Texas and Montana Sunsets
The Impact of Star Wars
Old Music Videos
The 'War Games' Screenwriter and the List of Attack Names
Wait, She Just Litters?!?
The Guy Who Brings Slash a Lit Cigarette During a Guitar Solo
The Art of the Disc Golf Runup with James Conrad
“The Art of the Runup” with James Conrad - JC’s known for his championship-level disc golf game, long hair, beard, and “it takes a runway” runup.
Thanks for CCDG for letting me use footage of a JC bomb! If you don’t subscribe to CCDG, go here and do it. Fantastic disc golf coverage: https://www.youtube.com/user/CentralCoastDiscGolf
Here’s the full video with this shot in it: https://youtu.be/mIR_38MzQXk?t=991
Here’s another video showing Conrad’s artful runup: https://youtu.be/z5JX6GZoG1o?t=1307
Foley Sound Design for Screeching Tires Using a Hot Water Bottle
I saw a video of foley artists on Youtube and that they make screech car tire sounds using this hot water bottle technique. I thought, “I need to do that!” and ordered one on Amazon. Whelp. It was latex not rubber and didn’t screech at all. So, I bought one at CVS. Same thing. I gave up, figuring that they didn’t sell rubber anymore (turns out, a lot of people are allergic to rubber, but not latex, which is why companies made the switch.).
Then, randomly, I was at my local grocery store, an Albertson’s, and I was near the first aid aisle, so I decided to check. Lo and behold! Voila! Hurray! Now I can’t wait for the next time I need screeching tires.
Valentine's Day Diary
I like this energetic audio-diary format, somewhat of a Mockumentary. I’ve done previous versions for Mother’s Day and the 4th of July, and a non-holiday version for a doctor’s appointment (way back in 2002), called Stress Test. Inspired by Bill Simmon’s old ESPN diaries.
Andy and Dirk
I wrote this for a Third Coast Festival contest years ago, but it had to be under three minutes long so I never submitted it. It had to start with “To begin with, they never got along” or something like that.
I ended up really liking this piece at this length. It’s 100% true. The party was beyond epic and it’s just kind of amazing to think of the people in my life at this time, all the stuff going on. It was really fun.
A bit of the story I cut in an effort to bring it down to three minutes: Late in my junior year, I bought a pickup that looked similar to Dirk’s. Same Ford F100, about the same model year. They were different colors but we both had five orange lights above the windshield on the cab. I didn’t really think about it at first, but at night, our trucks looked a lot alike.
Back then, we basically drove around a lot. Most people had a vehicle, and if you didn’t, you made friends with someone who did. So, I’m driving around, cruising, and people are honking, waving, I got flashed by a girl outside a bar, people yelled at me. My friends and I were like, “WTF is going on?!?” It was like we were suddenly movie stars or something. Dirk actually stopped me to find out who I was, because I was confusing people. He was pretty cool at that point, but during the conversation, I thought he was actually going to force me to take the lights off or something. People eventually figured it out, mostly, but twice I had a bunch of very angry men - not boys, men - running me down to give me some heat. When they figured out I wasn’t Dirk, they moved on. I guess the life of the local Big Fish wasn’t all parties and ladies.
By the way, if you want to see kind of what Dirk was like, think Roadhouse Patrick Swayze or maybe Red Dawn Patrick Swayze. Handsome, charismatic, a bad ass, tough. I have thought to look him up, but maybe it’s best I let it go. It might be disappointing.
4th of July Fireworks
By the time I came up with 4th of July Fireworks, I had done a couple of audio diaries and thought I’d give this a shot. It was really fun, because a) It’s the 4th of July and b) it involved Fireworks. Growing up, there were so many mishaps. In high school, on Halloween people would get out their PVC “bottle rocket guns” and have street fights. The PVC tubes were fashioned into a gun shape. You put the bottle rocket into the tube, light it, and shoot it at someone.
Smart? Uh, no. Electric? Yes. Mainly the kids in the town I grew up in would drive around shooting at each other. Halloween of my freshman year, there were four in the cab and probably 8-10 of us in the bed of a pickup, and several other similar groups we were fighting. I guess it was kind of a 1980s version of a modern first-person shooter game, or paintball or airsoft. It was pretty cool. We took no safety precautions but no one lost an eye, which is probably a miracle, really. At one point, we were talking to an older girl who was going to buy some beer on our group’s behalf and one of the bottle rockets shot into her car – through her rolled-down window – and went off in the back seat.
They didn’t get their beer.
Anyway, I tried to pull that “devil may care” vibe so prevalent in my high school buddies into the story with the main character basically being a maniac who isn’t just trying to keep up with the Joneses, but trying to outdo the US Government.
Mother's Day Diary
When Mother’s Day rolled around in 2004, I thought ‘hey, I should write one of those diaries for it.’ This is the result. It’s not a reflection of my relationship with my then-wife, but I often would read news stories about how guys shop last-minute and how they forget birthday’s, anniversaries, and such and took the opportunity to have a little fun.
I got this idea from a similar story in Reader’s Digest. I loved reading all the anecdotes and jokes and the little filler items they had at the end of a story that ran a bit short. One of the anecdotes was from a woman who said something like this happened to her father. I have looked for this anecdote before, but have yet to find it again. It’s probably from the early 1990s.
This is kind of a flop, not bad but not especially memorable either.
Here’s my creepiest story. This is sometimes played by random public radio stations around Halloween. Years ago, it was featured on Love & Radio as well.
I often work late and get up early, and make up for it with a nap or two during the day. It was during one of these naps where I had a nightmare. I remember it involving a tall, rickety tower that went 100 stories deep under my house and how it was haunted. In the dream, I filled it with hundreds or thousands of tons of cement.
When I woke up, I immediately thought I should write it down and make a story from it. But, as you know, as soon as you start trying to remember a dream, it stops making sense, and starts to fade. I lost most of the dream, but this is what I ended up with, after a couple of re-writes. It’s pretty creepy and fun and I wish I could write this kind of thing on command, because I would probably do a lot of it. One of my favorite binges is Black Mirror, and when I look back, I feel like this has that vibe, though I wish it were half as good as the worst Black Mirror episode.
God is Talking to Me
This story idea came to me a long time before I did it. I was downtown walking around and almost stepped in front of a bus. It was pretty near miss, probably one of my top ten “near death” experiences. I thought, “Why doesn’t God just talk to us, and say, ‘hey, doofus, watch where you’re going!’”
I made a note of the idea, but didn’t have much to go with. I wanted to make it fun, like I was the idiot, not God (of course…), but I didn’t know how to do something like that.
Then, I found a way to bring more energy, via editing, when I produced Stress Test. When I eventually had an inspiration about finding my father - an issue I never had but my father did have, and who searched for his father for years - I wrote and produced it in eight hours. I often do that; it just all comes together quickly and voila!
This has been one of my most-liked stories. I think a lot of people can relate to various parts, if not the actual talking to God aspect. It’s also fairly light at first and takes a touching turn.
This is one of the pieces where I feel like I really found my sound. I had made a few pieces in the regular way, telling a story, adding a little music. In this one, I had this really weird experience going to the doctor. This piece is basically true, with some embellishments for humor’s stake. But, all the things I say happened, did happen.
On the way back from the appointment, I started jotting down notes about it on an envelope I had in the car. I wrote it up that night, and a few weeks later voiced it. And… it was just flat. No energy. I couldn’t give it the pep it needed with my deep, serious, and rather plodding voice. A voice meant for maybe a documentary or an explainer video, but not for humor. After struggling with it for a few weeks, I decided to just cut out all the pauses and… Energy! I added some up-tempo background music and felt good about it. At one point, a Canadian radio station interviewed me about both this and God is Talking to Me, which was produced on the same principles. I had struggled with that one for awhile, too, but once I’d done Stress Test, GiTtM fell into place quickly.
A quick note: This is pre Google Maps. I actually had a laminated map of Corpus Christi, Texas, where I was living, and was referring to it trying to get to this appointment. As of this writing, it was 18+ years ago, and it seems like the stone ages.
I went out to eat with some friends and there was a lot of overt racism. I thought about it for a couple of weeks because I was really frustrated by the assholes in that restaurant (a well-known American seafood chain). I guess I had feelings of vengeance to work through.
Growing up in Montana, I hadn’t been around many black families but I was raised well, and wasn’t basing feelings on the color of people’s skin. The family was my oldest son’s best friend’s family, and we went out to eat because they were moving.
In general, I’m happy with this piece, but one reviewer complained about the music. It’s not perfect. I also regret a line in the story where I say I understand how racism feels. There isn’t any way I could understand the crap people have to go through because of other’s racism.
This is a “gray area” story. Was I in the right for what I did? Did I have the right to do it? Some say yes, many people have responded with an emphatic “NO!” If that were a real moment, I still don’t know what I would do.
I was looking for one of the scariest/stressful things I could think of for a young man, and being naked and 3-5 minutes from my clothes would have done it for me. Several people have mentioned the tangents in this one, where I go off and talk about something seemingly unrelated at just a tense moment. My favorite part is where I introduce Jake & Camille. Most first-time listeners are like “WTF? They’re naked?” It seems weird and creepy but once explained… yeah, it’s still pretty weird.
This is one of my Dad’s favorite pieces I’ve done. This is based on a reservoir he and I used to windsurf on in high school, Cooney Dam in Montana. There were whole sections you couldn’t get to in late summer because the winter runoff was over and it was just hot out.
In the summer, I used to mountain bike down Snowbowl and if you went under the lifts, you could find all kinds of stuff people accidentally dropped while riding up. It was mostly lip balm and sunglasses, but I had heard stories of watches, wallets, prescription glasses, etc.
Going through other people’s trash. This is one of my Mom’s favorite pieces that I’ve done. It was originally part of a Mockumentary CD I put out in the early part of the millennium. It’s creepy at times, sometimes humorous, tongue in cheek and totally possible. When I had the idea, I sat down and thought about what it would be like to do it, and it felt pretty weird coming up with some of the things I thought I might find in other people’s trash.