Sunday, September 26, 2010

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED

Hi, for the last time from this locale.

Having been blogging here erratically since 2006 and having only 314 page views to show for it, I am relocating the blog to a more convenient place.

You can now find the blog at http://behindthetimes.superhumantimes.com/.

The new location places it under the same domain as the website, which makes it easier for me to manage both and, in the unlikely event anyone shows up to read about the show, easier to find. (I have no illusions of attracting a wider audience; I just want to fail in a more organized manner.)

I'm keeping this account active so that my prehistoric entries about the show, and the remembrances of my friends Robbie G., Jim C., Tucker, and Shalla, will be here for the curious. If there's a way to import them to the new blog, I might, but for now, this is fine.

Let me close by saying that this move should  not imply that I have any complaint with Blogger. I have enjoyed using it and, were I doing personal blogging only, would eagerly use it again. (Who knows? I still might.) I just heard the Daleks in my head chanting, "Con-so-li-date, Con-so-li-date," and they made sense.

Months of nothing, then two entries in one day, and one of 'em's the last one. Perhaps it's the start of a Renaissance. Or the end of one.

Either way, join me, won't you?

-- L.

Long Time, No Shows -- Razmig Likes Us!

Hi.

No, there are no new Times stories finished yet, but I wanted to make public an email which Prometheus Grand Poobah Steve Wilson forwarded to me on September 23. (Note: Any typos have been corrected, and references to specific stories clarified where necessary, by me.]


I just wanted to drop you a line and say that I have greatly enjoyed listening to SuperHuman Times. I have listened to all the episodes twice now. I have really enjoyed listening to them each and every single time. I really disliked the [alien] in “Close Encounters,” episode four. The actor portrayed him so brilliantly. The family dynamics in “Risk Management” was just so great. I found myself laughing at the byplay between mother and daughters. Until the very end, I honestly thought the book’s owner had somehow stolen it himself. Talk about an episode chalk full of surprises. I didn’t like ["Dashing"’s] Trevor Desmond until the very end when he made up for all his narcissistic ways by helping Chip out after Chip helped him. In episode five’s closing credits, Lance Woods said that there were two more episodes coming to close out season one. I hope that’s still true. I can’t wait to take a listen to those if that still is the case. Thanks again to you and your fellow Prometheans for the series.
Sincerely,
Razmig Der Torossian

Okay, okay. We'll keep at it. Thanks to Razmig, and to anyone else who's still with us, for hanging on this long. We'll do our best to make it worth the wait.

-- L.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Our Girl Shalla, 1996-2010

Hi.

Since I've shared the misadventures of our superhuman dog, Shalla, here in the past, I thought it appropriate to interrupt our regularly scheduled plugging (or non-plugging, as we have nothing to plug -- yet) for some sad news.

This evening, after watching her health decline rapidly in recent days, we said goodbye to our dear girl. She was 14.

Shalla was diagnosed with diabetes last fall. Since then, her state has varied from steady to shaky. During the last few days, she acted disoriented, wandering in and out of room after room on legs that were growing more unsteady by the day. Watching her struggle to pick herself up from a lie-down was painful. Tonight, when we came home, she lay on the living room floor, her breathing shallow, barely responsive to our calls. Cindy carried her out  as the three of us went to the car and up the street to the animal hospital. There, her regular vet checked her out and confirmed that a) she was dehydrated, which we suspected, despite having lots of water, b) she really wasn’t “with us” anymore, as we suspected from her behavior, and c) there was nothing else to do. We agreed; the tell-tale sign for us was that, for the first time in more than 11 years of vet visits, she wasn’t shaking all over.

When they brought Shalla in after prepping her, our 10-year-old son Greg said a tearful goodbye, as did we all, but couldn’t stay for The End, so Cindy took him outside (she would have stayed otherwise). He was very brave to stay that long, and we told him so. I remained for the procedure until she was gone, and thanked our vet and the staff for everything they’d done for Shalla and our other dog, Tucker, over the years. (I also told them that, eventually, we’d be back. I can’t imagine this house without a dog. Well, after I recover financially from this one.)

I cursed Shalla often for her many fights with Tucker, but I’m glad we didn’t get rid of her. When she was top dog around here, without “competition”, she was a sweetheart, and I’m glad we had a few years with just her around to experience that. It makes saying goodbye a lot harder, but that’s okay. It should be hard, even if it’s for the best.

Besides, if there’s a doggie heaven, you can bet Shalla has it all to herself. She'll be fine.

G’night, sweet pea. Sleep well.





Saturday, May 29, 2010

Coming Soon...

No kidding: A major announcement regarding the new Times stories, one I that I hope will surprise and amuse you.

Til then, thanks for hanging around.

-- L.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Two Years Later...

Hi.

Actually, it was two years ago on Monday that the last chapter of "Dashing" -- and, for the time being, of Times -- hit the web, but I was too busy with other things to mark the occasion until now.

Believe it or not, Steve Wilson and the Prometheus gang are still recording the new stories in between, you know, living and working, so I hope you'll hear them before the sun burns out.

And if they don't get 'em done soon, I'm gonna record them myself. All the parts. Even the women.

I'm not kidding.

Stay tuned. This may get even more interesting. Hell, how can it not?

-- L.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Exiting 2009

Hi.

Well, so much for keeping this on a weekly basis. I tried but the holidays got the better of me, and, frankly, there hasn't been anything new to report. More than a year after the last story aired (a year and a half now, I think), there are still no new SuperHuman Times stories online.

They're still in production -- really! -- but Prometheus leader Steve Wilson has had other things demanding his attention, all of which are legitimate. Still, it's been pretty demoralizing writing about what must seem to the outside world like a non-existent "product".

However, people have continued to ask me about the new stuff, and if I have one thing to be grateful for in 2009, that's it. So in gratitude, I thank all of you for your ongoing interest. It keeps me from pulling the plug on this enterprise, which I've wanted to do MANY times in the last 18 months. I truly hope what we TRY to get online in 2010 won't disappoint you.

For now, though, enjoy your countdowns to 2010, as well as the year that follows. And thanks again.

-- L.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dinosaurs (Me and Some Others)


Hi.

What did you do on your Halloween morning? I put on a suit and ran around a park with dinosaurs in pursuit of a new Facebook profile/SuperHuman Times publicity pic.



Okay, some particulars: the shots were taken in Dinosaur Land, a nifty little park 2 hours out of Baltimore in Virginia’s gorgeous Shenandoah Valley. (I used to travel through the area when appearing at Rovacon with the Boogie Knights, but that was long ago and far away. Thankfully, it’s still much prettier in the fall than I am year-round.) This is a small park with only one key attraction: more than 40 life-sized (more or less) papier-mâché dinosaurs and a few monsters (giant octopus, giant cobra, King Kong, and others). Greg, our 9-year-old, loves dinos, and we waited through three weeks of bad weather for a Saturday that was right for taking him, and Halloween was it.

Unnecessary Legal Note (which I add because I’m a decent guy): The fact that we shot these pics unaccosted at Dinosaur Land does not constitute the park’s endorsement of SuperHuman Times. It just means that we were the first people in the park that morning and were able to get away with this.



After exposing Greg to such things as the Dinosaur ride at Disney World, and other sophisticated Audio-Animatronic attractions,
we weren’t sure how much he’d enjoy something so kitschy.

 













But he loved it, as you can see.





So, other than entertaining our son, why did I put my long-suffering wife -- who took those shots, by the way; thanks, Cindy -- through the embarrassment of playing dress-up? Simply, I wanted something a little more, how shall I say it, “me” than the “Bond shot” I’ve been using everywhere, including here. Not that anyone was ever fooled into thinking I was sophisticated and urbane. I just wanted to try a different direction .


Less 007, more CIA.

I refer, of course, to James’s US counterpart, Felix Leiter, specifically as portrayed by Cec Linder in my favorite Bond flick, Goldfinger. Of course, this Felix is renowned for being the most obvious Company operative in movie history, but I'll take him over the cipher who played him in The Living Daylights anytime. (And there's no way I could pull off the 2 cool Felixes, Jeffrey Wright and David Hedison. "Obvious" I can do.)




I was also influenced to some extent by Mark “Deep Throat” Felt, the FBI agent who helped Woodward & Bernstein bring down the Nixon administration. Isn’t this a great shot? It’s on the cover of his book.

I had a retro-looking suit already, but even in this era when Mad Men has made ‘60s-era clothes hep again, it was hard finding a snap-brim hat in the color I wanted. And while these pics may make the rig look a little more like Kolchak than Leiter, they’re enough to make someone wonder, “WTF is that about?” And maybe check out the show. I just hope they won’t be too disappointed when dinos don’t show up.

Of course, by the time the new stories are ready – they’re still in the studio, along with several other Prometheus Radio Theatre projects -- dinos may evolve back into existence. By then, I may be out of what is clearly turning into a pretty sad, delusional midlife.

Thanks for your patience, with me and with the wait for the new episodes.

-- L.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Behind the Times: Why Bother? Blame Elliott Lewis.


Hi.

First, let me apologize for my absence last week. I wasn’t felled by the flu, swinish or otherwise, nor was I writing new scripts, because I’ve resolved not to start another run of Times until the current new stories are done. I simply had nothing new to blog about. The new Times episodes are still in the studio, and I’m still waiting to hear them, just like you are.

Well, maybe not like you. I’ve got a little more invested in them. And while I’m looking forward to their eventual premieres, I have to tell you, I’ve been a little disheartened of late by the wait. And that there’s no way to tell if anyone has discovered the show through our earlier episodes. And that this blog seems to be an exercise in vanity (then, again, what blog isn’t?) rather than a useful promotional tool, judging by the number of responses my teasers on Wizard Universe and Newsarama have/haven't been generating.

As much as I love writing these podcasts, and writing about them, I actually found myself wondering, “Why bother?”

And this week, I was reminded of a reason.

This shouldn’t surprise you, but I listen to Sirius/XM’s Radio Classics channel quite a bit, sometimes for pure entertainment (Jack Benny is STILL The God of Comedy) and sometimes to listen to how they created dramatic shows back in the Golden Age; you know, for pointers. One of the biggest names in radio at that time was Elliott Lewis – producer, director, actor, he did damn near everything, and he did it beautifully. If you ever get a chance, check out his work as a director/actor on Suspense, or as Frankie Remley on the Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. Two totally different venues; he excelled in both. (Frankie will make you weep.)

So, that was back in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Jump forward to the ‘80s, specifically 1984. I was not long out of college with aspirations of starting a scriptwriting career. (Stop laughing; you had dreams of grandeur once, too!) At the same time, a friend of mine wanted to go into business as a literary agent and asked if she could represent me. What the hell? Sure! So, I gave her a script for a show I knew was open to agented submissions, a show that remains one of my favorites to this day: Remington Steele.

Quick aside here: If you’ve listened to the Times story “Dashing”, you may already know that Steele played a big role in its development. But I had no idea how much of an impact this show really had on Times until… okay, back to the ‘80s.

Anyway, my friend submitted my script to MTM, the producers of Steele, and in a few weeks, she received it back with a letter, which I share with you here. (I’ve blocked her name out to protect her privacy, and to spare her the embarrassment of being identified as “Mister”. And I apologize for the scan quality. She kept the original; this is from a photocopy.)

Another quick aside: the story I submitted involved Steele’s shady past and an old mentor. I had no idea that they were going to bring in Efrem Zimbalist Jr. to play his mentor later that season, in a story that was nothing like mine, so no chance for a plagiarism lawsuit. ANYWAY…

When I read the rejection letter, I was only a little disappointed. I didn't even care about the misplaced apostrophe in my name. That last sentence -- complimenting the writing and the plotting with the encouragement to boot – really made me feel good. Like I might actually have a chance in this racket.

See who wrote it? Remington Steele’s Executive Story Consultant -- Elliott Lewis.

As it turned out, my friend and I ended up having a falling-out some time later, so there were no more submissions to Steele. Or, for that matter, to many other professional venues. What can I say? Video store-clerking, television ratings administrative fun, and the glamorous world of comic-book distribution & marketing were calling. And they paid.

Fast-forward to (finally) the 21st Century. Imagine me listening to Radio Classics for the first time while developing Times and hearing Elliott Lewis’s name, his performances, his credits, his reputation…and then realizing that this was the pro who liked my writing back in 1984. And the fact that he was a radio star of the first magnitude makes it even more special when I think of it today.

I wish Elliott Lewis hadn’t died in 1990. I would have enjoyed meeting him, showing him that letter, telling him about what we’re trying to do with Times, and thanking him. Since I can’t do that, I’ll thank you for bearing with me through this appreciation, and through the long wait for new Times.

In the meantime, if you have Radio Classics on Sirius or XM, listen to the master for yourself, or buy some of his work, and much more, here. You listen to those while we work on ours, which won’t be as good as anything Lewis did… but we’re trying.

-- L.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Music Behind the Madness



Hi.

Well, not much news this week. SuperHuman Times is still being recorded, and other Prometheus projects are in the works, too. (You can hear all about it from Promethean God Steve Wilson in his update, posted just days ago here.)

In the meantime, I am bracing for the inevitable call from Steve asking me if I’ve chosen the stock music for whatever the first Times show will be. It’s an interesting arrangement we have. He directs the actors, but lets me choose the music for each episode. Most of the time, he goes with my picks, because he knows I’m a nut for movie soundtracks and understand how pieces can be used to complement dialogue and establish mood. It’s pretty challenging, but it’s usually fun, and we’ve experienced some great results with the Times shows. So, this week, I thought I’d pay a little homage to our various musical sources, not just for SuperHuman Times, but also for other Prometheus shows, because -- speaking as a listener -- the music in those has been pretty impressive, too.

We use two basic types of music: original compositions and royalty-free stock music. Times is almost exclusively scored with stock music, but The Arbiter Chronicles and many other Prometheus programs are scored with original material.

On the original side of the street, the work of two composers has been prevalent:

Scott Farquhar, a friend for many years, is one of the most gifted composers and teachers I know. He wrote many of the pieces heard in Prometheus’ shows from (I believe) the first Arbiter episode up to the most recent season finale. He is also an accomplished local stage actor and has played numerous roles in Prometheus show, from midshipman Carson on Arbiter to two great heels in Times – billionaire Everett Mackenzie in “Risk Management” and spoiled actor Trevor Desmond in “Dashing”. Scott has moved beyond Prometheus to other musical enterprises in the past year, but we’re still pals, and I don’t think he’ll mind if I tell you that you can find out more about him and his music here. I suggest you do so.

• The other composer Prometheus works with is a gentleman Steve discovered online named Kevin Macleod. I know nothing about Kevin personally, but I know that I like his music. A lot! It’s solid material that fits every mood you could want to evoke, and he charges relatively little for his services (but if you use any of his work, be generous). Check him out here, or listen to his music during episodes 2-6 of the Arbiter finale, “Contents Under Pressure” . (If you want to hear some of Scott Farquhar’s parting music, and hear the entire story, start here.)

As for the stock music, we (I) have been using two key sources for scoring Times:

Elite Video’s Movie Mania – Not bad for a bunch of tunes conjured by a synthesizer (as all of these are, to be fair). They cover virtually every scoring need and have the dubious distinction of being the collection that provides the theme to SuperHuman Times. Expensive, like most pro royalty-free stock, but worth it.

DownloadRoyaltyFreeMusic.org – Another great place to get a wide variety of tunes. It may not look like much, having just recently consolidated its numerous packages into one convenient “box set” (127 CDs worth of cues in one place for $75 – not bad). They also have occasional specials where you can download selected sub-collections at low prices. I’ve bought several of their collections this way and I recommend them highly, especially the Cinema Magic series, which had great action cues for “Dashing”

So that’s our orchestra, to date. Bear in mind that we are a troupe of limited resources (read: we have real jobs, real salaries, and real expenses to deal with before we get around to making these things), so don’t be surprised if you recognize a specific piece of music from one episode/series to another. It’s a grand old tradition that dates back to radio’s earliest days. Who are we to deny that?

You’ll be hearing more of this music with dialogue very soon. Promise. Please stay tuned. Thanks!

-- L.