Autobiologic


Because of What You Are

The prettiest star.

I’m working on a YA book right now, and YA books carry with them YA baggage. Writing a project about teenagers means that I am, in no small part, writing about myself as a teenager. It is…not easy. To write this story, I have to forgive my teenage self for everything they did and did not do. Which I was not expecting.

I didn’t realize how much of a grudge I held against my younger self for not having the courage at 16 I accumulated at 36. I know the battle that was before me every single day, and every single day I backed down from it. But I was a good kid. I was a good kid who wanted so much to be liked for who I was, because I didn’t like who I was. I wish I was braver, but who doesn’t, when looking back? Especially at our teen years.

All of this resentment is funny, because, all things considered, I was pretty brave. I went to pride marches and queer film festivals. I came out to a small select group of friends. And this was in ‘90s, which felt incredibly progressive at the time, but was also a period when FRIENDS, the most popular show on television, well, you can watch.

So, give Teen Jared so slack, Adult Jared. He’d be really proud of the woman you are now, the least you can do is not look down the boy you were then.

…trans nomenclature is so weird.


New project means new playlist. I’ve been surprised how many “performance” artists I’ve unconsciously selected: David Bowie, tUnE-yArDs, Kembra Pfahler’s indelible The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black (I should add some  FKA Twigs to the mix). Something about the intensity of music that is not just meant to be played but performed fits with over-active teenage emotions. Where the practiced artifice is a catalyst, not a barrier, to what’s being expressed. The makeup artfully smudged and costumes purposefully torn. Performance as means to authenticity. What could be more teenagery?

‘Course, I was an art-kid–voted “most artistic” even, out-arting the rest of my senior class–so I would think that. Fortunately, I’m writing about arty kids, so while my experience may not be universal, it will be relevant. Plus, one of them is trans. They’re a little braver then I was. But they have much poorer impulse control, which is where all the fun in writing them is.


Baby, We’ll Be Fine

All we gotta do is be brave, and be kind.
The original idea for this particular posting was going to be some housecleaning, as we sweep the old year into the trashcan and lay out nice clean sheets for the new one (speaking of, have you seen this comic by Kanesha Bryant? Devastating and hopeful, in equal measure). And I’m still going to do that–spoilers!–further on down, but I was Googling my own name just to check if I made anything this year that I forgot about, and I came across this:

Parallel Lives podcast reviews A Great Machine

A Great Machine is a weird little thing I created for the LARP competition Golden Cobra. There had been a hoodoo in the American Freeform LARP community some months before about zero-player games, what that would look like, or if that would even be a game at all. I wanted to explore that space, so I came up with A Great Machine, which you don’t so much play as be a part of. Play is defined by having a say in the outcome. If that’s removed, if you are merely part of a process, you are, by definition not playing. A game with no players. I’d describe it here, but Wednesday Sophia does such an elegant job with the review, I’m just going to recommend you listen to her.

I throw a lot of things out into the wilds of the internet, and while I fancy that all of it will find an audience eventually, I did not actually expect that this game that literally no people could play would ever find anyone who would understand what I was doing. That Wednesday Sophia not only found it but enjoyed it, well, that’s as good an omen for the coming year as I can hope for

Right. So. An accounting of the year that was. Obviously, this collaboration with J.R. Blackwell was the most momentous of the year:
…but I did some other things, too.

This year has been light for me as far as podcast production, with just the live episode of VFPX, Episode 26 – Bringing The Universe To You, which was part of the Philadelphia Podcast Festival. But, if you’re just going to have one, you could do a lot worse. I got some really cool press from being a part of the PhillyPodFest, being one of these Five Philly-Based Podcasts You Should Check Out. I’ll take “Assessment: Awesome” any day of the week.

I also did a great interview on Chris Lester’s The Raven & the Writing Desk, which is a must-listen for anyone who enjoys VFPX. And I did a guest-spot on Jeff Stormer’s Party of One’s 100th episode, which is a must-listen for anyone who enjoys Superman. Both are fun for entirely disparate reasons.

2017 saw me writing quite a bit of things for Quirk Books. What things, you ask? These things:

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
Noteworthy Women In Sci-Fi History
What If Robert Frost Wrote About Food?

Speaking In Terms At Frankenstein’s Support Group For Misunderstood Monsters
Apes of Wrath
The Cosplay Habits of Fictional Characters
Other Gallifreyans
The Most Regrettable Mythological Figures
Gothic Tales of the Returns Desk
Letters of Condolences from the Empire’s HR Desk
Classic Literature As Limericks

Aliens Left Out of Guardians of the Galaxy
What Literary Video Game Should You Play?
Comics Edgar Wright Should Adapt
Literary Family Feud

Interview with an Asteroid
The Princess Bride: The 5 Other Kisses
Fear and Loathing on My Lunch Break

More Hemingway-esque Six-Word Stories
What if JAWS was a Rom-Com?
Close Encounters of Multiple Kinds

Books That Shouldn’t Be Video Games
So, You’re Inhuman Now

How to Modify Your Bike to Accommodate an Alien
What If Your Favorite Movie Characters Crossed Paths?
Something Wicked, Something Holy: Halloween Deities
Understanding Misunderstood Monsters

How To Survive NaNoWriMo
Murder in the ’67 Hatchback and Other Poriot Knock-Offs
S.H.I.E.L.D., S.W.O.R.D. and H.A.T.E.: Marvel’s Acronymistic Organizations

“Because I could not stop to shop” and other Christmas shopping poems
Hot Chocolate Recipes Based on Fictional Characters
What If Hannibal Lecter Judged A Baking Show?
What If Other Authors Had Written A Christmas Carol?
Pop Culture Based Conversation Starters For The Holidays

And that’s not even counting the Frankenstein’s Support Group For Misunderstood Monsters comics, all of which I am very proud of:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Chapter 7


…And that should tie up the old year. I’ve got plans for the new one. Big plans. Part of those plans is using the ol’ website more, so I spruced it up a bit. New coat of paint, added some sconces, finally fixed that dangling “Puppet” section. 2018 is going to be the year of more substantial projects for me, and I’m gonna need a sturdy support for more than a few of them. Social media can barely hold a damn thing.

The year is wide open in front of us. Baby, we’ll be fine.


A Little Rough

2017, am I right? Been a little rough, hasn’t it?

I’m trying to be less precious with things. Trying to push ideas out, baby bird-style, not because I hope they might fly but because I don’t know if they will. These may not be the best words in the best order but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth reading and that, my friends and enemies, is an idea I can get behind.

I’ve recently discovered the YouTube series Movies With Mikey, which is delightful and challenging and insightful—watch The Batman Question, it’s important—and one of the things that keeps you watching is Mikey Neumann’s voice, by which I mean his writing, by which I mean a slow torrent of verbiage that feels like a joke-filled rambling stream-of-consciousness narrative but is actually meticulously constructed essay that will probably get you all misty-eyed by the end if you’re not careful.

Seriously. I was not expecting all the feels at the end of the LOGAN episode.

But–and here’s why I’m bringing up this particular YouTube show at this particular time–MWM is imperfect. Sometimes he forgets to include important parts of his arguments, sometimes he misspells title cards, and while some of that plays into his scratched-film, out of focus aesthetic, some of it may also be that he is a human being, much like the rest of us, and not everything one does is going to be perfect and polished. Some things will be, the things we put the time and effort and have the help of others to create, but some things just…won’t. Even if we put the time and effort and have the help of others. As distracting as it is that he used the wrong “shown” in his GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL video it doesn’t detract from how good that video is. Which is a lesson we could all learn from.

(If it was indeed the wrong “shown.” We have to assume Artist’s Intent, after all. Maybe he put a “shone” in there for a reason. You be the judge, the author is dead, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera)

I think there’s a worry, especially in the current climate of the internet that we’re going to be called out for something we did wrong. This is not an imagined fear. As I write this, I am doing JUST THAT to someone who has the INDECENCY to have DEMONSTRABLY WRONG opinion on Twitter OF ALL PLACES.

I am part of the problem. I realize that.

But I’m trying to be better, and also I’m trying to not worry about something I say being attacked by someone like me, that is to say, someone smart enough to know when someone is wrong but not smart enough not to care. Which is definitely easier said than done.

To steer things back to MWM for a moment, MWM makes me think about voice, and how I’ve lost the voice I’ve been comfortable with in the past year. I used to write this newsletter–and anything else that required the affect of coming from “me”–in this sort of friendly know-it-all tone, which I see now was a sort of armor (the know-it-all part; the friendliness was genuine), designed to to keep folks at a distance. It was intrinsically tied to the armor I presented to the world in my everyday life, because I was deathly afraid someone might get too close and see I was, in fact, trans.

Clearly, no need to worry about that now.

Which brings me, in a very roundabout way, to the point I wanted to make originally which is, I’ve been through a lot of changes this year. 2017 has been difficult for everyone in more ways than one, but for me at least, it  should be mentioned that in 2016 I was a childless dude who had a job and was known for wearing neckties and having a podcast and now I’m the stay-at-home mother of the most wonderful baby in the world who doesn’t really do any of those things any more. I mean, yes, I’ve done long periods of not-podcasting and unemployment before and there was time before I wore ties where I did not. But Things Have Changed. Things have been a little rough. As corny as its going to sound, 2017 has been a very transitional year, a necessary time of uncertainty as I move from one identity that had gotten too uncomfortable to wear into one that is not yet completed.

And in that way, it’s been a pretty good year.

Plus, this really awesome person came into my life right around the end of March, so…

All of this has, as one might expect, led me to contemplating the Three Kings.

The Three Kings, are present in every Nativity but occupy barely half a dozen sentences in the Bible. There’s something marvelous in their story, a trio of wealthy astronomers from somewhere east of Bethlehem, traveling for months–if not years–because the stars told them a religious leader was about to be born and they WERE NOT GOING TO MISS IT.

‪FOMO we can all relate to, I’m sure.

But that journey, a journey of an uncertain distance and an unclear timeline, with the goal of not gaining anything other than the opportunity to witness, that’s been speaking to me right now. To follow a star, a hope, a dream, because you could. Because you should.

The Three Kings are a metaphor for Parenting. They are a metaphor for Being Trans. They are a metaphor for Making A Living With Art. They are, appropriately, a trio of metaphors for the three journeys of my life right now.

I know not how long the journey will take, or what obstacles will be in my path. I only know the direction, lit by a Star of Wonder.

Things are going to be different in 2018. There’s no escaping that. Best we can do is shape the year the best we can. Even if ends up a little rough.


Up The Wolves

Hello! You look nice today. That makes two of us.

Eagle-eyed readers will note the lack of an Instagram filter in the above folder, and remember back when I sung the praises of blurring out the details so that one can better enjoy the whole. Not using filters is a Big Deal for me when it comes to my appearance. It shouldn’t be, but that’s Trans Life in the 21st century for you. So, what changed? Well, 3 months of hormones, mainly.

I’ve also gotten pretty good with eyeliner, but it’s mostly the hormones.

(This feels a bit weird to talk about, but if I was reading this blog, I would want me to talk about it. Plus, I already posted all of this on social media, so it’s not like this is secret info, or anything.)

Three months on hormones and the results have been absolutely magical. I’ve got noticeable breasts, heavier thighs, smoother skin and my body hair growth has slowed. There’s been some subtle changes to my face, where what few edges I had in my round face have been softened to match the rest of it. Also, my nose has shrunk.

All the cartilage in my body has shrunk. My feet are a size and half smaller than they used to be, and I’m an inch shorter.

Of all the changes, that’s thrown me for a loop the most–I’ve been 5’11” with giant feet since I was 13. And it’s not that one inch or a shoe size is really that big a change, just that it changed at all.

I don’t like to think of myself becoming an entirely new person–though I know a lot of trans folk do, and that distinction is something they need. I wanted to think of this as just another step in who I am, like when I started wearing ties all the time. But when there’s physical changes like this, it’s clear that there’s more going on. I look different than I did a year ago. Not a lot, but it’s there. And the changes are only going to get more pronounced.

This is wonderful and exciting and…scary. It feels like one of those fairy tales where you find out the cost of getting your heart’s desire. I’ll finally be the “me” I always wanted to be, but I’ll have to figure out who she is.

And I suppose that should have been obvious, but it only hit me when these clear physical changes started happening. Blame it on being a visual learner, I guess.

I should add, that this level of change so quickly is not an average experience. In fact, I was mentally prepared for things to take a lot longer. Every body reacts to HRT differently. My body is either very comfortable with change–I used to put on muscle very quickly, too–or this is something my body has been wanting for a long time.

Either way, I’m ecstatic that these changes are happening, and I am looking forward to see where they lead.


Speaking of going through changes, there’s been two Frankenstein’s Support Group for Misunderstood Monsters since my last newsletter. Both of them focus on Ginger, a werewolf variation I’ve really been enjoying writing. Click on the tiles below for Chapter 2:



And Chapter 3:


And of course, there’s always Chapter 1, if you need a refresher.

I really love this comic, and if you love it to, spread the word! The more people see the comic, the longer Quirk will have me do it!


We took Wednesday to Target the other day, and came face-to-face with the merchandising juggernaut that is Star Wars paraphernalia. While fans of anything that has “Star” in the title, our house is mostly free of LucasFilm merch, beyond the odd t-shirt, art book and my hand-crafted lightsabers. All that changed when our darling daughter came face to fuzzy face with a porg. Porgs, for those who don’t know, are little aliens indigenous to the planet Luke Skywalker has been hiding out on, and they are industrial-strength cute. Our daughter could not resist. She grabbed a stuffed plush porg off the shelf and didn’t let go.

This is a pretty mean feat, as Wednesday has just learned how to control the “let go” function of her hands. The porg’s desirableness overwhelmed her love of grabbing things only to drop them. The fact that she held onto it for any length of time is a tribute to the designers.

It also does these little chirping sounds when you squeeze it that make her giggle. So of course, we had to get one.

We’re doomed, aren’t we?


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 jaredaxelrod.com, 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.


Guidance

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.


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
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.


An Awfully Big Adventure/City of Sleep

Long time, no post. No wonder the show has gone on hiatus. All I want to do is talk about the just-released Rap Battle Beyond the Stars, and the Balticon that surrounded it, but we gotta do a little house cleaning. First, An Awfully Big Adventure!

This was a strange episode, written in a rush because P.J, Matt and Kennedy were all going to be at my house at the same time, and I couldn’t let that go without recording something. We recorded it in one night, and most of the what you hear is a single performance, like a play. It was incredibly thrilling to do an episode this way. I’d like to do more full-cast recordings like this, but scheduling voice actors is hard enough as it is. Still, it’d be nice to do it occasionally. The way the actors played off each other was worth the stress of pulling the story together in time for them to record.

The story is a odd duck, whimsical with a very, very dark undercurrent I’m not sure everyone caught. Or maybe you did. I mean, Peter Pan and the Lost Boys as a suicide cult, that makes sense, right? Not a stretch?

It might be a stretch. Still, heck of a great time making it.



If An Awfully Big Adventure was all about being quick, City of Sleep was the opposite. Took awhile to get all the voice actors together to record. It’s not the most complex story of the new season–that dubious honor belongs to the upcoming Supervillain Corner crossover–but it’s on up there.

Luckily, I have some of the best voice actors around to call upon to make it work. Hillary, PJ., Len, Fred, J.R., and Jennifer all knock it out of the park.

It is without a doubt my favorite episode so far. There’s that weird, layered storytelling I like to do, and there’s a moment where you’re listening to a recording of people listening to a recording of people listening to a recording of a person listening to a recording, which makes me chuckle every time I think about it. Neil Gaiman once did an issue of The Sandman that had three layers of people telling stories within stories, and I’ve been wanting to do the found-audio equivalent for awhile now. And this story, which plays with the concepts of trust, deceit and recordings replacing memories (hi, Facebook), was perfect for that sort of rabbit hole.

Also, Genevieve‘s art for the episode is just fantastic.


So, about the hiatus.

Back when I started this new season of the show, I did not have the full-time job I do now. Which means that I haven’t had the time to write new scripts for the show. Hence the break.

Which turned out to be good timing, because not long after the hiatus started, my computer broke. When it rains, it pours, so the saying goes.

I should be getting my laptop back from the shop today, so I imagine we’ll still be on schedule for the return. Here’s hoping.

Until then, there’s the “Rap Battle Beyond The Stars,” and I’ve got a reading an some other odds and ends from Balticon to tide you over.

I don’t know how I’m going to sum up everything that happened at Balticon.

I’ll think of something.


Pledge Drives


If you follow me on social media, you probably remember me talking about how “Pledge Drives” was supposed to go up before “Welcome to the Hidden Almanac,” but was pushed back due to technical difficulties. At the time, I was little upset about it, but now, I’m actually kind of glad this episode ended up where it did. It felt right to open the new season with the Hidden Almanac crossover, and this episode does it’s job as a welcoming to the world of the show.

And what a world, that has such people in it! Listeners will recognize my sister Kate, reprising her role from “How’s It Gonna End?” as my GPR supervisor. Phil Thomas, who also put in a voice for “How’s It Gonna End?” shows up with his West Phillians partner Andy Holman. Jennifer Steen, of the much-missed podcast Jennisodes, is someone I’ve wanted to be on the show since I started looking for other people to voice it.

The real coup of this episode about fake public radio shows is two real public radio people. Edison Carter (not his real name) is an award-winning NPR journalist has done NPR’s Morning Edition in, like, three states now. And Ellen Kushner, in addition to being a beloved fantasy novelist (she wrote the delightful Swordspoint) and a subject for one of J.R. Blackwell’s In Their Own Worlds photos, also did a wonderful show called Sound & Spirit. An archive of over 90 episodes of Sound & Spirit are available online for your listening pleasure, and you and your ears (or whatever you use to listen; I don’t judge) should really take advantage of that. I recommend “Dreams” and “Tricksters,” but every one I’ve listened to so far has been great, so I imagine you can’t go wrong.


I recently saw Alexandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain, and it has quickly become one of my favorite films. It’s not for everyone–certainly not for anyone who has problems with plots that are barely there and weirdness for weirdness’s sake–and for all it’s dizzying heights, there are some pretty dismal lows. But it does have a scene where some meticulously-costumed iguanas and toads reinact the Spanish Conquest of Mexico (you can watch it here, with film’s score replaced by Apocalyptica’s cover of “Fade to Black”) and if you can’t see the brilliance in that, I’ve got nothing for you.

Yes, this is going to be referenced in an upcoming episode.

No, not in the way you think.

Actually, maybe in the way you think. You folks are pretty smart. You’ve probably got a lot of what I’m setting up already figured out.


New episodes mean a new Shirt of the Month! And for March, for your sartorial pleasure, we have none other than the glaring visage of Reverend Mord!

Who wouldn’t want that on your chest?

I’m taking votes on what the Shirt of the Month should be for April. Make your voice heard! I’m curious as which one of these shirts you folks like the most.

There is, of course, a possibility of a three-way tie. I don’t know what I’m going to do if that happens.

I’ll think of something.