Th’ Marsk o’ Inanna

When Neil and I were getting ready to record the first episode of MoI in 2010, I propositioned a possible spinoff – a pirate-theme show called “Th’ Marsk o’ Inanna”. It went something like this:

 

LEN: Aye, me swashbucklin’ days be over. My fair wench Gwen be in the clutches o’ Davie Jones, and I be at th’ ol’ Buccaneer’s home.
<SFX>: CRASH
DAVID: Awast ye! Cap’n Leonard Allen be ye?
LEN: Who be ye, ye swinish seaman who’s overturned me chamberpot and spilled me grog into it?
DAVID: I be Cap’n David Lerner-Lewis o’ the Good Ship Inanna! We be needin’ a storyman and bardteller as fine as ye’self to inspire th’ crew as we sail about in these waters, makin’ goods o’ our own and takin’ nae crap from no man!
JESSIE: Aye! And I be the First Mate!
SCOTTIE: I be the cabin girl! ‘Til next port when I set sail for Holyoke!
JESSIE: Go rig us another set o’ munitions fer our darin’ escape!
SCOTTIE: Aye aye! Munitions ahoy!
DAVID: Yah, mates! We set sail for the forbidden Land of the Sea Robin, where franchised rest’raunts fear ta tread!
LEN: An’ what d’we do this for?
JESSIE: Doubloons o’ gold!
DAVID: And wenches!
SCOTTIE: And boy wenches!

(Then they sail off and kidnap a ship for a reason I can’t remember.)
DAVID: Aye! What be this ship carryin’? Tis many a spool o’ a strange silk I’ve never seen.
CAPTIVE: It be rubber, good Sir!
SCOTTIE: Rubber, eh? Methinks it has a date wit’ me sewing kit!

(And then Len tells an alternate version of “By the Brake Lights’ Red Glare“)
LEN: But ye see… the East India men had a trick o’ their own. Ol’ Abe’s ship had struck theirs fair and true no doubt. But thar was no one inside! The India men had a’taken to leavin’ it out as warnin’ to all noble pirates not to be a-plunderin’ their waters. And so ol’ Abe was let free to his wife and his wenches. A happier man ye never saw!

(And then Bob Stroud attacks their vessel.)

STROUD: Not so fast! I be takin’ the old man fer meself. And not in that way! Take yer heads outta th’ gutters and fill ’em with grog!

 

Yeah, that’s as far as I got.

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Show Notes for Season 2, Episode 3 β€œThe Black Velvet Ribbon”

I frikkin’ loved getting to the point at which I could write this episode. I’d been building up to it for the past seven and finally, the audience gets some fantastic pay-off after listening to plot points introduced in the admittedly less-than-stellar first 3/4 of S01E02.

The title comes from the old story that most middle-schoolers in the States have to read. A man marries a woman with a black velvet ribbon around her neck, who cannot take it off – for reasons very similar to the reasons that a certain character in this episode is unable to remove a similar chain. Very Halloweeny. This title didn’t come to me until the episode was written, as you’ll see why below.

The plane ride wasn’t intended to be a callback to Shatner’s greatest moment on the Twilight Zone. The purpose was, Len and Scottie needed to be in an enclosed space, and I needed to establish/foreshadow the true horror of the Big Bads of the episode, specifically their power:

“It also poses a danger if allowed into a room with a fresh corpse; a [Big Bad] is believed to be capable of reanimating a body by jumping over it.”

The inspiration for the Big Bads, as with most other things in my life, is in fact the Shin Megami Tensei series. I have been trying to get Shin Megami Tensei demons in everything I’ve done with PMRP and Neil, to my constant frustration, keeps taking them out. (For example, I had Decarabia in The Sirens of War in PMRP’s 2010 Tomes of Terror show, but Neil and Jess took him out.)

So, we start with the airplane scene to establish with the Big Bads can do with the chicken meat, and to teach the listener to expect a lot more “Uth, uth uthing” in the future.

The next scene, Dot’s back. Come on, if you’re going into the supervillain’s lair, you have to meet The Dragon again, particularly if you never saw her die. I wanted each of the churches to have their own type of demons, and I thought that the Mammons would want some mind-control ones. The fight-or-flight response is bred into us so having the demons tap into that was the natural course of action. Naturally, Huginn and Muninn couldn’t speak directly (what creature from other world could?) so they speak in mashed XTC lyrics. Have I mentioned that XTC is my favorite musical group in all of existence? That I’m a tremendous fan of Andy Partridge‘s works? Listen to this and tell me you don’t feel smarter and better off from having heard it afterwards. Anyhow, unless you’ve listened to their catalog dozens of times, you won’t figure out which songs each of these mashed up lyrics come from.

I was waiting to do the reuniting scene with Bob Stroud for a long time, although not as long as you might think πŸ™‚ James Scheffler had announced he was returning to military service in January 2010, before we have released S01E05, and so I was like, ohshitohshitwehavetorecordallyourstuffnow. So James braved through a marathon six hour recording session to record everything in S02E03 and S02E04 at once. He had a cold and by the end of the afternoon he had no voice left. Please be upstanding for the bravery and tenacity of James. He did an incredible job because, he doesn’t sound like an old guy. He sounds like a young guy doing an old guy’s voice. And yet he completely pulls it off. He sounds every bit as jaded and burnt as I envisioned Stroud at that point.

Also, for all you budding radio drama engineers out there, quiet scenes like these are just as hard to program as more complex ones. You have to add the physicality of the presence of the voices in your quiet scenes. Sure, I could have had all of the characters as talking heads, but I added their footsteps, the rustling of their clothes, their shifting on the leather couches, all put in at such natural points that the listener doesn’t hear them – tunes them out. You add so much to a scene by doing this, and as you probably know already, it’s very hard work to make scene elements so natural that the audience won’t notice them at all.

(Also fyi – the scene fragments with Dot/Jennifer Pelland were recorded months later, but they integrated great so you can’t tell.)

Anyhow, they go back to Bob and he can’t help them. If you’ve read my novel Provincetown, Ho!, you’ll notice that this is a familiar theme in my work. I could have sworn that I was influenced by this theme from a Steinbeck novel in which a boy who grew up with only his mother goes on a long trip to find his father, and then meets him in a pool hall, all expectant to finally be able to bond with him, only to find that his dad is a selfish bastard who asks him if his mother sent him over for her alimony. I could have sworn it was East of Eden but the internet is telling me otherwise. No idea what book it is then.

Ah, The Shivers of Highway ’61. Yes, I was watching TCM and yes, Marlon Brando’s “The Wild One” was on. I am really a simple soul. I hope you enjoyed “The Rolling Stones” joke as “The Wild One” spawned The Beatles. Also, a bit of Rosie and Pig’s dialog was improvised by Mike and Jenny. I had to keep it in πŸ™‚

After that, we have a scene in which Dot has a moment of intimacy with Scottie. I wanted Scottie to understand how well someone can get under her skin and how out-of-her-league she was. I often feel that way myself, being functionally developmentally younger than my actual age (as is the case with most autistic-spectrum people). That’s why we connect with animals so much, like Temple Grandin – we’re not as “developmentally mature” as you all are.

So, off Len and Scottie go when the Big Bads attacked. The whole “Focus, Pray Offer” schtick was created when I was writing these set of scenes. I needed for Len to be able to get a one-up on the Big Bads and I had to have established it in earlier episodes. So I had to go back through all the episodes in which Len interacts with the Big Bads and add the whole “Focus Pray Offer” schtick. Sorry about that. Had to do it. Didn’t want to. Boss told me to.

The scene in the liquor took me a month to do. I’m not kidding – it’s about 25 tracks and everything in hand-placed. At first, the puppet’s footsteps were sounding off so I had to move each one in relation to their grunts. I had to go through all the actors’ grunts and sort them and pick only the best. This was a very tedious scene to do.

Julia and Kerri sang the minor-key Alouette on the spot, way back in 2009 when they were first cast. I’m very proud of their work.

Andy (Len), whose voice work is so spot-on that I generally don’t mention it here (what was that I was saying about work so good that you don’t notice it?), had some confusion about how to do this scene initially. He did the initial takes playing the lines for laughs, and I had to keep telling him, no, this was a serious and scary scene. He replied that the lines were funny, which they are in one context but not in this one. Len had been hit in the head, had significant blood loss, and was in full-on insane-prophet mode. After the first take, Andy asked me to explain exactly what I wanted, and I said, in this scene Len is entirely hindbrain. He’s saying the first thing that comes to his head. He’s not entirely in control until something happens that brings him around. (And Andy did fantastic once he started thinking like that.)

With regards to the something that happens (no spoilers), I wasn’t planning it. Just when I was writing that scene, thinking about the Big Bads’ motivations, I couldn’t think of a single reason why they wouldn’t do what they did. So they did it. And it turned out to fit very well, thematically.

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The Mask of Inanna – Season 2, Episode 4, Part 2 – Apocalypse

THIS IS PART 2. Please listen to Part 1 first.

In Part 2 of this final episode, Leonard Allen and David Lewis collide in an apocalyptic showdown.

This episode’s “After Dark” tale: “The Golden Rescue of Sinbad”.

Size: ~74 MB \ Running Time: 01:20:35

Alternative download link: here

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The Mask of Inanna – Season 2, Episode 4, Part 1 – Apocalypse

In Part 1 of this final episode, Leonard Allen turns against his benefactors to deliver the final show, while horrific events conspire to stop him. (Part 2 is available here.)

Size: ~53 MB \ Running Time: 00:58:17

Alternative download link: here

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Show Notes for Season 2, Episode 2 “Smoking Monkey”

If there ever was an episode which had to exist for narrative structure, this would be it. In development, I often wished I could have moved Allen and Scottie from Point A to Point B in one scene at the end of Season 2, Episode 1, but alas, it was not to be. Also, I had a lot of setup to do for the final episode in this one.

So, the intro scene in which Chris shows up again… the original Season 1 Episode 5 was called “Red Roses for a Blue Scottie” and was cut for various reasons (we weren’t sure we were going to make it that far and making the episodes was a lot of work and that one could be safely cut). However, it introduced two big point points that I had to shoehorn in other episodes. One plot point went into Season 1 Episode 2, and the other went into this intro scene. It was done much cooler in the original “Red Roses”, but hey, we work with what we have.

The scene with David Lewis reading Nicolette’s letter – I was originally going to have Nicolette doing work in Team Lioness in Iraq, but the rest of the cast pushed me to keep Nicolette on base. (That’s why we have all that “you know how many soldiers are killed from IEDs hurled over the walls” lines – originally I wanted Nicolette out and about, but they didn’t understand Lioness and I was tired of having to justify it.) Anyhow, I was originally going to have an actor playing Nicolette reading it, but then I realized that that would be too distracting from the emotional intensity of the scene. Plus Doug has a fantastic voice and who am I to deny our listeners from hearing it?

Next scene, Scottie: “Everything closes at nine. Nobodyβ€˜s supposed to have a life.” HI, POCASSET, VILLAGE IN WHICH I GREW UP. NO, NO, THIS ISN’T A COMMENTARY ON YOU IN ANY WAY. (During Thanksgiving, I commented to my sister, if any European folks had come to stay in Pocasset, they’d be all, “So, where’s the bus?”)

I loved “hearing” the scene in which Allen tests the Speed Bump’s teleporting techniques by trying to steal a boat when I wrote it. I know exactly which dock he’s going to in Pocasset to take it.

And the “Smoking Monkey” story. I generally put on Turner Classic Movies when I’m editing (with the sound off) for inspiration and they regularly play “Mutiny on the Bounty.” So I needed Allen to tell Scottie a story here and I didn’t quite have it until I heard someone on NPR talking about how they used to make chimps smoke cigarettes for films. (And if you were ever a part of this, screw you and I hope they relegate you to the special part of hell run by Jane Goodall.) So the story came naturally after those influences. Being a writer is less about what you can come up with out of the blue and more about how you can pick apart things to which you’ve been exposed and reform them in entertaining ways.

Allen vs. Lewis – this was the main crux of the episode and I wish I’d have been able to do more with that. Allen purposefully getting wasted (set up in Season 1 Episode 2) was a plan for a long time. Originally, instead of the Long Walk, Allen and company went on a camping trip (during which said enclosure was built around the lighthouse). It…. uh…. had to be re-written. It had some good moments but just moved the action away and felt more like “okay, let’s kill time until the next plot point.”

The “twist ending” isn’t really a twist – if you listen to the show again, you’ll hear that I put hints of it throughout the show.

Finally, the minisode itself was originally written to be performed live for PMRP’s New Year’s Eve performance in 2009. Neil decided that there wasn’t time to do an original piece so they did an episode from Rob Noyes’ Red Shift show. I don’t know – I was kinda proud that I’d thought up the concept of a Noir-esque show about Boston’s ice industry, with an “I’ll show them – I’ll show them all!” performed without irony at the show’s crux.

By the way, you should really check out Rob’s fantastic blog “Postcards from Skyrim“.

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Trailer for Season 2, Episode 4 – Apocalypse

Next time on The Mask of Inanna, Season 2, Episode 4, the end is here, and who will survive Inanna’s Apocalypse?

Size: ~3MB \ Running Time: 2:58

This two-hour episode is scheduled for release on/near Sunday, January 29, 2012.

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The Mask of Inanna – Season 2, Episode 3 – The Black Velvet Ribbon

In which Bob Stroud returns in this special Halloween episode.

This episode’s “After Dark” tale: “The Shivers on Highway 61”.

Size: ~70 MB \ Running Time: 1:16:13

Alternative download link: here

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Boston Free Radio Airing Season 1 9/19 – 10/17

Boston Free RadioThe Post-Meridian Radio Players are pleased to announce that Boston Free Radio will be airing Season 1 of The Mask of Inanna every Monday night at 10PM EST, starting tonight September 19 to October 17, 2011.

Boston Free Radio has a stream available over the live365 service which listeners can catch by clicking the “Launch the Boston Free Radio Player” link on their home page.

Boston Free Radio’s broadcast schedule is available here.

They will be broadcasting our second season in January 2012.

Again, we are very excited about this opportunity! Thanks to Boston Free Radio’s programming department and to PMRP’s own Chris Dekalb for making this happen!

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Trailer for Season 2, Episode 3 – The Black Velvet Ribbon

Next time on The Mask of Inanna, Season 2, Episode 3, Bob Stroud returns, baby! And he’s bringing the horror show with him.

Size: ~2MB \ Running Time: 2:32

This episode is scheduled for release on/near Sunday, October 16, 2011.

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The Mask of Inanna – Season 2, Episode 2 – Smoking Monkey

In which Leonard Allen quits the show.

This episode’s “After Dark” tale: Why would there be one? Leonard Allen quits the show!

Size: ~71.4 MB \ Running Time: 1:17:57

Alternative download link: here

Also, check out the soundtrack to our friend Unreliable Narrator’s new cyberpunk musical, “2010: Our Hideous Future“! Available via iTunes or Amazon! More information here!

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