Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Elvis Lives!

Elvis Tour Bus - Click image for CC attribution

Yet more podcast short fiction from the Bordet pen. This one is a very short tale for the "100 Word Stories" podcast. It was based on the prompt "Elvis drives a bus" and goes somewhere along the road of trying to explain just how that could happen.

Obviously, it takes place in some other reality. It isn't the 'Some Other Scotland' world, though there is some common ground. It's based on Elvis' Scottish roots, it's fun and it only takes seconds to read. Alternatively, download the whole podcast and enjoy a barrage of stories with roughly the same theme, albeit with very different approaches.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Busy Theremin Week

Three bits of theremin-related news popped up this week:

Don't Mind Me

My short fictional tale of the effects of excessive theremin-playing is now available at Great Hites for you to read or to listen to as part of the podcast. The advantage of the podcast is that, not only do you get to hear my dulcet tones reading it (oh deep joy), but it is backed by some reasonably subtle theremin effects, hopefully adding to the atmosphere. It's a fair bit less serious than my last GH story, but I'm quite happy with it. Whilst you're there, check out the other stories and vote for your favourite.

The Beat Frequency Theremin Method

Experimental thereminist and Lunacy Board collaborator, Gordon Charlton (a.k.a. Beat Frequency) has released a rather special double package that incorporates both his treatise on experimental theremin playing, "The Beat Frequency Theremin Method", and his debut solo album "The Chordless Chord" for the bargain price of only £8. The book is an interesting read for anyone interested in making electronic music, or in the experimental process, and not just budding theremin players. The order form is available on his blog along with video clips and an online preview of the book.

Hands Off 2009

It really doesn't seem like two years since the last Hands Off event, but here we are. This time round there are no workshops and no concert, with the event being a completely different beast. The aim this time is to use the combined theremin might of those attending (around only 20 in total - a select bunch), along with whatever additional noise-making equipment we can get hold of, to craft an album within two days. I believe the idea will be to split into smaller groups to work on pieces, recording them as we go, before picking the best to go together on an album. Given that the Lunacy Board managed to pull of an album in a single day, I don't think this is an impossible task and wouldn't be surprised if we got a double CD out of it. Time will tell. What will be interesting is the mix of people attending, from instrument builders and experimentalists through to classical theremin players - it is certain to feature lots of strange and unusual stuff. I'm looking forward to this, but it's not until the end of August, so the wait begins here...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wearing my pen out

Great Hites

You'll no doubt have seen my previous posts about a couple of my short stories that have been included on the 'Great Hites' podcast. There is a section for voting on the site and I'm pleased to say that my first two efforts both came in first place on the list, so I must be doing something right.

To celebrate the podcast's first year of existence and to secure a wider audience, Jeff (top man and head of the 'secret council of three') has recently announced that future poll winning entries at Great Hites will be eligible for inclusion in the forthcoming Great Hites Anthology (name to be confirmed - Jeff is still looking for suggestions) . This 'Greatest Hites' will be available through podiobooks.com, which has a fairly large audience. I'm delighted to say that, as the 'winning' story in the anniversary week, "To The Clouds" will be the first tale in the anthology. Since writing that, I have submitted another two stories, so this seems like a good time to provide a quick summary of recent writings.


I have created a page with links to all my online writings that I will update regularly. It is linked from the front page of this blog and can be found here.

Great Hites - Short Stories

GH Week 51 "Anthropomorphism"
Gregory and Friends
What can you do to squeeze the last drop of earning potential from something? Anthropomorphise it!
GH Week 52 "It has been a year, what have I done with myself?"
To The Clouds
One man's view of the historic R34 airship crossing of the Atlantic.
GH Week 53 "My mind has been going places without me lately."
Don't Mind Me
The theremin is a mysterious-sounding instrument, but does it affect more than just sound waves?
GH Week 54 "A pound of flesh"
A touching tale of man's best friend.
GH Week 55 "Robots, they are all robots!"
The Robot Band
If money was no object, what would the band be like?
GH Week 56 "Missing link primate likely to stir debate."
A tragic loss sends Maart miles from home, but his return years later holds some surprises in store.
GH Week 57 "Running Shoes"
Running Shoes
A seemingly minor change to the law has major implications. A barefoot world.

Monday, May 11, 2009

"To The Clouds" - A life changed by the R34 Airship

R34 at Mineola

Life can take you on interesting detours.

I sat down a couple of nights ago to write the next episode of 'Some Other Scotland', only to find myself some time later digging through the internet for every scrap of information I could find about the R34 - the first aircraft to make a return Atlantic crossing. Why? It all ties in with the first 'spin-off' story from SOS, and I was checking some facts from the past before including them in the main podcast so that I wouldn't end up contradicting myself when I come to writing the off-shoot. It seemed like a logical course of action.

What I ended up with, in conjunction with the latest prompt from Great Hites, was a short stand-alone story providing background for the main character of that story. It is, in effect, a spin-off from the spin-off.

This new story tells the tale of one year in the life of a rigger on the R34 airship, which was based at East Fortune, not far from North Berwick. As it stands, there is no direct link with the podcast story, but the forthcoming special episode will tie the two together.

Pay a visit to Great Hites' latest episode to read the story or listen to me reading it, along with a number of other short tales read by their authors. Great Hites celebrates a year or podcasting short fiction this week, so drop by and show your support!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Things to be done and things not

Viva La Fry

First of all, I've signed up to do a song for the 'Viva la Fry' project. Click on the link for more details of what it is. I have no idea what to do for this, but my inclination is to keep it very simple, maybe just uke and vocal. No deadline has been set, other than ASAP, which is pretty non-specific. They're still looking for participants, so if you're interested in going head-to-head with Coldplay, take a look.

If you'd like a bigger challenge, there is still time (until Monday) to sign on for the next edition of 'Masters of Song Fu'. Having done a few now, I can recommend the experience as a way to develop your songwriting chops and getting some useful feedback about your songs. I'm sitting this one out to concentrate on other things, but will be following along as spectator.

Finally for now, I have submitted another short story to the Great Hites podcast. My first one seems to have been well-received, so the new one may appear within the next few days. More details if and when it does, but it is a more serious story which feeds into 'Some Other Scotland'. If you haven't heard (or read) the first one - have a look at the site - you can subscribe to the whole podcast or just read the individual stories if you prefer.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Music for Podcasting

One thing I have found since starting the podcast is that sometimes I just can't synthesise or recreate a sound effect to my satisfaction - that's what full-time sound designers are paid the big bucks for (assuming they ARE paid big bucks, that is). There's a wealth of stuff out on the internet, some free and some very expensive, with little assistance in distinguishing between the two. My preference is to go with Creative Commons music where I don't have something of my own that will fit the bill, but often the stuff I want to use has a non-commercial or no-derivatives licence. There are quite a few sites offering royalty free music, but most of the ones I came across were either needlessly complex, hideously expensive or only offered music on CD or DVD.

Audiobank.fm seems to be a little different, with easy to navigate categories, a pretty wide variety - not just piles of electronic breakbeats - and per-track pricing, meaning that if my podcast only needs one short snippet of polka, then that's all I pay for. Prices are around the $10 mark - high in comparison to most online music shops, but quite reasonable for a lifetime of royalty-free commercial use. They also do their own Reason drum kit with a range of 15 different kit styles using 24 bit samples.

Certainly worth a look if you're on the look-out for jingles for your podcast.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Great Hites

Great Hites

The short story I mentioned in the last post has appeared in Episode 51 of the Great Hites podcast which features short stories based on a common weekly theme. I have enjoyed several of the stories featured over the last few weeks that I've been following it, and the prompt for the latest week, "Anthropomorphism", inspired me to pen a short tale of (perhaps) the world's first marketing department.

It has been a nice little departure from the ongoing saga of twists and turns at Some Other Scotland, light-hearted with a tang of cynicism. Next week is the first anniversary of Great Hites, so I hope to submit something to that episode too, though that will depend on whether I get this week's SOS completed in time.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Masters of Song Fu - Hanging up that hat

For the first time since it started, 'Masters of Song Fu' has been won by a challenger - well done Molly! They have already announced the date for sign-up for the next round, but I think I'm going to take a rest from the Fu for a while.

I need to devote more time to the Some Other Scotland podcast for a while, as Song Fu deadlines meant that podcast episodes have slipped back. I have a special non-story episode coming up soon (after episode 10 launches) that will deal with some questions I've had about the story. That has yet to be recorded, so please feel free to send questions and/or feedback to me at mickbordet {at} gmail {dot} com and I can reply on the podcast.

When the podcast started, I hoped to be able to expand the world with a few spin-off stories giving some background to certain characters or events - short tales that would stand on their own as well as giving more depth to the main story. I have come up with a rough plan for the first of these, though it has turned out to be a bit more ambitious than originally planned because it will be more of an audio drama than the main podcast. More news on that as I settle the thing down in a script.

I've also completed a short story for possible inclusion on another podcast, so details of that will follow if it comes into being. If it doesn't I may just post it here instead.

All of this writing and podcasting activity does NOT mean that the music has been abandoned, though. There are a couple of possible guest appearances in the pipeline, a Lunacy Board session of some sort is long overdue and I have a few half-completed songs still kicking around from the FAWM challenge that need to be finished off. At some point soon I'll also revisit the Song Fu material I have amassed and combine it into an album, though there are some parts to be re-recorded with the luxury of no deadline, as the originals make me cringe in several places. Finally, I have a top secret plan for a podcast-related musical piece that will surface at some point and, who knows, maybe one of these days I'll get round to sorting out the pile of Dunoon songs.