A grand new adventure…

If you call “trying to be organized about prepwork” for my new show “an adventure”.
LOL
I learned a lot by my mistakes and afterthoughts when making season 1 of Hancock House, and I am much better prepared (I hope) to crank out my new serial “The Decadence of Borrowed Silk”.

Among the many things I have been working on while I get all the actors’ voices gathered up, is making a list of all scenes in the entire series, and where they take place, so I can prepare all background ambiances before I am even ready to drop voices into them.

I am seriously thinking of giving each major character a distinct noise – creak of leather, rattle of jewelry, etc. – as well, so when they’re sneaking or walking, or whatever, the audience can tell who’s there….   Still thinking about that, though.

But clearly sound-delineated locations will help a lot with keeping the flow going without having to re-set everything in the audience’s minds eye every time the scene changes.

The vast majority of other shows I’ve done, however, have been modern – or at least 20th century or forward, so many of the sounds can be machines, even in different rooms of the same house – a TV, any number of clocks, the hum of a fridge, even a fishtank in one – but for my new fantasy historical setting, none of those will do.

So I’m left with more basic natural noises, and most of the places I’m defining are interior rooms of one sort or another, which leads to some problems.

I decided the Queen has birds.

The Emperor’s room has a fountain.

The Crone, deep in the catacombs, has a pot always on the boil.

The Dungeon has a drip.

The Throne Room will always open with a gong.

And the Inn’s wind chimes will be heard from different directions throughout the Inn.

etc.

I can make up these simple sound beds, with their attendant music (if any), and have them ready to go.

 

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Published in: Uncategorized on June 13, 2019 at 1:33 am  Leave a Comment  

More Short Sharp Shocks

My fabulous casts for several more of my shows!

THUMBING THROUGH
Nikki, driver – Angelique Jazz
Walsh, hitcher – Karim Kronfli
Radio – Chris Hart

FICKLE DICTATES OF FATE
JOAN Willow, secretary – Julie Hoverson
PHOEBE McMurtry, witness – Tanja Milojevic
Jack GORDON, detective – Chris Hart

YOU BET MY LIFE
Melvin – Cary Ayers
Ruby – Emily Dinwiddie-Cole
Dickie, lotto salesman – Michael Hall
Tina – Miranda Hartnell
Weldon – Thomas Rippert
Mabel – Julie Hoverson

GETTING TO THE HEART OF IT
Lewis – Austin Beach
Liddell – Shannon  Perry
Supervisor Dinah – Julie Hoverson
C-80 – Rhys Torres

 

Published in: on June 10, 2019 at 1:29 am  Leave a Comment  

The Rats in the Walls

I realized I haven’t got a cast list online for this rather impressive episode.

19 Nocturne Boulevard presents

The Rats in the Walls

From the story by H.P. Lovecraft – adapted by Julie Hoverson

CAST
Mrs. Delapore – Julie Hoverson
Capt. Edward Norrys – Will Watt
Sir William Brinton – John Lingard
Alfred Delapore – Danar Hoverson
Blackie – Reynaud LeBoeuf

Tea Ladies
Eugenie – Jennifer Dixon
Viola –  Judith Moore

Servants
Millie – Fiona Thraille
Mr. Stott – Alex Gilmour

Other Experts
Dr. Trask – Robert Cudmore
Thornton – Michael Hudson
Prof. Carnegie – Shayne McGovern
Ludlow – Gareth Bowley

Letter from the Army – Felbrigg Herriot (Cthulhu Podcast)

Locals
Matt Dixon
Gregg McLaughlin
Caitlin Sneddon

Children’s Chants, cats, etc.
Beverly Poole
Mike Campbell
Kimberly Poole

Published in: on May 30, 2019 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Naming names…

Continuing my abstract critique of things I have encountered when checking out many of the new shows as I get back into listening to recent audio dramas, I want to talk about names.

And, oddly enough, about trademark law.

I worked for 20 years as a word processor in a firm that handled primarily trademarks and patents, and while I am not an attorney, I understand the basics.  I want to use one of the most basic precepts of trademark law – what makes a good strong trademark – to help explain what makes a good name.

Trademarks, in general, are the words or pictures that define the source of a product – i.e., tell you instantly who made it, the brand, etc.  Trademarks must be protected by their owners, or offbrand copies (presumably with lower quality) can make their way to market and damage the original company’s reputation.

Typically, potential “word mark” trademarks (those without a picture or piece of artwork incorporated into the mark) fall into three basic categories:  Descriptive, suggestive, and fanciful.

A descriptive name for something is simply that – you want to sell a can of soda and call it “soda can” or “fruit soda” or something else where the words just describe the product.  These are generally untrademarkable, since you cannot ever claim exclusive use of a word or words that are purely descriptive because you cannot make it impossible for a competitor to use those same words to describe a similar product.

A suggestive mark is one where the words imply the product but do not necessarily describe it.   For example, “heavenly bubbles” could be a name for a canned soda – but “heavenly” implies a flavor or experience, while “bubbles” implies the carbonated texture.  It’s a mark where a consumer would have to think for a moment before they figured out what the product might be, if they just saw the name.

Fanciful marks are ones where the mark has almost nothing to do with the product.  “Red Bull” in no way describes an energy drink.  Fanciful marks are the most trademarkable, and the strongest in the market, since they stand out.

OK, enough about trademarks, let’s talk about show names – from a listener’s point of view.

I would set up some slightly different categories for series names, for slightly different reasons, and I would call them Unsearchable, Unmemorable, and Fanciful.

My point isn’t to single people out, or suggest people should rename their shows – but perhaps when starting  a new project, this could be something you take into consideration.

Unsearchable is frustrating as heck – names that have only common words in them, so if you do a search on the internet, it’s still almost impossible to find the show’s site unless you remember the name of one of the actors, or the production company.  Purely descriptive terms like “theater”, “show”, “podcast”, “tales”, etc., are essentially worthless for a search, while words like “night”, “dark”, “horror”, “sci-fi”, “time,” are overused.  Try using at least one unique, recognizable word, alongside some of your descriptive terms.

As a good example, “Pulp-Pourri Theatre” – “Pulp” is more or less descriptive of a genre and “Theatre” (either spelling) is overused,  but merging “Pulp” and “Potpourri” into a unique word that is somehow still easy to remember makes the whole name stand out.

Unmemorable is another form of descriptive, particularly where the words are too easy to synonymize.  “Horror tales” could be “spooky stories” could be “gruesome fables”, and blend together in someone’s mind.  Pick something that stands out, and doesn’t sound quite like anything else out there.

As an example – “Welcome to Nightvale” – “night” is certainly overused, but adding the unusual word “vale” makes it a unique compound word, and adding “Welcome” makes it a phrase, as much as a name, and thus more memorable.

Fanciful once again comes to the rescue.   When I named “19 Nocturne Boulevard”, I already had a motif in mind for the opening credits of someone giving directions, so I came up with an address that sounded kind of sort of maybe spooky (“Nocturne”), but not so much that I was locked into only writing horror stories.

I’m not saying that everyone should just keep adding words until no one can say the entire name of the show in one breath (like “The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade” (generally just called “Marat-Sade”)), but try and find a happy (and unique) medium – the goal is ALWAYS to make sure your show is memorable and easy for new listeners to find.

 

Published in: Uncategorized on May 30, 2019 at 8:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cancelling the radio station

For the one or two people who came to justpasttheautomat.com, it’s been a failed experiment, and just too costly to keep up.  Thank you very much for checking it out, if you did.

I may bring it back some time in the future.  If I do, it will be announced through
19 Nocturne Boulevard’s twitter feed (@19Nocturne) and facebook page.

Published in: Uncategorized on May 27, 2019 at 5:45 pm  Comments (2)  

Geographically speaking….

As I create the world for my new audio drama, The Decadence of Borrowed Silk, I have been pondering location names and how they come to be.  Rather than just assign random collections of letters or generic “Water Town” names, I have been trying to ground them deeper in my fictional world by looking at how names come about in our own world and history, and how they change through time.

Countries, towns, geographical features – naming follows certain patterns, but many factors can become involved in what and who things get named for, and consistency, even within a small geographical area, is not necessarily the norm.

Resemblence or Description

Geographical features are often simply named for things that they resemble – Goat Mountain, Tower Rock, and the Grand Tetons (yes, they were named for boobies).   Towns are then often named for the locale, or some outstanding place close by.  Twin Peaks,  Riverside, Great Plains.  Directions also can play a part, particularly when similarly named places end up confused one for the other – then West Mount  or North Fork come about.

Local Language

Many locations are named in some local language or dialect that may or may not still be in use.   In the Pacific Northwest, as an example, many place names are derived from the languages and names of the indigenous tribes, such as Seattle (named after Chief Sealth), Tacoma, Mukilteo, Puyallup, etc.   Many town names in England and New England – Ipswich, Midwich, Dunwich, etc. – incorporate the suffix “‑wich” from old Anglo-Saxon which probably meant town or market.

Invading Language

The history of a location may also be reflected by who invaded (or sometimes nominally purchased) it, since conquerors often renamed things to establish or bolster their rights.  Constantinople became Istanbul, countless cities were renamed after emperors when Rome expanded, and the new world is rife with old world transplants, among them notably the “new” cities named after old ones back home, like New York, New England, and New Orleans.

Religion / Invading Religion

Places are as often names for gods and saints as they are for queens and emperors, and invading churches are always quick to eradicate any trace of the old gods when they get a chance.  Rome was supposedly named for Romulus, one of the demigod brothers who founded the city, while San Jose, San Bernardino and all the other Sans and Santas throughout Spanish-occupied areas were named for Catholic saints.

Mine, all Mine

And of course, places were always being named after people.  The ones who founded the town, discovered the mountain, or funded the expedition.  Towns also got renamed when rich families came into prominence, heroes or leaders came from their ranks, or special events or inventions arose from that locale.

The Weathering of Time

And, as with everything, time chips away at words the same way it changes terrain.  Names get shortened, bastardized, run together, and the meanings forgotten.  A place once named King Mark’s Head could (centuries later) be known as Kemar Point, or the St. Mary of Bethlehem Royal Asylum for the Insane could end up just plain “Bedlam”.

Published in: Uncategorized on May 20, 2019 at 7:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Prisoner of Hancock House – cast list

Since I don’t have much ability to edit my main website, I will post cast lists here, since every single actor I work with deserves a proper mention.

Here’s a link to all the episodes so far:
http://nineteennocturne.libsyn.com/webpage/category/PrisonerOfHancockHouse

The Prisoner of Hancock House
Cast:

NOW – INTERROGATORS
Agent Charlie Cook – Kim Poole
Agent Selena Judge – Fiona Thraille
Agent Tim Zachary – Mark Olson
Professor Ephraim Howell – Rick Lewis

SURVIVOR
Mark Stockman – Michael Coleman

SECRET MASTERS
Masterton – Random boss – Robert Cudmore
Peabody – outside interest – Sarah Golding
Hathaway “Unknown” – Barry Haworth
Listener – NuttyNutchcas

PREVIOUS TEAM
Agent Rita Morgan – Tanja Milojevic
Agent Jaycee Hawk – Rhys Torres-Miller
Agent Garrett Judge – James Leeper
Ava Donner – Julie Hoverson

AT THE HOUSE
Roger Hancock – Jay Langejans
Betty – Amber Leigh
Other Voices
Nila Hagood
Marcellino Vasquez
Pete Lutz
Kyle Poole

HOSPITAL
Doctor Quant – Karim Kronfli
Nurse Tyne – Paulina Logan
Mystery Doctor – Austin Beach

Opening credits
Royal Wedding – Sarah Golding
Endeavor – Gwendolyn Jensen-Woodard
Seinfake – Terry Cooper
Mochrane – Terry Cooper
Other – Julie Hoverson

Published in: on May 15, 2019 at 3:43 am  Leave a Comment  

That %^*^%$&& cussing!

[I’m using the euphemism “cussing” throughout, since it applies strictly to bad language, whereas “cursing” goes back to a time when, in response to a bad event, we would actually consider calling down a curse on the offending object or person – “Damn you to hell, Mister Johnson – your damned dog has pooped in my roses again!”  Nowadays, we consider cussing to be more blowing off steam than directing someone’s actions – after all, when we say “fuck you!” we have no actual intent or belief that the recipient will get laid.]

Every once in a while, someone complains “why is there so much cussing in [insert media type here]?” and recently, it was audio drama.

So why is there so much cussing?

Probably because there’s cussing in real life, and most of us writing shows are writing things set in real life.  And what’s wrong with that?  What do the haters want, all of us modern folks to revert to “goldarnit!” and “tarnation!” when things go wrong?

Well…  there are those in any genre who take it a bit far and drop f-bombs right and left – much like the 3-year old at the grocery store who has learned that it annoys mommy whenever the word “poop” comes from their mouth, and just won’t shut up.

On the other hand, in real life, how many people restrict themselves from the occasional “shit!” when someone cuts them off in traffic or they find their credit card overdrawn?

A few things to consider, though, when writing….

Characters:  cussing (or not cussing) can help define a character.  These days, people who truly refrain from hard cuss words are probably more rare than not, so such behavior can help you make a character stand out.  Finding alternatives, or struggling to hold back words that make them uncomfortable are both ways to express non-cussing.  Think of Annie in “Misery” with her “cockadoody” and such.

Setting:  Whether you’re dealing with another time, or another world, the use of creative cussing can help round out your setting.  How many of us nerds still use “smeg” or “frak” after years of watching shows where these surrogate cusses proliferated?  When constructing your own framework of words, keep in mind that most cultures find scat (shit, piss, etc.) to be a fundamental subsection of cussing.

When writing something set in another time, it is important to use the words and phrases that would be common and/or acceptable in that time.  No one would “curse like a sailor” in a Victorian parlor and not be censured by the people around them – ladies might even faint at the sound, while Elizabethans might just laugh it off and try to outdo the crassness.

Many Victorian cusses were some form of watered down religious euphemism.  “My goodness” was “my god” without taking the lord’s name in vain, while “By Jove” was just swearing by a god (Jove = Jupiter = Zeus) that wouldn’t offend anyone, since it was mythology, not bible.  “Tarnation” is a regionalized deconstruction of “damnation”, while “heck” was of course the thinly disguised fiery place down below.

Another major trope in cussing throughout history is comparing the recipient to an animal of some kind, and thereby insulting them by way of what that animal represents.  This is still in fashion, and a “dog” (whether used as in my youth as an ugly person, or in more modern parlance as a man who can’t stick to one sexual relationship) is still a dog.

In the theater while watching the French film “Brotherhood of the Wolf” (“Le Pacte des loups”), I laughed out loud (all by myself, since no one else got the joke, in English or French) when one man is compared to a deer and replies “my wife would have to comment on that”.  I got it, because I know the traditional meaning of saying a man has horns (I know deer have antlers, but it’s still a common comparison) means that his wife is cheating on him.

And, depending on your time frame and social awareness – in the past, another major subset of very offensive epithets would be variations on calling someone out for behavior unbecoming their gender – aka “that’s gay”, but said in a million different ways.  It’s appropriate to many periods, and the social pressures of the time should not be forgotten, but we’re modern people and using these kinds of insults should probably be done only with very specific knowledge and intent.

Creativity:  Why limit ourselves to “asshole” and “dickhead” when we can craft much more awful and disgusting images to attach to our enemies?  In modern times, we’ve sort of codified our cussing “pick one from Column A and one from Column B” instead of the breadth and depth of creative cussing our forbears apparently laid claim to.  I mean how many fuckketty fuck fuck fucks can you really squeeze in before it becomes boring and repetitive?

I read a book many years ago (which I cannot really suggest, so will not name) that opened with pages and pages of foul mouthed ranting (published in 1928) of the most creative kind – and it really brought home what “cussing a blue streak” really used to mean.  I consider myself fairly inured to that sort of thing, and yet still flinched once or twice.

But it did open my eyes to the directions and possibilities that cussing presents to the creative mind, and therefore probably contributed directly to the wide variety of foul language that Maggie throws around in my episode “Crumping the Devil” (aka, “the cussing granny episode”), including such classics as “insurance salesmen… they’re like a bleeding pet pekinese – no balls, but once they get a grip they just won’t stop humping your leg”.

So, be creative, but respectful of etiquette for different time periods, and if your character needs to say fuck, just do it.

Published in: Uncategorized on May 14, 2019 at 7:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Downloading and naming

OK, I’m old.

Old school, and old fashioned in many ways, but I don’t listen to anything via streaming, and I don’t listen to stuff while I’m at the computer (hardly ever) because I’m usually mixing sound or writing, so it’s either music (no words) or nothing.

And yes, my phone lives at home and doesn’t do any of that stuff either.

So I listen to podcasts mainly by downloading to a thumb drive and listening in my car.  And believe it or not, I’m not the only one!  There’s still a few of us out here who eschew some portion of technology….

…and we’re not going to be able to listen to your show.

While I’ve been randomly browsing many of the shows that have come out in the time since I went into deep hibernation for years, so many of these that sound awesome don’t have (or I can’t find) any way to download.

Why cut off any possible audience? 

I realize there are contractual obligations – certain sites require a certain amount  of exclusivity – but, in general, being open to having as many people as possible hear your show should be a priority whenever possible.

 

And then, there’s the naming of files.

Having been guilty of this myself, and having seen some of the most egregious examples over the last decade or more, I just want to say:

  1.  Be consistent
  2.  Be consecutive

Sounds obvious, right?  But so many times I’ve downloaded  a bunch of episodes from several different sources, and found something like this (imaginary examples, not naming names) in my download directory:

  • Bingo_ep1
  • Bingo_episode 2
  • BingoThree
  • episode 4
  • Final 5
  • Season 1 ep6
  • Space5
  • Space epilog
  • SpaceS1E4
  • SpaceS2E1
  • Space special

Not only do I not immediately know what order some of these should be listened to in, sometimes I don’t even know which series some of the episodes belong in!

And I can easily see how, since most listeners will be getting things in order through their podcatcher, naming of files may not seem important, but it’s such a simple step, to keep everything consistent, that it seems silly not to do it – even when (like me) you’re finalizing in the middle of the night, on 2 hours’ sleep and a case of red bull, just to make the deadline you set yourself…..

–Crazy Aunt Julie

Published in: Uncategorized on May 7, 2019 at 11:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Prisoner of Hancock House

(no spoilers)

My current “opus” is the slowly unfolding paranormal mystery series The Prisoner of Hancock House, which is finally closing in on the end of its first season (episode 20).

http://nineteennocturne.libsyn.com/webpage/category/PrisonerOfHancockHouse

I am hard at work writing season 2, while also casting for a completely different serial that will be made while Hancock season 2 is recorded.  The core mystery of Hancock House will likely take several more seasons to completely unwind, since the other subplots will steal some of the screen time.

The backstory:

In 1989, on Christmas day, Roger Hancock called 9-1-1 to complain that he was being held prisoner in his own house – by a ghost.

This call was transferred to the secret organization Random, which handles paranormal activity, and a team was quickly cobbled together and sent to get Roger out.

Whatever else happened, the next night the house burned down and almost the entire team died.

Now, in 1995, the one person Random knows survived – the psychic medium Mark Stockman – has finally been located and brought in for questioning.

Stockman insists he left the first night, right after he held a seance, and knows nothing about the fire.

A little non-spoiler tidbit:

I set this back in 1989-1995 for several reasons, one because cell phones and the internet (both a bane of isolating horror stories) were still limited; and even more importantly because I originally wrote the core story of the haunting of Hancock House when I was in high school – as a roleplaying game scenario.  In fact, Roger was named after the store (Hancock Fabrics) where I had my first job, as a holiday temp.

Over the years, I’ve tried time and again to adequately spin out this mystery in fiction form – as a story, screenplay, etc. – but never quite hit on the right combination of characters to make it really pop.  So I’m super excited to finally have it in a form that I think suits it very well.

Published in: Uncategorized on April 29, 2019 at 8:47 pm  Leave a Comment