven’t been on an episode of Imaginary Worlds. I know! I can’t believe it either.



I was fortunate enough to have my mother visit for Thanksgiving AND to have made my personal best turkey and gravy (you always want to roll out your personal best when your mom is tasting). The soft pretzel stuffing was a hit, as it has been for years now and should forever be.

As a southern gentleman, 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

10 soft pretzels (I go ahead and get a dozen, for mid-prep snacking)
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
Salt
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.


I have so much to be thankful for this year, not the least of which is you lot, and everyone else who has enjoyed The Voice of Free Planet X but not subscribed to this (crazy, I know!). The response to the show has been phenomenal. December last year was a dark time for me; I wasn’t sure where I was going, only that I was in an increasingly tenuous holding pattern. VoFPX was an attempt to find direction again, and the way you folks have embraced it proves to me I’m on the right track. Thank you for that. I don’t know how I could possibly repay you.


Starting Over

I was a job interview yesterday, and the interviewer pulled up my website to see some links to some of the journalism I’ve done recently. Rather than the usual, cleanly-designed hub of all things Jared Axelrod I had come to expect, what we found instead was series of ads hawking generic erectile dysfunction drugs.

Not the best foot forward, no.

I’ve had this problem before on my website, ever since I downloaded a free template that had a very sneaky bit of code embedded. I’ve deleted files and tracked down suspicious elements, but it was clear the only way to to truly make this thing go away was to burn down everything and start from scratch. So, here we are.

This happened, I should add, just one week after my hard-drive gave up the ghost without a proper back-up. Starting over has been a theme, recently

So with that in mind, welcome to the new, improved, jaredaxelrod.com. Update your RSS feeds. I’ll be re-running a few “greatest hits” blog posts from years past, and then…who knows?

I’ve always wanted to do more with this site. Starting over is a perfect excuse to do that.