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Better Radio Writing Submission Guidelines

Hello Friends,

We are currently hard at work on a new season of Better Radio, a scripted sketch comedy podcast by Rob Schultz and Russell Anderson, and writing submissions are now open.

What’s the show about?

In the distant future, an Archeo-Astronomer travels the stars listening to transmissions broadcast from Earth, researching where exactly things went wrong for our planet.

Each transmission (re: sketch) needs to work in audio only. This is not necessarily the same thing as having no visual component - this might be your chance to do things you could never bring to life on stage, or in video.

All scenes must necessarily take place after 1935. Anything we hear that takes place earlier or is supernatural in some way must, logically, be part of some other piece of media. (We don't need your framing device explained to the audience, but knowing that you're in fact writing a sitcom, or a monster movie, or a broadway cast recording, may unlock something for you.)

How do I submit?

Send your script to BetterRadio at NotArt.org by or before Bastille Day, 2018!

.highland documents and .PDF files are our top choices of file formats. 

Please name your file NAME-OF-SKETCH_YOUR-NAME.file

What do we like?

We strongly prefer the conceptual over the topical. Self-contained ideas over reference-fests. Parody is a coin toss.

We like character monologues that we can build into scenes with interesting sound design.

The opportunity to do a cross-over or side story featuring your existing characters from a different project is something we’re very interested in. If your script or pitch falls into this category, please do send a link to the other show.

We like scenes that happen to be set in other decades for flavor. Remember, the show is set in the distant future. It’s weird and sad if all the scenes are about the news of 2018.

Feel free to go beyond the stock 5 settings for an SNL scene. We’ve done film noir, fake commercials, radio call-in shows, game shows, press conferences, and indeed, old-time radio drama. Remember that we have all of audio-visual recording history available as a playground.

The rules

Individual writers and sketch teams are both welcome to apply. Non-exclusive submissions are okay - that scene in your drawer from six months ago is welcome as long as it’s well- suited to radio.

Time and space are finite and not all submissions will be recorded. If yours is not selected, it’s probably not personal.

If we do select your scene for recording, we offer a writing credit on our program in exchange for the non-exclusive right to produce your scene and to publish the script. (You still own your work and may use it in other ways.) We may edit your script.

We will contact writers about submissions we would like to use by or before early August, which is when recording will begin.  The new season will air in October, and be accompanied by a live taping at The Pack Theater in Hollywood on September 29.

Reference

To hear what we’ve done before, visit the show on iTunes at http://tinyurl.com/betterradio or Overcast at https://Overcast.fm/itunes320972864/better-radio or just stuff this in your podcatcher: http://feeds.feedburner.com/BetterRadio

Please direct your submissions to BetterRadio at notArt.org, and feel free to forward this to your writerly friends.

Your pals,
Rob Schultz &
Russell August Anderson

Lonely Point Lighthouse

*

Langston Hicks bounded back down the stairs of the dilapidated lighthouse. The stairs creaked underfoot. The rain battered against the walls and wind whistled over the rough holes in the roof. The boiler in the basement struggled to coax steam through pipes in the walls that rattled in protest, having retired decades ago. Even the walls themselves seemed to be moaning, long and low. When Langston's entire extended family (God rest their souls) gathered under one roof in the summer time, their house wasn't this noisy.

Langston rounded the bottom of the staircase on the first floor, and swung his lantern broadly in front of him. He was reasonably sure that everyone else was upstairs, but he didn't need to take any foolish chances, didn't need to risk embarrassing himself again in front of his bosses. For a pair of old timers, Ms. Zola and Mr. Hull didn't ask for much. It was that young photographer that had Langston worried, the way he was always waving that gun around. But Kline was definitely upstairs. With the body.

*

Cropsey Hull paced and muttered. "It just doesn't make sense," he said. He cast a long shadow over the wedding photo leaning against the wall of the upstairs bedroom. "Viv, how does this timeline make sense?"

Vivienne Zola sat at a small writing desk in a corner of the room. Another horrible moan came from the walls of the house and she grimaced. On the desk sat numerous crumpled scraps of paper and waterlogged books. She held one near her lantern and picked through it gingerly.  "Well I'm sure I don't know how it makes sense, but it has to. We just can't see all the pieces."

"Maybe there's something in there that I missed," said Hull. "Mr. Kline, come out of there. I want to check the room again."

*

Langston moved from room to room on the first floor, playing his lantern along the walls with one hand, and turning over a small stone in his other. Someone had carved a star into the stone. A star with a lick of flame like a candle light, right in the middle. He was sure he'd seen something like that down here before. He was just going to put the stone back where it belonged and everything was going to calm down. Something was amiss, and the house was upset. 

Nonsense was what Ms. Zola would call it. She always told Langston the first step to explaining these "haunted houses" was understanding that they're just houses. Nothing's haunted, she said. But she didn't see the way that boulder on the beach exploded when they stood it upright four hours ago.  Maybe this whole island was what was angry.

*

Kennedy Kline stepped out of the hidden passage with a care that did not extend to the direction his shotgun was pointing. 

Hull gently pushed the end of the gun toward the ceiling.  "Let's not any of us get shot tonight, Mr. Kline," he said. 
Hull stepped through the ragged hole they'd made in the bricks.  He adjusted his lantern's mantle and worked it carefully around the room, counter-clockwise from the hole. More walls of empty unadorned brick. On the outside wall, dribbles of water down from the ceiling. And the cot. 

The cot itself was chained to the wall, and chained to the cot was the desiccated corpse in its wedding dress and tiara, just like the woman in the painting. The tiara was gleaming even in the faint light, shining in stark contrast to the rusty metal of the cot.

"It's gotta be her," said Kline. He was already back in the chamber, uncomfortably close for Hull.  "It's gotta be. There's only one way to end this."

"Kennedy, don't!"

*

Langston held his stone up to the doorframe in the kitchen.  An ornament over the door had a matching symbol. Just as the stones nearly touched together was he heard the shot from upstairs. He had to get back up there. 

As Langston turned back to the hall, the wall of the kitchen exploded into splinters behind him. His ears rang. He was on the ground.  One of his hands was bleeding and he wasn't sure which one. A man was coming at him through the scraps of timber and linoleum where there used to be a wall.

No, not a man. Too tall to be a man. (Nothing's haunted.) Too broad in the shoulders for a man. Too many teeth to be a man. (Nonsense!) Black eyes, impossibly wide set into pale, sallow skin. An impossible mouth (no such thing) with row after row of teeth. It was roaring as loud as any animal Langston had ever heard of, and he skittered backwards down the hall. (Nonsense!)

There had been a revolver in his belt. Still shoving the ground away, trying to put space between himself and the thing, Langston found time to check, found his hand wrapped around the revolver. Now at the end of the hall, he slid his back against the doorframe and got to his feet. He fired the gun, again and again, and a few of the rounds even hit the thing as it ducked under the doorway from the kitchen to the hall.

Bullets slapped into its hide and stayed put. 

*

Hull and Kline rounded the second floor landing, and saw a bloody Langston Hicks throw himself backwards into the foyer, frantically trying to reload his gun. Bullets slipped in between his bloody fingers.

Kline, taking the stairs two at a time, began to call out to Langston, but the words lost their shape in his mouth when his eyes traced the path from the end of Langston's gun to its target.

"Get back!" Langston shouted. It was unclear to Kline whether he was addressing his friends or the beast. Langston fired again at the monster, which stepped right past him towards the stairs, paying no mind to the gunfire.

As the monstrosity took its first steps onto the groaning staircase, Kennedy Kline let loose with a grin, a shout, and a shotgun.

*

Langston stared at the thing continuing up the stairs. Kline's shotgun blast had been as effective as his .22, or the kitchen's wall. He let his empty revolver fall to the floor from his hand.

Kline had apparently decided to retreat, Langston noticed. He pushed past Hull on the stairs, and disappeared down the hall.

Langston thought to himself, at least the moaning has stopped.


*

"Whatever is the matter, Mr. Kline?" asked Ms. Zola, working her way down the hall with the caution due the dark and wet floors by a septuagenarian. "What on God's green Earth are you shooting at now?"

"S-sh-sh-shark! Shark!" Kline shouted. There was no time to lose. He needed to get upstairs to the attic and fast.

Zola pursued him up the stairs. "What do you mean a shark? The water level hasn't gotten that high just yet."

*

Hull stood perfectly still at the top of the first flight of stairs. As the man-shark continued to climb the stairs Hull raised a small handgun from the pocket of his trench coat, took careful aim, and fired into the mouth of the beast. 

It threw its head back in another roar and when Hull fired another bullet into the roof of the enormous mouth, it seemed to Langston that the shark-man might just topple over backwards down the stairs. 

When the enormous mouth of the shark lurched forwards instead, across Hull's torso and then snapped shut, Hull thought it was a terribly, terribly brave way for the old reporter to have met his maker. It was a damned shame. Despite their minor differences, he'd been a pleasure to work with.

The man-shark too had disappeared down the hall on the second floor, well before Hull's head and legs had both settled at the bottom of the staircase.

*

When Vivienne Zola came back down from the third floor, returned to the master bedroom with its hidden passage, and discovered that the secret room itself was missing not only the cot but the wall the cot had been chained to, she considered it a minor miracle that the house itself was still standing.

It took a long time to convince Mr. Kline, still babbling about a shark, that the safest place for them was in fact in the basement where the furnace was, and not the attic on the third floor of a house missing several large portions of its walls, but that was simply less time she had to spend waiting for the morning to come and the storm to end.

It was a terrible business with Hull, her dear friend, but she'd been through war and she'd been through Panama and she'd get through this as well.

*

Prose based on Lonely Point Lighthouse by Oscar Rios
with David Kline as Kennedy Kline
Dane Anderson as Cropsey Hull
Russell August Anderson as Vivienne Zola
Martin Lastname and Sasha Huff as Langston Hicks
and Rob Schultz as the Keeper of Arcane Lore.

How many iPads can I buy?

Hey, let's talk about iPads a little.  

I tried out the 12" Pro in January - drawing on it was fun and reading comics was great, but some of the regular uses of my previous device, the iPad Mini 2, (e.g. reading books) felt silly. It was big and expensive and I wasn't sure how to fit it into my life, so I took it back. Keeping it would have meant choosing between a) accepting that I now own two iPads, or b) having to sell my Mini, which doesn't have much resale value, and it's only selling point is that it does pretty much everything I want. 

I told myself that if only there were a 'regular' size iPad that supported Pencil, that would solve my dilemma. And now there is. And I've got one. And using the Pencil is fun. But in every other way, it doesn't feel any different, any better than my Mini. I mean, I know that officially the Pro is a better machine than this couple-years-old Mini, but in a week of use I haven't found a good way to prove it. 

I've been listening to Cortex episodes on the subject of multiple iPads, where the broad justification is 'it's not weird to own multiple Macs for different uses.' And I do own a couple of Macs, but unlike Myke or Grey or even MacSparky, I don't see myself transitioning away from them because my line of work is in video editing and animating. The tools I need aren't on the iPad, so my use cases are mostly consumptive, and keeping two around that I swap depending on whether the thing I'm reading has pictures feels extravagant at best. (Plus, if I were doing that, it should really be the full Pro and the Mini.)

This might be the foothold for a larger conversation about Apple, but I think what I'm really chasing after is the feeling of unwrapping something new and amazing. After one week with the new Pro, I wanted to feel like it's crazy that I even found the Mini usable before, like it'd be impossible to go back. Like moving from iPad 1 to 3 and saying "oh, that's what that's supposed to be!" Maybe we're at a hardware plateau, but I don't think I've had that little charge of excitement in a while.

The laptop I'm writing this on is circa 2013, (I just plain wouldn't consider an iPad for this. Seems like needless hardship.) as is my Mac Pro, and there are no replacements on the market that feel in any way tempting. Nor does either computer feel slow or lacking in a way that makes me want to seek out a replacement. Even on the iOS front, I think my iPhone 5 was the best phone I've owned, and I maybe would've been happier if I'd stuck it out until the 6SE rolled around.

The path of least resistance is to just keep this 9.7" Pro past the return window, and all week long I've been trying to figure out if it's worthwhile. That probably means that it's not. If it were my first iPad, it would be incredible. 

It's tough to keep demanding more magic.