Trailer for Season 2, Episode 2 – Smoking Monkey

Next time on The Mask of Inanna, Season 2, Episode 2, Allen quits the show.

Size: ~2MB \ Running Time: 2:31

This episode is scheduled for release on/near Sunday, August 14, 2011.

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Show Notes for Season 2 Episode 1 “Glory Days”

This was the hardest episode I ever had to put together. I started working on it in March and finished it on the day of release. I had only given myself February off to recuperate from the grueling pace of production on the first season. In retrospect, I needed more time off but then again, you would have had to wait even longer for the new season.

So, three things happened:

  1. I was burnt out and I had to re-learn how to manage my energy, time and work habits to get into the flow of production again. I’ve only just managed to do that with Season 2 Episode 2.
  2. I had to schedule and conduct all the recording sessions for S2Eps 1-3.
  3. Work at my day job exploded. We are now contracting out a lot of work to one particular contract house in India (and yes, this is a no-bid contract which kinda defeats the purpose – basically the head of our company is doing his extended family a favor). However, the contractors we are using were entirely ill-prepared for the work. I was brought in and given these massive emails filled with questions and incorrect assumptions that took me months to parse out and answer – while attempting to train this group. Saying I was stressed was putting it mildly.

So “Glory Days” took me three months to do. It’s lonely work, doing all this editing myself without anyone to bounce ideas off of. When I had finally cut a draft together the week before the release date, I took it on the standard car-radio-test – and I was really disappointed. It lacked energy. Conversations would shift in tone, dramatically. I know it was in trouble even during production – I actually had Leslie come back and record a ton of Gwen’s lines. (Neil was kind enough to speed up the Fanbeings’ lines for me since Audition was introducing too many artifacts.) So I spent that Thursday through Saturday painstakingly recutting the episode together from scratch. The original Audition file has all the tracks in nice clean strips. The reworked file looks like a crocodile’s skin – the tracks were sliced up in a very fine manner and a lot of the key special effects were redone.
Fortunately, it worked out. But no episode has made me more miserable and stressed out than that one.

Okay, onto the episode itself. “Glory Days” = Bruce Springsteen, etc. etc. Now you know what the Mouse and the cats were talking about in Season 1 when they said, “She’s going to be very mad, you know.” We were originally going to include that line in Season 1 Episode 1 but we weren’t sure we would make it through that season.

The reveal had to be organic – so I had to give Len something that he would feel as passionately nostalgic about as Inanna would. So Gwen returns, as foreshadowed in Season 1 Episode 2. Leslie was cast as Gwen back in 2008, I think, but it took us a while to get around to her. Sorry about that! (Andy was also cast as Len before Neil had come to me with the project. Fancy that.)

This episode is about the feelings I got when I dreamed about my mother being alive. She died in 2008 from breast cancer and I wrote this episode shortly after that. Gwen isn’t an analogue for my mother – this was more about the feelings I had about seeing a dead person alive again.

Also, being a post-humanist furry with Asperger’s syndrome, I was very happy to be able to write a story about an interspecies romance in which the participants actively fight to make the relationship work.

The “June Comes Around Every Year” leitmotif was a lucky accident. I knew I needed a leitmotif so I went to my volume of public domain jazz and that ws one of the first tracks I heard at random.

The initial scene with Allen and Gwen meeting for the first time is my favorite scene in the whole show. (Well, actually second favorite, but my favorite is in one of the scripts we won’t produce, in which a young David Lewis chases after a young Jessie while she’s trying to buy weed.) I really love the tender character establishment that happens over only two pages of script. Andy and Leslie pulled it off amazingly well. That scene was originally smooshed in the middle of the episode – a flashback happening on the lighthouse cliffside – but it was too good for that spot. And it sells you on the romance early in the episode.

The church dinner at the beginning – that’s only four people doing the congregation’s voices, believe it or not. There’s a lot of audio trickery that took a while to do to make it sound like tens of people.
When Len meets Gwen at the dinner, I wanted Gwen’s cane to be more a part of her character than it became. You may notice that she walks to the beat of “June Comes Around Every Year”.

I love the scene in which Len and Gwen break up, too. My Presonus audio board died during the recording of this scene so I missed out on recording a hilarious take that Andy and Leslie did, doing the scene as a comedy bit.

So, did any of you pick up in Season 1, Episode 1, that David Lewis says he’s from the Harper Foundation, and that Scottie introduces herself as Sara Harper in that exact same episode? Or did you only realize it when David says it in this episode?

The “charms” special effect is a set of windchimes I have, nestled in a sweater, and spun around in my bedroom until I was sick and nauseous – multiple times, and then with the takes overlayed. The things I do for you guys.

The scene on the lighthouse cliffside had a good quarter of the dialogue chopped out of it to make it work. But thank goodness… I got it to work. That scene just wasn’t working for so long, I didn’t know what I was going to do.

The Mouse flipping the lighthouse – well, heck, I had already established the “two worlds” concept – what kind of post-modern author would I be if I didn’t actively flip it around? Basically, it’s like a fish wanting to talk to you so it floods your house.

I had to do the Fanbeings. The script compelled me – because there’s a reason for the Fanbeings which we won’t get to until the last episode.

The minisode, “The Never People” is based on what I thought the average 1950’s suburbanite would think of our modern economic system. In the 1950’s, you almost never saw a bank in a strip mall – that was almost like crossing a line. Offering money and credit right next to the places you’d go and spend it? That’s just… unseemly and unwholesome and oh god where can I sign up? But wait – where’s the money going to come from? You’re not mortgaging your children’s future just for a few extra baubles today? Oh god, you are! I knew it! (Also, damn, that’s a nice television you future people have – how did you get it to be so flat?) So, yes, “The Never People” is kind of a Twilight Zone conspiracy theory about the future.
I really like the spider walking sound, mostly because of how long it took me to do. Each step is a creak and the scratch together, arranged to match the footsteps of Rose Hair Tarantulas walking, based on many Youtube videos I found.

After Gwen gets defaced (and seriously, what did she expect would happen when she grabbed two squirmy kitties with great big claws?) that’s me as the scratchy voice that underlays Leslie’s lines. I recorded lots of takes and even then I had to rechop them to match Leslie’s lines. It was a fairly horrible experience, particularly to my throat, and I’d rather not do it again.

The ending – I definitely wanted to leave the audience with that dichotomy – the big reveal doesn’t matter next to Len’s sadness. I’m fairly happy with the end result.

Thanks to Andy and all the actors that made the considerable effort to get this episode done.

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The Mask of Inanna – Season 2, Episode 1 – Glory Days

In which Leonard Allen’s longtime girlfriend Gwen returns, and the Prayer is revealed to be a Very Bad Thing.

This episode’s “After Dark” tale: “The Never People.”

Size: ~65MB \ Running Time: 1:10:54

Alternative download link: here

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The Mask of Inanna, Season 1 Scripts

There has been a call for folks who want to read the original scripts for The Mask of Inanna, Season 1, and who am I to deny you anything!

**WARNING – YOU CAN’T GET MORE SPOILERY THAN THIS. IF YOU DOWNLOAD THESE WITHOUT LISTENING TO THE SHOW FIRST, IT’S YOUR OWN FAULT.**

S01E01 – Pilot Pilot Burning Bright

S01E02 – Anything You Want

S01E03 – They Only Want Crask

S01E04 – The Rescuers

S01E05 – The Mask of Inanna

(All scripts are trademarked and owned and controlled forever by Alicia E. Goranson, and probably Neil Marsh too.)

Note that the content of this scripts may not exactly match what’s in the episodes. I do edit.

Also, please don’t go and recreate these without paying me some of that sweet sweet elusive internet money and OH GOD DON’T MAKE US HAVE TO SELL T-SHIRTS. THEY ONLY MAKE CAFEPRESS RICH AND US LOOK LIKE SUCKERS!

 

And a special bonus for y’all… the very first draft of S01E01 from March, 2008! Early early early….

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The Mask of Inanna – Season 2 Teaser

Hey folks! We’re planning to start Season 2 of The Mask of Inanna on June 12, 2011.

Here’s a tidbit of what you’ll hear then, straight from the Allen’s mouth!

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Modern History of the Church of Inanna

Again, SPOILERS for people who haven’t listened to Episode 5.

Here is the history of the Church of Inanna from the early 20th century to present. This is part of the treatment I wrote to explain the show to Neil Marsh, and follows the discussion I presented in the previous blog post.

Listeners of the show should be interested to read this, as it explains the period between the 1950’s portions of the show, and the present. (This was originally presented in an episode which we are not planning to produce.)


The Church  of Inanna has had three major crises in the twentieth century. The first was World War I, in which many of its members were called to war. A vast number of the Church’s men will killed, and those who returned home came with great trauma. These men used their inner-power to heal themselves slowly by doing works for Inanna, and these works kept the Church alive until the next great crisis.

When it became clear that the United States was about to involve itself in the Second World War, the Church’s members feared their numbers would be thinned as badly as in the previous World War. They pledged great works to Inanna in advance, and the members who were not called to fight prepared a great Prayer to devote to Her. As part of the initial pact between the Church and Inanna in the 19th century, the Church was granted the Mask of Inanna, which was similar to the Mask of Warka (http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/09/23/sprj.nilaw.warka.mask/). This mask was a Me (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_%28mythology%29) which contained the wisdom of many rituals. One was a ritual Prayer  similar to the Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (“A Gathering of One Hundred Supernatural Tales”), in which Inanna might be pleased with one hundred nights of reinterpretations of Her favorite tales. In return for this devotion, the practitioners begged Inanna (in the final story) to spare their men overseas the sin of their military service, so that the Church might continue and the soldiers might have the chance to create great works for Her after the war.

Pleased by the Prayer, Inanna sent demons (from the Inanna descent myth) to watch over and protect their men from harm. The demons came in many forms, sought the hearts of those around the men and took those who intend any ill will towards their men to the underworld. However, when the war was ended, the men returned home shell-shocked by both the war and of witnessing the demons who protected them at the cost of terror.

Matt Lerner was one of these young men. He became a heavy drinker to handle his stress. Isabel Huddleston was a friend of his, who had lost her husband in the war before the Prayer had been finished. Both were instrumental in the formation of the third great crisis.

In 1952 when the draft was resumed for soldiers in the Korean War, the congregation decided to prepare a pre-emptive Prayer again (having almost Pavlovian devotion to this response to upcoming war). However, the Inanna community had become greatly decentralized after the Second World War as families had split away to find new opportunities for work. As well, many of the soldiers were still demoralized and hadn’t had time to pursue their works of devotion and to make peace with themselves. So they decided that the next Prayer would be their Work, and that they would issue it over the radio so that all the various Church members could participate in the Prayer. The show was called AfterDark, and hosted by Leonard Allen (discussed next section). However, 93 episodes in, the Church of Mammon seduced Bob Stroud, business partner of Allen, by offering a fast-track to its inner ring in return for stealing the Prayer’s scripts and starting a competing show, essentially putting AfterDark off the air and stealing Inanna’s Prayer for their own. Mammon, being a trickster, enjoyed this and rewarded His followers justly.

After losing Allen, Matt, Isabel and rest of the town were thoroughly demoralized. Fortunately, few members were called to service. The others used prophecy and illusion to avoid service as best as they could. However, coming to terms with 1950’s consumer culture was both a boon to the community, who developed thriving niche business, and a curse, from increased pressure and scrutiny from the other families around them, and from the increasing amount of information spread through media, which threatened to expose them as a “cult”. With communist and socialist hysteria growing, the congregation feared discovery. When their children began to question why their parents were becoming so secretive and strict, they began to use illusion and rudimentary mind control on their children to keep them quiet.

David Lerner was Matt’s son, and Jessie Huddleston was Isabel’s daughter. When they were in their teens in the 60’s, they were stressed, depressed and physically abused. They rebelled as best as they could. Jessie ran from home and David invoked the name of Allen on his parents, turning Allen’s memory into his pet boogeyman to torment them. David began to spend more time with a demon that had returned home with his father, a large amorphous tar-like blob that the community named the “Speed Bump”, and learned basic communication with it. Matt was deathly afraid of the Speed Bump and David also used this to his advantage. David scared his parents into sending him to college, around the time that Jessie returned home from San Francisco, burned out in her early twenties. Jessie’s experiences with hallucinogens had opened her eyes to the vast number of other beings that surrounded her, and she sought balance with them in the Church. David, on the other hand, returned from college and preached a renewal movement, emphasizing that the Church had to adapt to the modern world and that real-paying work was not contradictory with worship of Inanna. He started a schism that split off a large portion of the Church under his leadership.

Near the end of the 1980’s, David’s renewal movement had floundered. Rituals failed to produce any response from Inanna and awakened no inner-power within the practitioners. Many of the congregation, including David, had lost their jobs and were living on savings or in poverty. Dejected, David and his new wife and daughter returned to the main Church and sought to reconnect. Jessie had become High Priestess by then but accepted David back as a High Priest, so that the two branches of the Church might reconnect. This was necessary as the main Church had lost many members to the avarice of the eighties, and was on the verge of collapse itself. Integration was slow and painful for everyone involved, but the Church continued to minister to its congregation, which consisted mostly of close friends to David and Jessie. The remnants of the Church moved to an enclave on Sea Robin Island, where they could practice in peace, be within driving distance of major New England cities, and defend themselves against other competing inner-power polytheist Churches.

In 2003, the Iraq War began. David’s daughter and many of the other children had not grown up as members of the inner ring – rather, they had relied on their parent’s inner-power to help them study, and so forth. With pressure from their friends and the loss of family time with their parents, they were scared about their own job prospects and knew too many of David’s renewal movement who hadn’t gotten back on their feet. They doubted that worship of Inanna could support them in the depression of the 1990’s and the growth and crash of the tech sector in the 2000’s. With long traditions of military service in their families, they joined the Armed Forces for the training, to do good in a struggling nation, and because they viewed their parents as weak, and feared the same weakness existed within themselves.

It is here when the show begins.

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History for the Inner-Power Polytheist Churches

WARNING – SPOILERS FOR FOLKS WHO HAVEN’T HEARD EPISODE 5.

 

Here is a write-up I made to explain the history behind the various churches (to Inanna, Mammon, Artemis, Odin, etc.) discussed in The Mask of Inanna. I did a lot of research into world religions to develop this treatment.


The inner-power polytheist Churches are faiths built around the view that the universe is a social balance of powers, and that a personal relationship with one or more of these powers can awaken “inner-power” which leads to knowledge of both invocation (power over one’s psychological self) and evocation (power over the physical self and world). Like the Deists, they believe that the Gods speak in revelations which are particular to individuals, but while the Deists intended this to be an attack on mono- or polytheistic cosmologies, the inner-power polytheists accept that dogma can be a necessary evil, as well as a reflection of the collected revelations from multiple individuals in communion with a deity. Communication is not straightforward – one will never hear a deity speaking English, but Their Will will be known in one way or another. Inner-power polytheists generally form a pact with their deity early in the formation of their faith, which settles into dogma after a single generation. Without skill in the art of divine interpretation (described by Michael Harner in “The Way of the Shaman”), an inner-power polytheist faith may not survive into its second generation. Theories abound in the true nature of deities – individuals or aspects of a greater whole – but certain things are known, such as that they can be very attracted to a particular physical location, whether or not it has any worshippers.

Inner-power polytheist faiths are generally defined by their “inner” ring, a circle of devotees who practice the skills of worship, counseling to other members, and inner-power. Usually, the inner-powers studied are intertwined with the creed of the faith itself. Inner-power rarely is manifest in monotheist faiths, as their focus is on divine love and compassion, and inner-power contradicts many of their tenets with its worldliness. Even Pentecostals who deliberately call for invocation and evocation from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit rarely awaken inner-power, since they do so in such a haphazard manner that can’t be replicated any better than hitting a spot on a wall while blindfolded.

However, a great contradiction exists within inner-power polytheist faiths. All faiths want to grow and spread. But inner-power polytheist faiths require the existence of an inner ring, and access to this ring is limited by the social interactions of the human animal. Essentially, the human propensity for drama keeps them deliberately small.

The practitioners of inner-power polytheism would generally refer to Gerald B. Gardner as “one of us” with a hint of sorrow and condescension.

The Church of Inanna is a faith from the Modernist branch of the inner-power polytheism Churches. As a Modernist faith, it is one of many formed to reconcile the discovery of scientific principles with inner-power – seeking to understand the rules behind inner-power. Starting in post-Civil War America, this faith is a reaction against industrialism, and promotes the idea of human dignity, that the soul is best able to thrive and illuminate the world when it is not confined to the despotic will of others.

While its origins are not fully known even by its congregation, this Church was first recognized in the Chicago area in several communities of immigrant tradesmen and artists whose families who heavily involved in factory life. There are theories that these people were descendants of Swedenborgian heresy cults (who did not believe in the Swedenborg principle of personal survival after death, but that the “spirits” contacted through mediums were something else entirely), or from the practitioners of old-world faiths whose practices failed to adapt to the rise of industrialism – perhaps some of both is true.

The congregation of the Church of Inanna is divided into two groups – outer and inner rings. There are separate services for each, and the High Priest or Priestess must support both sets. However, the progression from outer to inner ring occurs when a member of the outer ring can demonstrate the awakening of inner-power in themselves. Thus, unlike other inner-power polytheist Churches, progression to the inner ring is not limited by the whims of existing members (as it is in the Church of Mammon, for instance). Inner-power for members of the Church of Inanna generally manifests as perseverance, increased creativity (the elimination of ‘creative blocks’ so to speak), and in the physical realm, illusions (even melding illusions with reality). Inanna Herself is a Goddess of great passions (other faiths refer to her as “the Wild Maiden”) and encourages Her practitioners to be similarly passionate.

One of the Church’s prime tenets is that industrial work is industrial life; you cannot have one without the other. Thus, members are expressly forbidden from mass production, or mass retail jobs – anything without a significant amount of personal flexibility. Thus, most office work, fast food and production line jobs are off-limits, unless for a small, understanding company. Thus, practitioners are generally limited financially and are inexorably tied to the inner-power which allows them to produce more than the average person and finds them new clients when work is low. The only exception to this rule is military service, as Inanna is the Goddess of War. (This avoids an irreconcilable contradiction such as the one in the story of the general in the Bhagavad Gita who was both a Brahman, for whom violence was forbidden, and a military leader.)  Mercenary work is acceptable but carries the same stigma, wherein it is not as honorable as protecting one’s homeland.

A contradiction in the Church exists since, in the 1920’s, the Church received a great influx of cash from one of its practitioners who had inherited a fortune from his family’s corporate profits. Unfortunately, most inner-power polytheist faiths have had trouble surviving into the twenty-first century without a similar influx of cash, and it is accepted as part of the nature of worldly life.

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Show Notes for Episodes 3, 4 and 5

In my humble opinion, Episodes 3 and 4 are when The Mask of Inanna really starts.  The characters are introduced and we can finally get on with the story, and the action!

(Note to self: Never include another action scene in an audio drama, ever. Dear god, they’re a lot of work to implement.)

So, bit of trivia #1 – Episodes 3 and 4 were originally going to be one episode. Until I started writing it, and I had to call up Neil. “Neil, I think this is going to be a two-parter.” That was an understatement.

I’ve never been to Hollywood. I did most of my research on Wikipedia and Google Maps. I wrote Allen’s narration while I was reading the articles, actually.  “Okay, so he’s got to go to Grauman’s… what would he say… ‘It’s more China than Chinatown.’ Seeing as he has no frikkin’ clue what Chinatown in the 50’s looks like, it beats whatever he imagines of it…” I included the reference to Pink’s restaurant, which is still there, since I needed a place Bob would deliberately avoid to keep up appearances.

I don’t really make this explicit – the Mammons are a deliberate pyramid scheme, but they understand the risks and benefits when they join. The newer initiates donate some of their youth to those who are higher up in the circle. This is one of the reasons Bob is looking old. I may or may not explain this later in the show. Basically, the Inannites have an outer circle (Scottie) who can do basic survival magic, and an inner circle who holds all the secrets and really insane stuff. The Mammons only have an inner circle, and their church is highly cliquish. They can interact with the “Great Machine” but that’s only because they have to sacrifice a huge portion of their self-identity to survive in the cut-throat greater clique. Inannites preserve their self-identity – revel and celebrate it – but they have the restrictions discussed in Episode 5. They can’t directly feed to the mass market – they can take its money but they can’t give the money back except through a proxy.

It’s all about survival in a post-industrialized world. All the various magical groups (the Artemises, the Odins, etc.) seek to preserve some sort of self-employed lifestyle within an increasingly homogenized, industrial culture. The Mammons use people to thrive while the Inannites  distance themselves.

Trivia for “I Was a Communist for the CIA“: this was my favorite of all the After Dark episodes to write. I listened to every single episode of “I Was A Communist for the FBI” and worked to give it absolutely no quarter while dismantling its core tenets. You can hear it on iTunes. This is what the media used to be before it had irony. I riffed on all of its main themes and catchphrases. If you read up on the real Matt Cvetic, he was a union-buster and a prick.

I was lucky enough to snag John Deschene and Kamela Dolinova from the musical 2010: Our Hideous Future. (Check its soundtrack out on iTunes! Julia Lunetta is in the show too.) Neal Leaheey also works with this same team in other projects.

So, Episode 5 is about Alzheimer’s syndrome. My mother used to stay with a cousin of her’s, Nancy Heath, in Milton when she taught at UMass JFK, and I came over there a few times. Nancy’s husband was one of these very jovial Boston Brahmans who loved the symphony and always seemed eager to shake a stranger’s hand. Then his Alzheimer’s condition started to worsen. He had to be taken to an institution. He would wake up having no idea where he was. He got frustrated and started to punch people. I think he died about a year after he started showing symptoms.

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Next Episode Scheduled for June

Hey guys! We’re taking a little break in the release schedule – and I want to emphasize that this is not a hiatus. Hiatus is a dirty, grubby, filthy word in audio drama and I won’t have it associated with The Mask of Inanna! The fact is, despite that you never hear my voice on air, this is primarily a one-woman show. I arrange for the recordings, direct the recordings, edit the recordings, hunt for  and buy the right SFX, etc. etc. yadda. And I’ve been doing other things too. It takes me about two months to put out a show at the level of quality you’ve come to expect, and it’s a significant amount of effort, considering I have a day job, too.

So, this co-called “break” is not a really a break at all, but an attempt for us to catch up and prepare for Season 2. Our actors are all doing other things too, and our recording space (a.k.a. the Sunday school in a church) has other groups coming in and can’t let us record on Sundays… needless to say, it’s a lot of work just to schedule time to record, let alone post-production. So we’re getting as much of Season 2 recorded as we can, to prevent any episodes being held up when its time to release them.

As you’ve heard, James Scheffler is heading out for active duty so we’re already recorded all his material for Season 2. If you listen to our trailer, you’ll hear him say a line from the Season 2 finale episode!

You can have faith in us that come hell or high water, you will get your bi-monthly dose of Inanna on time, every time!

I just need to… sit down for a while… maybe finish my game of Stacking

Alicia E. Goranson, Writer, Director, Producer, Editor, Everything But Voice Actor for the show

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The Mask of Inanna – Season 1, Episode 5 – The Mask of Inanna

In which the Speed Bump starts to destroy everything and the secret of After Dark is revealed.

This episode’s “After Dark” tale: “They Called Me Devil.”

This is the final episode for this season. Includes a special message from James Scheffler, actor for the role of Bob Stroud.

Size: ~68MB \ Running Time: 1:13:57

Alternative download link: here

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