Tag Archives: Radio plays

to make your Friday more fun

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Hi… um…. it’s been awhile.  again. 

So… since December… what’s been going on? 

We’ve just finished our Spring Break– which was the first Spring Break (since what, 1996?) I’ve not spent with my family.   My mom came to visit at the beginning and the end of the week, though, and it was really nice to see her.  Becoming adult friends with my mother is a great joy, really.

Most of my creative energies these days are going into preparations and recordings of our podcast, Professor Dave’s Ark in Space– PDAIS, for short– http://profdais.libsyn.com  My co-hosts (our team has grown to 5 people now:

Professor Dave, Doctor Thomas, Viki the Vixen, International Sensation Danielle, and me!).  I so much enjoy our discussions!  I’m earning my comic book nerd card at the moment, as Doctor Thomas introduces me to graphic novels.  In this latest one, we talked all about the Asterix books.  I now understand the reference in the Eddie Izzard routine about Mister Dog.  🙂 

Oh! Oh!  And I really want to tell you about, though, are tongue-in-cheek radio serial episodes Our newest escapade is our PDAIS Presents: http://pdaispresents.libsyn.com/  Right now we’re Superheroes.  Doctor Thomas writes our scripts.  If you laugh even just half as much as we do while reading and recording them…

Work-wise, well, it gets intense this time of year. A mixture of calm and relaxed days (like today) and really difficult and frustrating days (like yesterday). I’d tell you some of the shenanigans, but you wouldn’t believe me!  [Here’s just a snippet.  I had to say the words, “‘He threw it at me first’ is not an acceptable reason for throwing books across the room.” And that was before 9am in the morning. Le sigh.]  Three weeks until our big state test, so the pressures to make the kids perform is ramped up to 11.   I’m up to my ears in grading most of the time.  Starbucks becomes a bit of a second home, as massive amounts of solo venti peppermint java chip frappachinos are required to deal with the hundreds of weekly journals. 

Personally, well… let’s just say that I’ve got a really wonderful fella and am silly happy.  *blush* 

Also (and not unrelated to the previous point), I’m planning a trip this summer [end of June/ early July] to London, England– actually finally bought my airline tickets this week, which left me dancing about the living room with excitement and glee! 

Well, that’s about that.  I’ve updated my Library Bag links along the side, and after tomorrow’s library trip I’ll try to remember to update them again.  Tonight, I’m curling up with the new Carrie Bebris book.    I’d like to blog about the Kat Atkinson novel, as it had quite a few interesting points.  Oh… and in a few months I might have a really cool short story collection by a fantastic to review for you.  I should also blog about ‘Blue Box Boy’ by Matthew Waterhouse, as that was pretty special too.

Right. Calling it a night, ya’ll.

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a beginner’s guide to Douglas Adams

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 Monty Python, Eddie Izzard, Bill Cosby, Mel Brooks, Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who …

You know that favorite thing you have– the one that you are zealously delighted to introduce to everyone around you?  That one that you can’t remember not loving?  That one that you quote from pretty constantly and crack in-jokes about with the two other people you know who are as nutty about it as you are?

For me, that thing is Douglas Adams, and I know I’m not alone. 

In fact, at this very moment, you may be sitting next to an Adams-addict.  One might be your teacher [Hi, kids.  See you all on the 24th]. One might live upstairs.   One might be your boss.  You are surrounded by Adams-addicts everyday.  How can you tell, you ask?  Do you need a magic decoder ring?  Is there a litmus test?  Do we all wear tee-shirts?

I want this.  I want this shirt.

 Here’s the test; are you ready?  Turn to any person you happen to meet, and simply ask him or her, “What is the meaning of life?”  If the answer comes back, “Forty-two,” then you, my friend, have found yourself an Adams-addict.

So he’s got a lot of fans.  Big deal– so does professional wrestling , and that’s just dumb [sorry, Jerry 😉 ] 

Well, do you remember when you first read Shakespeare and Greek mythology in high school, and then you started to see quotations and references to them everywhere?  Then you figured out that they had been there all along, but you’d never noticed, because you just didn’t know?  Adams is like that.   In fact, in science-fiction writing, there is such a thing as the “obligatory Hitchhiker’s reference.”  It appears in nearly every work of sci-fi written post-1980.  Go ahead– Google the phrase– you’ll see.

Why do we all love Douglas Adams so much?  Because the man looked at the world in an incredibly unique, intelligent, positive, and humorous way.  Then, he wrote it down. 

I could go on at length about his technique, perspective, and utterly original spirit, but I think that would spoil it for you.  Part of what draws Adams-addicts in is discovering for ourselves something new and precious every time we read his books, listen to his radio shows, watch his films, play his video games, use his towels [yes, you read that correctly– towels].

I’ll tell you how I got into Adams, but we have to go back a bit:  My father was in the Air Force in the mid-seventies, and he was stationed in England.  My mom, after their wedding, went to live with him.  Now, she didn’t have a car, didn’t know anyone, and had a husband who worked 24 hour shifts– so she spent a good deal of time listening to the radio and watching television.  She saw and enjoyed Doctor Who and Hitchhiker’s on tv.  Flash forward to about 1992 or so.  We were all living in South Florida.  My sister and I were hooked on Sci-Fi Saturday Nights on our local PBS station [WXEL].  Hitchhiker’s came on.  My mom said, “Oh, I remember this.  It was funny.  Let’s watch it.” 

I distinctly remember sitting on the cool tile floor and leaning against the couch, as the three of us watched the mini-series.  Yes, it was super cheesy in many places, but gosh, it was brilliant!  Then, my sister and I discovered the books, then his other novels… and in college, I began reading his non-fiction.  “Last Chance to See” is a wonderfully powerful book.  I found copies of his radio play scripts, watched his Doctor Who episodes, read his obituary with a deep sense of loss, and now I love “The Salmon of Doubt,” a collection of all sorts of writing that his friends rescued from his hard drive.  I have a particular fondness for the audiobook, to which many of his closest friends contributed.Ask any Adams-addict, and he or she will have a similarly personal story about discovering the brilliance that is Douglas Adams.

So, I will leave you with just a few examples of why I love Adams:

“The ships hung in the air in much the same way that bricks don’t.” 

“Scarcely pausing for breath, Vroomfondel shouted, ‘We don’t demand solid facts!  What we demand is a total absence of solid facts.  I demand that I may or may not be Vroomfondel!'”

 

“‘And I am Dr. Desiato’s bodyguard,’ it went, ‘and I am responsible for his body, and I am not responsible for yours, so take it away before it gets damaged.'”

“One of the major problems encountered in time travel is not that of acidentally becoming your own father or mother.  There is no problem involved in becoming your own father or mother that a broad-minded and well-adjusted family can’t cope with.  There is no problem about changing the course of history– the course of history does not change because it all fits together like a jigsaw.  All the important changes have happened before the things they were supposed to change and it all sorts itself out in the end.  The major problem is quite simply one of grammar…”

 

“In the end, it was the Sunday afternoons he couldn’t cope with, and that terrible listlessness that starts to set in about 2:55, when you know you’ve taken all the baths you can usefully take that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the newspaper you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o’clock, and you will enter the long dark teatime of the soul.”

“‘My name,’ said the mattress, ‘is Zem.  We could discuss the weather a little.’  Marvin paused again in his weary circular plod.  ‘The dew,’ he observed, ‘has clearly fallen with a particularly sickening thud this morning.'”

 

Are you intrigued?  Good.  Go down to your library and pick up your copy today.  Then come back and leave your favorite quotation in the comments!  Till then, my hoopy froods, Don’t Panic!

I’ve got a lot of listening to do

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First off– you guys rock!  I haven’t had this many views in one day for ages.  So, thank you all very much, and please come back and play soon!  (and leave comments so I know who you are, please.  I would like to visit your blogs, too.)

Secondly,  I have 4 new Doctor Who-esque podcasts to listen to now: Staggering Stories, Flashing Blade, Radio Free Skaro, Tin Dog.  I love you guys, but everyone comes out on a Sunday!  I end up listening to you all at once, and then having nothing but old ones all of the rest of the week.  Yes, I know I should pace myself, but it’s not going to happen.

Third, I have just realized that I never reviewed the third recently-released Torchwood radio play, so I think that will be the next one up to bat (or, perhaps, the brilliance that is “Jeeves and Wooster”).  Which ever I choose, you all have some treats coming!

this is my ipod.  i love him.

this is my ipod. i love him.

for a happy Monday

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For all of you poor darlings who have to go to work tomorrow, I will have lovely presents for you when you come home– a review of both Big Finish’s audio production of “Doctor Who and the Pirates” and a running commentary for a classic Doctor Who episode.   Check back tomorrow to find out which one…

OH– and check out my blog stats!  We’re about to hit 500!   Hooray!

Torchwood: fit the second– Golden Age

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I’m finally ready to review the second new Torchwood radio play: Golden Age by James Goss. For my review of the first new play Asylum, click here.

This one is now on itunes to buy, so you can listen to it even if you missed out on the BBC website.

Basic plot: The Torchwood team are investigating strange energy waves and people’s disappearances in Bombay, India.  Jack is surprised to discover that the origin of these energy spikes seems to be the old building of Torchwood India, which he shut down in the 1924.  Inside, he finds his old *friend* apparently not a day older than she was when the sun never set on the British Empire, nor has anything in the building changed.  He makes it his business to find out why, and how it connects to the disappearances in the city.

Once again, the Torchwood team split up here: Gwen and Ianto/ Jack and Duchess.  Jack certainly got more airtime in this episode, and it’s always nice to meet one of his old flames.  Are there ANY of these folks who don’t want to kill Jack?  (Also, much has been made of Jack calling Ianto his “assistant” when talking to the Duchess.  I did quirk an eyebrow at that one).   Gwen and Ianto do the exploring of the house and its grounds.  Most of their speech is reaction to what they are seeing. 

The episode on the whole was less of a concept piece than the previous two.  It reminded me more of one of the slower Classic Who episodes, minus the political intrigue sub-plots.

Overall, I enjoyed this episode, but I think that if I were a Brit, the plot’s main thrust of longing for the “Golden Age” of the British Empire would resonate more with me.  As it was, I could appreciate it, but I didn’t own it, so to speak.  They do spend so much of the episode building up the glories of the by-gone years, that when Jack confronts Duchess with our modern, P-C sensibilities, it feels a bit forced.  Perhaps this reflects the conflicted nature of Brit society?  I just don’t know.

That being said, this was an episode that could have worked well on television, in that it could have been set in any of those period 1920’s sets that the BBC does so well.  The fact that this stately home was in the middle of India WAS crucial in the plot, but we saw/ heard very little of Bombay itself.  Speaking of which, I think that the radio play producers could learn from the Focus on the Family Radio Theater people about realistic sound design.  They spent too much time describing locations with words instead of allowing clear and distinct Foley to do it for them.  We heard the big things, like smashing glass, sure, but what about footsteps, ticking clocks, clink of croquet balls on the lawn, etc?  Bring the setting to life, guys, come on.

**Spoiler** As for the ending, well… I saw it coming as soon as we got a glimpse of what was going on the house, and, though I understood the conversation about the machine– the actual thing itself didn’t make much sense.  The last time the shadow hooks made it all the way into the factories blocks away before the machine went critical; this time they don’t even make it out of the room.  Huh??

Should you listen to it?  Yes.

Is it the best one?  No.

 I’m interested to hear what you thought, folks. 

Torchwood Radio Plays– fit the first: Asylum

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The first of the new Torchwood radio plays was on BBC Radio 4 last week, and although it is no longer available on their iplayer, it has made its way onto itunes for quite a reasonable price.

Ah, Torchwood!  The show has really grown on me over the past several years.  I like its ability to make me interested and uncomfortable at the same time [Countrycide from season one being a prime example].  Sure, Torchwood has its flaws and can be a bit schizophrenic at times, trying to decide quite what it wants to be, but I think that those hit-and-miss times are well balanced by the strong acting and creative plot elements apparent in nearly every episode.  Besides, any show that can give us the farce/horror of Something Borrowed, the heart-breaking final minutes of Out of Time, and the chilling fairies of Small Worlds, and the pathetic sweetness of Random Shoes– all in the first two seasons– means that they have something for everyone. 

I’ll say upfront that I think Torchwood works pretty well on the radio.  In the tradition of “Lights Out” and “Dimension X,” the Torchwood radio plays use the theater of the mind to conjure ideas, locations, and situations that would be difficult (I’d say impossible, but with CGI these days…) to put on the screen.  Another nice bonus for the listener is, since the cast is so small now, each character really gets some time to develop– this was especially the case in “Lost Souls.”  That was, for those of you who don’t know, the first Torchwood radio play.  It was in honor of the activation of the Hadron Collider last winter.  The episode served as a lovely transitional piece from the end of season 2 and let Jack, Gwen, and Ianto mourn the deaths of Owen and Tosh.

To get down to the business at hand, we have the second radio drama from the original cast, “Asylum” by Anita Sullivan.   This story opens with Gwen’s former partner in the police (P.C. Andy) catching a strange girl shop-lifting.  When he sees what looks like a lazer gun, he calls Torchwood in.  The team tries to help Freda, only to discover that she is more than she seems…  I won’t blow the rest of the plot for you.  I want you to enjoy the episode’s many questions.

What did I like? 

*The story is a simple enough one that it fits comfortably into the 45 minute episode, but interesting enough that I kept wanting to know more.  This simple a story wouldn’t have worked as a television episode, but it fits nicely into the radio format.

*The writing is strong and well-considered.  I really enjoyed the blend of mystery and science-fiction.

*Given my interest in words, the discussion about the girl’s language is intriguing. 

*Speaking of which, Erin Richards, the actress playing the young girl named Freda, is excellent!  She really brought the role to life as a believable, confused, and vulnerable teenager.   In fact, this was very much the Gwen, Andy, and Freda show.  All three of the actors really have their chance to shine.  Ianto and Jack are lesser lights here, although Barrowman’s radio talents are improving nicely and David-Lloyd is consistantly strong in this format.

*The debate between Andy and Gwen over how to treat the girl highlighted the conflicts between personal freedom and community safety that we have to consider in our turbulent times.  This is the sort of thing that Torchwood does well.  It’s a serious issue with many shades of gray, and definately a concern for intelligent adults.

What didn’t I like?  

–  *Spoiler* They spent a good deal of time having Freda talk to herself in a Gollum/Smeagel sort of way.  I was expecting it to factor into the resolution more.

-The ending felt a bit rushed, like they needed about 5-10 more minutes to really give it the time it deserved.

– The Torchwood theme music feels a bit heavy as the tags on a radio drama.

-I would have liked to hear more of Ianto, who has a very nice voice presence on the radio.

Overall-  an interesting episode and well-worth the time.  I’m pleased.  Let me know what you thought.

Review of “Golden Age” coming later this week…