I've been sitting on this project for a while now, working on it a bit here and a bit there, tweaking this and that for months, which is a bit sad given that it's all of 12 minutes long. So, I've decided that it's time for me to flip the damn switch on this thing and put it out there. This is my first attempt at producing, for lack of a better term, an "NPR-ish", non-fiction audio piece (plus text preamble), and I would love to hear what people think. I've got a few more ideas kicking around, and especially if people are into this, I may make more.

Postcards from DragonCon
So there I was at DragonCon, one of the biggest scifi/fantasy conventions in the world. I was there because two audio theater podcasts with which I've had the pleasure of being involved, Second Shift and The Mask of Inanna, were up for Parsec awards (Inanna won!), but other than a short awards ceremony, I really had no idea what to expect from or do at such a huge convention.

It's easy to feel alone in a crowd at an event like DragonCon so, reminded of my exchange with Mr. Glass, and encouraged by Seth Boyer, a musician and podcaster I met there, I... just started interviewing people; anyone who would talk to me. This is the result of that project. I recorded about 40 interviews over the course of two days, mostly between the hours of 1am and 6:30am (yes, am), and was only able to use a small fraction of them in this piece. The biggest lesson I learned is that when you go into an interview project without a specific narrative in mind (which seems to me the most honest way to do it), building a narrative out of what you get can be surprisingly difficult. I got a lot of great advice on this subject and others from Melissa Galvez, a public radio pro who was a huge help to me as I worked on editing this project. Thanks, Melissa! (by the way, as of this writing, she's in the job market, in case anyone's looking!)

One thing I wish I could have worked into the piece was some acknowledgement of the issues the con has had recently, which range from a problematic (if legally binding) relationship with its co-founder to conflicts with fan groups. I say this not because I want to bring down the many people who work hard to make Dragon*Con great, but because I think they're nonetheless important issues that warrant acknowledgement and due consideration in any introduction to the con that aspires to be comprehensive. Shortly after my return I wrote about the two biggest issues of which I'm aware, along with my general impressions of the con as a first-time attendee, here.

Music Credits (in order of audience):

Special thanks to Jamendo.com and FreeMusicArchive.org, where I found most of the music for this show, all of which is used with permission and/or under a creative commons license.

If the embedded audio above doesn't work for you, you can download the mp3 here. If I do anything else like this, I'll put it up on the RSS feed at http://geekdome.net/podcast/

If you've ever considered getting into podcasting and/or audio theater, and want to learn the basics (along with other cool tricks) of creating sound effects and doing post-production all using free/cheap software, the Post-Meridian Radio Players are hosting a FREE workshop. The goal of the workshop is to give more people the know-how they need to access this cost-effective creative outlet!

Alicia Goranson of The Mask of Inanna will talk about the basics of recording.

I'll demonstrate using Audacity to turn sounds you can record around the house into all kinds of cool sound effects like the ones used on Second Shift.

Bryan Lincoln of Fullcast Podcast will talk about doing post-production and mastering in Reaper, using examples from his own past work in audio theater and interview podcasts.

If you know someone who might be interested in attending, please spread the word!

See our flier for details (pdf version)

Also embedded below the cut )
I had a really fantastic Arisia this year for a number of reasons. Maybe it's something about the Winter, or maybe it's just what happens when you put almost everyone I know on the east coast in one place for a weekend every year, but every Arisia, good or bad, seems to encompass the milestones of that year for me, and looking back on them shows me how much things change and how much my life has changed each year.

My first Arisia was my first live performance with Second Shift, on a double bill with this other audio theater group of whom I'd never heard, called the Post Meridian Radio Players.

I attended my second Arisia with Sequoia and [livejournal.com profile] rigel, both of whom I was involved with at the time. I handled some things badly, and in a way it marked a turning point in both relationships.

I started my third Arisia in an awkward quasi-dating state with [livejournal.com profile] juldea, and left it officially dating her.

By my fourth Arisia, [livejournal.com profile] juldea and I had broken up, but I wasn't over it yet. It was also the first and only con where I didn't do any performing (which I've found has a huge effect on how much I get out of a con experience), and I got a cold Saturday night to boot. Needless to say, this was not my favorite time 'round, but even then I met both [livejournal.com profile] sandrylene (IRL, at least) and [livejournal.com profile] fontia, and I'm glad for that.

This year was distinct because not only did I do more performing and paneling than in previous years, but I was also in the most stable place socially/romantically I'd been in for any Arisias past. My romantic situation definitely deserves its own post sometime, but suffice it to say for now that not only am I very happily involved with two lovely people, I even got to perform with both of them over the course of the weekend. This among a number of other factors contributed to just about the perfect way to get 2011 started.

Some highlights:

The Starship of Madness
Friday night I did monster voices for the PMRP Doctor Who/HP Lovecraft crossover show, "The Starship of Madness", which was very well received. I hadn't expected it to be badly received, but people really liked it (apparently we even got a nice writeup in the Boston Phoenix). As [livejournal.com profile] preraphaelite and I walked the halls afterward, we each got recognized and complemented several times. This was understandable for her, because she made an awesome sexy villain, but all I did was say things like "get them!" and "flee! flee for healing!" in a funny voice, and yet people still seemed to dig it, so yay! [livejournal.com profile] read_alicia will be happy to know there were also inquiries after the author of the script. We referred them to the Mask of Inanna site. :)

Sassafrass/Stranger Ways: Dark, Nerdy, Norse, A Capella, Folk Concert Extravaganza!
On Saturday afternoon Stranger Ways and Sassafrass had a joint concert that was a joy to take part in. I'll let y'all in on a little secret: up until then I didn't really think of Stranger Ways as a band. We were just some friends who played music in my basement and were presumptuous enough to record an album to release at our second show ever. But once we were up there, jazzing off the energy of the people in the audience, and realizing that they were actually into us... it was great. I think some of the live versions of our songs are actually significantly better than the recorded versions, plus we ended up making back everything we spent on producing the album, and between the two groups we were approached by representatives of three other cons who all wanted us to perform there! I remember during one song, a sing-along where this room full of a couple hundred people were all singing with us...I started to get all choked up. It was just beautiful, and my thanks to everyone who helped make it happen.

For those who couldn't make it, we have video of most of the songs by both bands, in concert order, up on a youtube playlist here. Please check it out and share! I'm really pleased with the whole thing, but here are a few of my favorites:

- Our opener, Boys of Bedlam
- Our funniest/cutest song, Week Exchange
- A cover of one of my favorite Tripod songs, I Will Still Play (thanks to [livejournal.com profile] rubicantoto for turning me on to them!). Getting to perform this song was huge for me!
- Our big sing-along closer for the first set, Fhear A Bhata
- Sassafrass' song about the runic alphabet, in which I am comically tall, The Futhark Song
- My favorite Sassafrass song Somebody Will. I love the lyrics and sentiment of this song dearly, and didn't get to join in on the sing-along parts because I was too busy crying in the corner. I remember hearing it for the first time at a Sassafrass concert I went to with [livejournal.com profile] juldea... and now that's her singing it as a member of the group. Awesome. :)
- Finally, our big joint group closing number, Toys for Big Kids, in which [livejournal.com profile] faerieboots gets her mad science on!

Story Improv!
As if that wasn't enough, I then ran a panel, and not just any panel, the Story Improv panel! This is an event where four writers take turns writing a story based on prompts from the audience. I was the emcee, which means I was in charge of coming up with prompts to solicit from the audience and giving those prompts to one writer while interviewing the other three to keep the audience entertained. To be honest, I was really, really nervous because I'd spent so much time prepping for PMRP and Stranger Ways that I really hadn't spent much time getting ready for this, and was madly reviewing a recording of a similar panel to remember how the format went just hours before the event.

It went pretty fantastically. There is a thing about myself that I keep forgetting: if you put me in front of a responsive audience and just tell me to start talking, I can generally do it. Hopefully that lesson will stick one of these days. Anyway, there's a transcript and an mp3 up here. The recording is about an hour long, but I'm really happy with how it turned out, and it's a lot more fun than just reading the story. ;)

2010: Our Hideous Future
I continue to be amazed by the creativity and talent in the community out here. Case in point: have I mentioned that some friends of mine wrote and produced a full-length musical in their spare time? Seriously, how cool is that? It's a really fun show, and the brand new soundtrack is currently on sale super cheap at Amazon.
If you're looking for something to sample, I recommend tracks 7 and 12, which are both good songs for different reasons and both show off Kamela Dolinova's great voice, as well as #21 in which [livejournal.com profile] lediva makes an awesome singing, world-dominating computer, and #23, which sums up the show's sense of humor pretty well.

Everything else
There were just too many other things, too many little moments, to list them all. From conversations with people I don't see often, to reminiscing and joking with people about things that had been sources of great tension between us at the time, to a big, Saturday night cuddle-pile that segued straight into the con's big dance party.

All in all, it was a pretty fantastic weekend. I just hope that the rest of 2011 can keep up.



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