Thursday, December 31, 2009
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.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
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.
Friday, October 23, 2009
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.)
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.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
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!
Friday, October 2, 2009
Hi. Settle in; this is a long one, but the subject deserves the attention.
Fifty years ago on this date, Rod Serling led TV viewers into the Twilight Zone for the very first time.
Unlocking the door to that realm wasn’t easy, even with his formidable key of imagination. The odds were against the show succeeding beyond its first season. (These days, it would be canned after two weeks much less 26.) Even with Serling’s Emmy Award-winning reputation for creating some of TV’s finest hours, CBS, the network, the public – they just didn’t quite get what he wanted to do. Then, Serling’s “The Time Element” was broadcast as part of Desilu Playhouse. It could been a TZ story. The audience response to it was highly positive, and that helped Serling open the door to five years of wonder (and, for him, brain-breaking work writing most of the show’s stories and overseeing the whole universe).
Anyway, there was a great interview between Serling and Mike Wallace from the night before TZ premiered. Bear in mind that, at this point, Serling had written some of the greatest teleplays in what would become The Golden Age of Television. He was considered an "artist". (Many TV writers were at the time; times change, huh?)
The full text is transcribed at RodSerling.com, and you can actually see it on the TZ DVD box sets, but I want to share these particular excerpts:
Rod Serling: ... I presume Herb means that inherently you cannot be commercial and artistic. You cannot be commercial and quality. You cannot be commercial concurrent with, have a preoccupation with the level of storytelling that you want to achieve. And this I have to reject. ... I don't think calling something commercial tags it with a kind of an odious suggestion that it stinks, that it's something raunchy to be ashamed of. ... The essence of my argument, Mike, is that as long as you are not ashamed of anything you write if you're a writer, as long as you're not ashamed of anything you perform if you're an actor, and I'm not ashamed of doing a television series. ... I think innate in what Herb says is the suggestion made by many people that you can't have public acceptance and still be artistic. And, as I said, I have to reject that.
In doing so, he didn’t just raise the bar; he created an altogether different one that others would try – are STILL trying -- to reach. Very few have. Even Serling missed it a few times with some clunkers. (“Cavendish is Coming”, anyone?) But he believed in what he was doing, he didn’t underestimate the intelligence of his audience, and he had their respect and affection right up to his sudden death in 1975. TZ earned him a decent five-year run and, although he didn’t know it at the time, one of the highest pedestals in pop culture history.
But most relevant to our discussion here: Rod Serling inspired boobs like me to create and share their own pocket universes with a mass audience on the Internet. Well, I know my audience doesn’t have much mass, but I still don’t underestimate your intelligence. (Especially if you actually listen to the show.)
I’ll close with a Serling closing from my all-time favorite TZ, “Walking Distance”. Whenever Martin Sloan goes back to the Homewood of his youth, I go back to the Wildwood, NJ, of mine -- and I still can't read this without choking up.
“Martin Sloan, age thirty-six, vice-president in charge of media. Successful in most things but not in the one effort that all men try at some time in their lives—trying to go home again. And also like all men perhaps there'll be an occasion, maybe a summer night sometime, when he'll look up from what he's doing and listen to the distant music of a calliope, and hear the voices and the laughter of the people and the places of his past. And perhaps across his mind there'll flit a little errant wish, that a man might not have to become old, never outgrow the parks and the merry-go-rounds of his youth. And he'll smile then too because he'll know it is just an errant wish, some wisp of memory not too important really, some laughing ghosts that cross a man's mind, that are a part of the Twilight Zone.”
This may be the first thing I ever heard on TV that made me say to myself, “I wish I’d written that.”
I still do.
Thanks, Rod. I won't even come close to "Walking Distance", but I’ll keep walking anyway. I'm enjoying the trip too much to stop now.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
I’m pleased to announce that recording has begun on the latest run of SuperHuman Times scripts!
I feel as if I should follow this announcement with something Dave Barry often wrote when relating unbelievable tales: “WE ARE NOT MAKING THIS UP!”
I got this happy news last night from show director/Prometheus Radio Theatre brain trust Steve Wilson. He’s going about the recording process in a very systematic way. See, in addition to the six Times scripts, he has a host of others (including the remaining chapters of his audiobook, Peace Lord of the Red Planet) that need to be recorded. So, rather than assembling the cast of each and recording each script whole-cloth , he’s calling in individual members of our company – and, where dramatically necessary, small groups – and recording only their parts. Kinda like the way animated cartoon voices are recorded, but without the benefits of Paul Frees, Mel Blanc, and June Foray.
This may not seem like a big deal to you, but when you consider that all of us are doing this stuff in our spare time and have to be corralled into the studio according to our real-world schedules… well, it’s a minor Herculean feat. I bow to Mr. Wilson for pulling it off (even as the view count from my Wizard Universe “Pimp My Stuff” post about his interview continues to climb… I suspect shenanigans, but I’d like to think the interview is encouraging people to check out Times and Prometheus’ other offerings).
After recording all of us (yep, that means I’m on the mike for one story), he’ll edit everything together. Well, he and his brave producer/my dedicated wife. Since she won’t notice, I’m already making plans to be out of the house during her editing periods, depending upon how frustrated the tech demands of my scripts make her. I may take our son along, or at least our dog. We’ll try to return for the holidays.
With luck, SuperHuman Times will return by then, too.
Right now, I’m satisfied… and trying desperately not to start plotting the next round of scripts.
Thanks for reading, listening, and waiting.
Friday, September 18, 2009
So, every week after posting the latest news and wit-drenched insights about SuperHuman Times here, I always hit the Pimp My Stuff message board at wizarduniverse.com to promote it. It's a well-traveled forum run by the good folks at Wizard Entertainment, the brains behind Wizard and ToyFare magazines, as well as the Wizard World Comic-Cons. It's a lively place, and since it's got the only comic fan-centric board with a forum where you can promote damn near anything, I figure it's perfect for promoting Times to an audience I'd really like to reach.
I don't know if the show's garnered any listeners from this, but the postings have been getting noticed. The first one, from May 2008 -- when "Dashing" began; can you remember back that far? -- has been viewed 155 times to date. But that's over a two-year period, so that's an average of, charitably, one per week, so it's not that impressive. But I'm gratified by the fact that 155 people have taken the time to check it out.
Now, a more recent one, from September 4 of this year, has been viewed 40 times in two weeks. Okay, that's nice. About three views per day. Again, gratifying that my latest ravings have attracted some attention.
But now I'm just baffled...
Last week's posting -- which promoted the fact that I would not be posting so that I could hawk Prometheus poobah/Times director Steve Wilson's interview on The Blowhard Experiment -- has generated more than 60 views in one week.
Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful to everyone who's been checking out the plugs. I just hope they've clicked through to the blog and, more importantly, to the podcasts. And I'm not jealous of what may be implied as Steve's appeal versus my own... on my own blog, MY OWN BLOG.
No, really, I'm fine.
It just reminds me of a time when Steve and I entered separately into a national screenwriting competition without realizing it. I made it to the quarterfinals before I was eliminated. I mentioned this to Steve months later... and he told me he'd made it one step farther to the semifinals before he, too was eliminated. And it's been that way between us ever since. He always ends up one step ahead of me. I'm used to it.
But come on, when a plug for a blog entry where I write very little (and Steve talks a lot) gets, on average, one of the highest responses to date, ya gotta wonder if I should just knock this off.
Then I remember that first 155. And the 40 from last week. And all the others from the Steve-less weeks inbetween. And you're mine, all mine! (Cue villainous laugh, because these entries should always have something to do with SuperHuman Times, which has, you know, villains as well as heroes. I'll stop reaching now.)
Someone's reading. Hopefully, someone's listening.
If it's you, on either count or both, thanks a lot.
Monday, September 14, 2009
With your permission, I'm going to forego my usual weekly post this go-round for a few reasons:
1) I don't have a lot to write about this week because we still have no new shows;
2) Today is my birthday, so I feel like relaxing a little; and
3) I'd rather let Prometheus Radio Theatre's own big cheese, Steve Wilson, do the talking in this online interview recorded last week on The Blowhard Experiment. (I kid you not.)
To be frank, Steve doesn't plug SuperHuman Times in the interview (that's why I do this stuff instead of him, and I AM available for interviews... uh-huh, I figured you'd say that), but if you want a better idea of what Prometheus is about, check it out if you have an hour to waste.
Uh, that is, kill.
Uh, I mean become informed. And enlightened.
Then go relive some old Times. I would consider it a wonderful birthday gift if you did.
Thanks for listening.
Friday, September 4, 2009
I thought about taking the holiday weekend off from blogging, mainly because I still have nothing to report on the Times front. But my discipline (or arrogance) deludes me into thinking that someone would notice if I didn’t show up this week, so here I am.
At this writing, Prometheus is taking a month off from ‘casting to get some new stuff in the can, presumably including the six new Times scripts. In the meantime, I’m still tweaking the website, which is still a modest web page.
For the Extras on what will be the Podcasts Plus page, I’m considering adding a Times glossary of characters, locations, and key events thus far as a downloadable PDF. I figure it’ll generate one of two responses from anyone who happens across it:
One, “Wow, this guy’s really created a neat little universe here. I should listen to the stories and check it out.”
Or, more likely, “This f*****’s delusional.”
If nothing else, a glossary would act as an ongoing series bible that I could refer to from time to time when I need to figure out when a story should occur in the overall history of the series. Yes, there’s a beginning and an ending to all of this. (I revealed how it all ends in the ’06 interview I had about the show with Steve Wilson before “True North” aired. Feel free to listen to it here if you can’t bear the suspense.) The podcasts make up the juicy center. At least, I hope you find it juicy. Well, entertaining.
Back to the glossary idea. One reason I hesitate to put it together is because it’d be just words. True, this is a medium where you are supposed to supply the images to this audio comic-book of ours, but for a faux-print publication it would be fun to see how folks with artistic talent would interpret characters and scenes. If I had the money, I’d try to commission some comics pros to listen to an episode or two and render some key players. I'd love to pay someone like Phil Noto to draw a Dash Tarragon-style movie poster for "Dashing", or Thomas Boatwright to depict Knuckles Macnee from "Servant Problem", and I know of several artists I'd love to see draw Nataliya Tzone. That might grab the attention of comic readers, an audience I'd love to expand.
Alas, home ownership, child-rearing, and the reality that they'd be too busy to do it make that kind of thing impossible. Maybe Greg will study art in college and draw stuff for me in exchange for his tuition. By that time, the new stories should hit the web. If you’re still alive, let me know if you think they were worth the wait.
Have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend. And if you like the idea of a glossary, let me know here or via email.
Friday, August 28, 2009
I’m pleased to report that, shortly after last week’s entry here, Prometheus' grand poobah, Steve Wilson, emailed me his casting picks for the next season of SuperHuman Times. Nobody’s been officially asked if they'll do it yet, but no one’s turned him down, so that’s a good sign. Right?
“Excited” doesn’t begin to describe how I felt when I read his choices. Over the years, I have considered my scripts to be a foundation upon which the directors and casts put up the walls and décor with their suggestions and performances. (One cast completely reworked the ending of one of my plays and it was much better as a result.) I’ve found this to be much healthier than getting all artsy and possessive about the damn stories. Anyway, assuming everyone wants to play this season, it should be a lot of fun. Some folks who usually assay supporting roles in shows like The Arbiter Chronicles will get a shot at leads, and we’ll have some Prometheus actors who have never done Times before. I hope they’ll have fun recording it, and I hope you’ll find their work fun to hear.
This season should be especially challenging for the actors because I went out of my way to write scripts that don’t necessarily take place in America or have American characters. One script, “No Good Deed”, is set in England and has all English and German characters. Another, “Flight Risk”, has a central character in Arizona who’s a transplanted Iranian. How come? The Times Universe (Microverse?) was just getting kind of homogenous (Nataliya Tzone’s Roma heritage aside) and I wanted to tell stories of people with different backgrounds. I’m sure the actors will just love me for that when they try to deliver the required accents to Steve’s satisfaction. (He’s directing again, thank God.)
And I have been drafted for a supporting role in one of the stories, “Print the Legend” -- the two-parter based on “The Hot Property”, the graphic novel script that started me down this lonely road. I won’t say anymore about my part right now, but if you recall Paul Frees’s voice for The Thing in the old Fantastic Four cartoons, that’s the kind of voice I’ll be going for. (You’ll guess who I’m playing if you read the GN script, I guarantee it.)
And while all that’s going on, I’m renovating the Times website. Again. I’ll probably wait until next week to relaunch it so I have something to write about here. Til then, thanks for listening, and reading.
PS: While you’re waiting for Times, be sure to stop by the Prometheus site and listen to Steve Wilson’s readings of his fiction. His latest one, Peace Lord of the Red Planet, is underway now. To me, it has the flavor of the John Carter of Mars stories and a Twilight Zone episode called “Execution”, in that both have men getting plucked out of their time, as does this. But despite that similarity, this is clearly in Steve’s voice (written and audible) and, like his other works, is filled with fascinating characters and plenty of (sometimes political) ideas you may or may not agree with (to paraphrase from Frasier, “He’s a Libertarian; we’ve decided to find it charming”), but he expresses them in an entertaining way that even a bleeding heart liberal like me can enjoy the story.
Okay, Steve, there’s your unsolicited plug, now where’s my show?
Friday, August 21, 2009
What can I say? Still no word on when the next run of SuperHuman Times episodes will begin. I guess this is a good thing in that, rather than being a “summer replacement”, we’re being moved up to the regular “fall premiere” line-up. At least, that's what I'm assuming... we'll stay hopeful for the purpose of our discussion.
Remember before cable and FiOS – I can see 2/3 of the people reading this already heading for the door with a click and a groan – when the fall was a big deal for TV watchers? When the then-big three would roll out their new shows with lots of fanfare all summer long, and TV Guide would be as big as a digest-sized phone book? And the big fall preview specials with the stars touting the new shows? And the jingles?
Some from the '60s and '70s are still running through my head – “This fall, NBC has it all.” “This is the place to be, on ABC.” Strange that I can’t think of any from CBS, and we watched it a lot, too.
As an aside, to the surprise of everyone who’s ever known me, of all the fall season hype I watched as a kid, I NEVER saw THIS one until today, and I can't think of a more appropriate place to show it, seeing as it influenced me to write stuff like Times:
If the DVDs of this series ever come out in my lifetime, this BETTER be included. Now back to my show…
Most of the shows the networks debuted in September were gone the next year (not after two episodes, as is the case these days), but after three months of reruns, you were ready for ANY new stuff. We don’t have that kind of desperation now, thanks to the proliferation of cable channels and on-demand technology. There just isn't that much electricity in the fall generated between TV networks and their audiences. I miss that, but only a little.
Just because I’m a little nostalgic, I'm not complaining. TV overall is much better now in terms of variety and programming (scripted, not reality). I love being able to watch Penn & Teller: Bullshit during the summer and Dexter at my leisure. Still, the fall was, for kids in my era, a special time, when the drudgery of going back to school was offset by the new season.
So forgive me if I’m not terribly disappointed that Prometheus didn’t get around to putting Times on over the summer. As far as my deluded little mind goes, it's part of the new fall season now, and that’s exciting. For me, anyway. Hope you’ll think so, too.
(If not, I’ll talk Steve Wilson into dressing up as Robin while I dress as Batman and we’ll make a video introducing the year’s podcast line-up. That’ll get you excited. If you’re a shut-in.)
Friday, August 14, 2009
Still no news to report vis a vis when we'll be hearing new SuperHuman Times episodes. Believe me, if anyone were reading this blog, I'd be just as eager to hear the new stuff as you are. It's no secret that one of my semi-flexible laws is to never be in the Prometheus studio when Steve Wilson records an episode (unless I'm in it), so I usually don't hear the final product until just before it's posted. I'm especially curious to hear how the two Dunbar episodes turn out -- and who ends up playing him -- seeing as he was the first Times character. I'll keep you posted as things develop.
In the meantime, I'm mulling over attending a unique fan show in the Baltimore area, specifically Aberdeen. The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention will be held there in two weeks, and they have a pretty good line-up of older actors whose TV shows and movies I grew up on. We're talking actors like Lee Meriwether (Time Tunnel, the '66 Batman movie, Barnaby Jones), Celeste Holm (All About Eve and countless other classics), and Johnny Whitaker (Family Affair, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters).
But my main reason for going would be to meet one of my favorite character actors, Bob Hastings. If you're elderly (in your 40s) like me, you remember him from TV shows like McHale's Navy (where he played Lt. Carpenter opposite Joe Flynn's Capt. Binghamton), movies like The Poseidon Adventure (where he played the New Year's emcee -- I can hear you now, "Oh, yeah, THAT guy!"), soaps like General Hospital (I never watched it but I understand he was on there for a long time), and animated shows like the '90s Batman (where he voiced Commissioner Gordon). He also did quite a bit of radio during his career, including Archie Andrews (yep, based on the comic), X Minus One, and many others. That, plus the opportunity to see groups performing old radio scripts live, make this show a real temptation. If I go, I'll take photos and slap 'em up here.
I love character actors. Utility infielders like Hastings can always get work playing anything, yet when audiences see them, it's like seeing an old friend on stage or on the screen, one you know will turn in a good performance, even if the rest of the cast/production stinks. We have our share of those in Prometheus, actors who voice everything from superheroes to aliens. Their voices may always carry familiar elements in any incarnation, but you're glad to hear them. Listen to enough of The Arbiter Chronicles and you'll hear exactly what I mean. We have our share of Bob Hastingses, and I'm sure glad many of them are working on Times.
In closing, we move from radio to video, but it's comics-related, so the transition works: If you're into comics, you probably have a favorite comic shop staffed by a bunch of good folks who you think would make a great cast in a sitcom. Well, the folks at Zeus Comics in Dallas TX took that idea and ran with it. The result is their new web series, The Variants, and if you like comics, comic shops -- heck, if you just like a well-written, well-performed, and truly funny video series -- this is for you. They're clearly having a blast making it, which means you'll have a blast watching it. Can't wait to see the next episode!
Wonder if it'll get posted before the next Times does...
Friday, August 7, 2009
Well, preproduction on the next series of Times episodes continues. I think it’s a foregone conclusion that there will be no “summer” run, as I’d hoped. I never intended to lead you astray, and I hope you’ll forgive me and stay tuned when the episodes hit this fall.
Until then, I offer something that I hope will engage you: the very first SuperHuman Times script – for the SuperHuman Times graphic novel, "The Hot Property.". I’ve posted it on the Times web page, so you can download it as a PDF right here, right now.
There are three reasons behind my making this script available:
1) I want to have something legitimately Times-related “out here” while the shows are in production (branding, you see; it's a marketing thing);
2) all of the characters in the “The Hot Property” will appear in various episodes of the podcast in this run, and you may find it entertaining to compare the characters from the 2005 script to the way they’re portrayed in the new shows;
3) someday, if you get a kick out of this and let me know, I may post the Times radio scripts, too.
I think I mentioned this before, but if you're wondering why SuperHuman Times became a series of radio dramas instead of a series of graphic novels, the answer is easy: I can't draw. Used to, but can't anymore, even with a computer. Want proof?
The image at right would have been the cover to the "True North" online comic. It took me about a month to do in Adobe Illustrator and, as you can see, it's not a tough composition -- for an artist. If it took that long to do this, it would have taken me a few years to render Malvolio Nacht's attack. Thankfully, Steve Wilson offered me a spot in the Prometheus line-up, so this is all you'll see from my poison(ed) pen in terms of images. I'll leave those to your imagination. It draws faster and better than I ever will.
Enjoy reading "The Hot Property" – and, eventually, hearing the voices that came from it.
In Memoriam: The ‘80s were a special time for me. They were my 20s. In your 20s, all things are possible. You’re young enough to start pursuing your dreams (in my case, scriptwriting, which brought me here; so much for my 20s) and, even though you’re an adult, you haven’t been out of your teens that long, so you can sit through movies about teenagers and still empathize with the characters. That’s why I enjoyed John Hughes’s movies with young actors so much when they came out. I knew kids who acted and talked like they did. (We were a TV generation. Parents taught us how to talk; sitcoms taught us how to talk back.) Hughes’s kids were all believable on some level (even Ferris). That’s what made his movies so much fun to watch, and that’s why I wanted to mark his passing this week. Thanks for making my 20s a little more fun, John. Can’t wait to see if your movies do the same for my son 11 years from now.
Friday, July 31, 2009
While we all wait for the return of SuperHuman Times, I thought I might do something unusual.
Write. For the hell of it. Here.
If you've read past entries, you may already think I've been doing that -- talking about podcasts one minute and pets the next, that kind of thing. All over the map. But I think for the most part I've used this to push the show the way I wanted to.
The problem -- for me, anyway -- is the amount of time between entries. Makes me crazy when I visit someone's website or blog and discover that they haven't updated it after a couple of weeks/months/eons.
So I've made a late-year resolution: I'm going to try and post something here at least once a week. And to try and make it at least vaguely relevant to the show. Both will make me feel like I'm not wasting my time and yours.
Part of that will include maintaining the delusion that someone's out there reading all this stuff (and, more importantly, listening to the show). I know one or two friends have kept up with it, but it would be nice to get an audience of some kind for the series. I'm kicking around different promotional ideas to get the word out, ranging from program book ads at comic conventions ($$) to YouTube audio ads (free, but a tech challenge for me). But demands of the real world keep getting in the way.
Still, I look at some of my former work colleagues who have gone on to better things writing-wise -- despite their real-world obligations -- and wonder if it's too late, if I'll ever write anything good enough for anyone else to deem it worth reading/listening to...
Then I remember meeting the Apollo astronauts, and that a long time ago, we went to the Moon. And that anything is possible.
But since I stink at the science and math required to send people to the Moon (in addition to most sci/math), I'd better stick to writing.
For the hell of it.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
We interrupt the usual plugs to relate a not entirely unrelated story from real life.
As you know, this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Apollo was a big deal when I was growing up, not just because it was the pinnacle of the Space Age, but because my dad worked as a Purchasing Agent for Westinghouse Electronics at that time, contributing to a variety of government projects – including the camera that went with the lunar module Eagle and sent back the now historic (and now beautifully restored) video of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon. I still remember watching that event with my family, and how proud my mom and I were that Dad was able to play a role in history, even a tiny one. I’m pretty sure it was the highlight of his 41 years at Westinghouse.
So when the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum announced that Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins and Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean would be on hand there today to sign their new books, there was no way I was gonna miss it, and no way that Cindy would let me miss it. So we piled into the car, met my best pal and fellow Space Ager John Weber at the nearest Metro station (accompanied by the just-released Bill Conti soundtrack of The Right Stuff) and trained in to DC.
Just to give you a thumbnail of our itinerary, so you can fully appreciate what it took to get there on time for the signing (like you care):
8:45: Arrive at Air & Space.
10:00 Air & Space opens.
10:00-11:00: Stand in line, buy the astronauts’ books.
11:00-12:15: Stand in another line to get them signed.
12:15: As we get within one family away from the signing table, Buzz, Mike, and Alan decide to take their break.
12:16: I mutter something, then realize these guys are pushing 80 and shut up. 12:45: Buzz, Mike, and Alan return and we’re moving again and…
Briefly, it was wonderful. All three were as nice as anyone could be in a room teeming with literally thousands of admirers (what you can see at right is just at the table; the lines wound and stretched back to the main entrance hall).
And I accomplished my main objective: When I met Aldrin, I briefly recounted my father’s connection to his mission and told him something I’ve always wanted to tell the astronauts on that flight: Thank you for taking my dad to the moon with you.
Immediately, Aldrin says (and I’m paraphrasing), “Don’t tell Alan, but when he went up, he aimed that camera into the Sun.” If you know anything about ‘70s-era video tech, you know what that kind of move did to a video camera on Earth. Imagine doing it without the natural scrim of an atmosphere. Ow!
Okay, my story was good, but Aldrin’s was better!
I also told Michael Collins my dad’s story and also mentioned how nice it was to see him, because – although Neil Armstrong is notoriously spotlight-averse except for anniversaries like this one – we rarely see him that much either. I mean, he’s important! He’s the bus driver! So it was a real kick for me to meet him, and he clearly appreciated my enthusiasm, and everyone else’s.
I did not mention the camera incident to Alan Bean, but I did tell him how much I enjoyed his paintings, and what an honor it was to meet him. He was charming and gracious enough to extend his hand for a shake before I departed.
All in all, a pretty good day. Or, as John and I said while waiting on line, “We choose to stand in the line not because it is easy, but because it is hard.”
Now, to cap off the evening, I am, at this moment, watching the museum’s annual John Glenn Lecture – featuring Aldrin, Collins, and – damn him for not coming to the museum today – Armstrong and mission director Chris Kraft as this year’s speakers. It’s in the museum’s IMAX theatre, where they just screened the restored moonwalk footage. Oooooh, ahhhhhh!
So, what, if anything, does all this have to do with SuperHuman Times?
Well, let’s not get into the debate about politics vs. science, whether we ever needed to go to the Moon in the first place, whether we ever need to return to the Moon or on to Mars. The Apollo missions taught us something that everyone can value: all things are truly possible. And at this point in our nation's history, I think we need something to remind us of that.
Plus, it gives me hope that we’ll hear the new Times episodes very soon… even if it’s on the radios of our flying cars.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Well, there's an announcement about the coming Times episodes on Wizard World, and since I wrote it, it must be official. (And since the TOPIC LINE IS MISSPELLED, you can tell I'm pretty excited about this. Idiot.)
You can read it there, or below. Either way, rejoice and enjoy. And gaze upon the new logo (yes, ANOTHER one) while you're at it.
Prometheus Radio Theatre has announced that SuperHuman Times -- the anthology podcast series following the everyday lives of superhumans and humans -- will return for a new season this summer with five new stories, all of which can be downloaded for free from the Prometheus website or via free subscription to iTunes.
SuperHuman Times is named for a national magazine in a superhuman-filled, present-day Earth where, following the mysterious exile of the world’s deadliest supervillain from the planet and a resulting drop in super-crime, superhuman heroes and criminals are now trying to find new lives among the humans they once protected. Or threatened.
“The series returns following a very busy year for Prometheus Radio Theatre,” said SuperHuman Times creator/writer Lance Woods. “Prometheus followed last year’s Times run with the huge, six-part season finale to its flagship series, The Arbiter Chronicles, after which they took a long, much-needed rest. During that time, our listeners made it clear that they were eager for more Times tales. . As we head back into the studio rejuvenated, we hope that those listeners, and new listeners just discovering SuperHuman Times, will continue to enjoy what’s been called ‘The Coolest Comic Book You’ll Ever Hear.’”
The next season of SuperHuman Times includes:
● Once Upon a Times: SuperHuman Times reporter Kevin Dunbar is sent on an assignment to find an elusive superhuman his publisher encountered during his own reporting days – and ends up going back 40 years to uncover the surprising origins of his magazine.
● No Good Deed: A researcher who’s desperate to test his revolutionary serum on a human subject gets advice from an unexpected volunteer: a dying ex-supercriminal.
● Unfinished Business: Sorceress Nataliya Tzone and her gifted daughters Violeta and Nicoleta (introduced in the first-season story Risk Management) return for a tale in which an old family friend begs Nataliya to violate a personal code to help him contact the dead in order to perfect a flawed military weapon he created with her missing husband … and she refuses.
● Flight Risk: A retired superhuman flight instructor is recruited by the government to observe a student who’s suspected of being a potential assassin how to fly, but is forced to act when he inadvertently places the assassin’s intended target in even greater danger.
● Print the Legend: Dunbar's back for a two-part mystery-romance set at a comic-book convention, where he meets a beautiful artist who harbors an unusual family secret, helps a superhuman friend investigate a suspicious book deal, and becomes a murder suspect when a superhuman he wrote unflattering things about turns up dead.
Each episode will run approximately 30 minutes. Please note that the release order of these episodes is subject to change.
For more information and free podcasts:
For more information about SuperHuman Times:
Based in Elkridge, Maryland, PROMETHEUS RADIO THEATRE began performing radio drama at Science Fiction conventions in 2000. Its flagship series, THE ARBITER CHRONICLES — which follows the adventures of four young midshipmen and their shipmates in a space navy of the far future — has earned thousands of regular listeners via podcast and live performances (often with celebrity guest stars), and has sought to reach new audiences, the versatile troupe has earned an equally strong following for its ongoing series of folk tales. The troupe’s work has earned it the prestigious Mark Time Award Silver Medal in 2003 and the Parsec Award for Best Audio Drama (Long Form) in 2007.
LANCE WOODS has been writing since age 5 and won’t stop. He has had two comedy-thrillers — “Breeding Will Tell” and “Murder Case” — successfully produced by the Baltimore Playwrights Festival, and has written & directed numerous stage shows for the Cheap Treks comedy troupe. He counts Neil Simon, William Goldman, James L. Brooks, and Rod Serling among his writing heroes. He, his wife, and young son live in a situation comedy format outside of Baltimore. SuperHuman Times © & ™ by Lance Woods. All Rights Reserved. Audio Productions © & ™ by Prometheus Radio Theatre. All Rights Reserved.