Tag Archives: UDI271

Unfortunate Demonic Incident No. 271 (Redux)

It’s here! It’s here!

In this “Buffy” vs. “Office Space” style radio play, Kara is about to lose her job because she was born with a demon attached to her soul. Now she must choose whether to cut him down, or cut him free.

Original show: blogtalkradio.com/rithebard
Author: Setsu Uzume – katanapen.wordpress.com


Sarah Rudd……………………Kara, a hapless maiden
Charlie Floyd………………….Marron, a hapless demon who lives in Kara’s brain
Everett Robert………………..Gerard, Kara’s boyfriend, rather full of hap
Tonia Carr……………………..Kara’s Grandmother, who makes her own hap happen
Sherri Rabinowitz…………….Bendersen, Kara’s boss
Jennifer Ripley……………….Crescent, manager of Headfiend
Don Logan……………………..Bumperstyle, performer, Headfiend
Carson Beker………………….Polly, performer of Headfiend
Katie Bowerbank…………….Tiffany, Kara’s colleague
Levi Werner……………………Ted, Kara’s colleague
Carrie Sessarego……………..Tina, Kara’s colleague


Impostor Syndrome, Afterschool Specials, & Voltaire

Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien. (The perfect is the enemy of the good)  

– Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet)

There are dozens of ways to interpret the above quote, but the one I’d like to wave around is: don’t let your efforts to achieve near-impossible perfection prevent you from getting your work done in the first place.

Recently I was asked to provide an expert opinion for a fantastic blog on Science in Science Fiction, and Fact in Fantasy. I thought, yeah, of course I could write about that. I have acquired knowledge through sweat-experience and collegiate study. I can totally do that. Then I read the rest of the blog to see where the bar had been set, panicked, and passed up the chance.

This happens to everyone. Impostor syndrome is when you find yourself in the position of a pro, an expert, or any other perceived high level, and you lose your nerve. You don’t believe you belong there, and walk out — transforming that belief into reality.

Could I have provided an article on par with what had been previously posted? Most likely, yes, but we’ll never know, because I didn’t do it.

I’m almost done re-cutting UDI271, which was the show we did last year. Now that I’ve listened to the audio four hundred million times, I have to say — this is not my best work. It is exactly the kind of B-movie meets Afterschool Special you’d expect for cranking out a play at 1am the night of a deadline. When I think about the other stories and books I’ve written, this doesn’t even really feel like it’s mine. The tone is odd. The voice is odd. The bad guys aren’t that scary, and the resolution is so neat and happy a middle-grade audience would be on board. I could Alan Smithee this thing, but I won’t. It’s not perfect, it’s not great; but it’s good.

Why is it Good?
1. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
2. It has interesting characters with complex histories.
3. It dances from complex philosophy and terrible puns with remarkable agility.
4. My lead actors were phenomenal.
5. It taught me how to be a director: to build a schedule, to have a master plan, to accept input and then filter it as appropriate.
6. I learned about audio software like GoldWave and Audacity.
7. I learned how much time and energy goes into producing a radio play, from concept, to script, to rehearsals, to re-casting, to making mistakes in public, to post-production.
8. I was asked to produce work, outside my medium, on a deadline, and we all saw it through to the end, on schedule.

Why did it miss Perfection?
1. There are a lot of skills I don’t have yet.
2. Technical difficulties.

For all of its flaws, I still plan to post it. I have some control over #1, and little control over #2. This work has helped me established a baseline for my own ability so I know to read more, or outsource, next time. If I had waited for it to be perfect, it would never have gotten done.

If I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t have learned anything.

There will be times when you think it’s not perfect, but good; and the work actually sucks. You will fall on your face. That happens too. Try, fail, fail better. That was Kurt Vonnegut, wasn’t it? No — no, that was Samuel Beckett.

Was Beckett good, or perfect?

I, for one, will never say.

Worldcon in Spokane is happening.  My schedule might be finalized. See you there!

Mistakes I made as a first-time director

I thought about putting together a blooper reel of our rehearsals but they turned out too insane and esoteric to post in any kind of cohesive way.

Here we have the scene where Marron and Kara finally go head-to-head, where I discuss with Sarah and Charlie where their characters are and how to approach the scene.

Before we took this on, I did a lot of reading on how to be a good director and applied the following:

  • Build a schedule – this helps you map your rehearsals, schedule meetings with your producer, and so forth. It also helps to leave some blank spaces between rehearsals for one-on-one work. If you’re super-pro, you’ll include the post-production schedule also.
  • Take attendance.
  • Don’t let anyone stand around. If they’re present, they have to work. When they’re done, let them leave.
  • Give general motivations, not line-by-line instructions (I was really bad at this.)
  • Encourage the actors to work together when they’re not scheduled for a rehearsal with you.
  • Let people know when they’re doing well.
  • When someone consistently fucks up, remember that this is a collaboration. There is always something you can do to facilitate a solution.
  • A kind word goes a long way, but bullshit will destroy you all  – by bullshit, I mean false encouragement, allowing disruptive behavior to go unchecked, and settling for less than your best.
  • You’ll get a lot of advice and pushback. Some of the input will be useful, some of it won’t. Be open to new ideas, as long as they will benefit your project.
  • The more you do it, the better you get.

Note: 2/3rds of this recording were accomplished while both sick and drunk.

Discovering Your Voice In Other People


Cast Interview: 10/14.

Mark your calendar and bookmark

After writing short stories and novels for years and years, I’ve made the transition into audio. I’ve had the great fortune to have one of my shows produced by Sherri’s Playhouse and I have to say it’s been an amazing experience. When you finish a piece of writing, you send it off to readers for feedback, and the process can take months. With a play, you’ve got an army of people reading and working with the words immediately. You’ll know within moments whether or not the writing works, and you’ve got all these other people who know your story and know your characters who will help show you why or why not.

That is awesome.

Tonight at 7pm Pacific Standard Time, the cast of Unfortunate Demonic Incident No. 271 will join me to talk about the play, the process, and inner demons. I’m really excited to be able to chitchat about this kind of collaboration, and I’d like to give some background and context for tonight’s show.

Unfortunate Demonic Incident No. 271 burst forth in the middle of the night from a number of unrelated elements, the most of which was an argument over whether or not a necklace would be considered work-appropriate or not. This got me thinking about a number of larger issues surrounding dress code, not the least of which was Chimamanda Adichie’s assertion that hair is political. African braids wouldn’t be considered work-appropriate; nor would Native American braids or long hair on men. Who decided these rules? Are they fair? How can you be yourself, and work toward goals you’re truly passionate about, when our industrial-worker system is designed to stamp that out of you?

With all these petty injustices in mind, consider also: what would it be like if your inner voice was real and beyond your control… a separate entity, vying for power over your mind and your limbs ?

Enter Marron, the demon.

My star, Kara is locked in a constant battle with Marron over control of her life. As the writer and director my job is similar; but I have to say it has also been much more gratifying.

In TV, it’s all about the writer. In movies, it’s all about the director; but in theater (and radio plays definitely count as theater) it’s collaborative. This is an effort put forth by everyone. I’m in the unique position of being able to see all the pieces moving at once:

  • each actor’s individual concerns
  • how they interact with each other
  • the point/message/goal of each scene
  • working out the technical aspects

It has all been fun. It has all been challenging. I find myself constantly looking for ways to make the show better, to make the words clearer, and once everything’s in place, how to make it even cooler.

I guide and facilitate, and then get the hell out of the way.

Be sure to join me tonight for the live cast interview — we’ll be taking questions from the audience.  Tweet #UDI271 to @KatanaPen and spread the word!

Cast Interview: 10/14.

Mark your calendar and bookmark

Until then…

Unfortunate Incidents and Behavior at Work

Corporate environments go to great lengths to get metrics on happiness, but only as it relates to productivity. This research directly relates to my upcoming radio play, Unfortunate Demonic Incident No. 271. Recently I took the Predictive Index test, which asks two simple questions.

1. How are you expected to behave at work? Check as many as apply (below is a list of dozens of adjectives.)

2. What are you really like? Check as many as apply (same list of adjectives)

From there the test extrapolates out how you feel you need to adjust your behavior at work, what your core personality is, and how those two ‘selves’ manifest in your current environment. The closer all the dots are, the happier you are. If they’re spread wide across the spectrum, you’re more likely to be under stress, feel those stresses more intensely, and be unhappy. People mostly get fired for a failure to adjust. It’s a behavior thing, not a competence thing.

But what if your “bad behavior” consists of having a tattoo?

Here are some snippets from my 3-page report:

  • Setsu is a distinctly independent and individualistic person, strong-minded and determined. Venturesome, she will “stick her neck out” and take responsibility for risks when she believes she is right.
  • Setsu is an ingenious and innovative problem-solver and troubleshooter.
  • Authoritative in influencing others towards her goal; will get right down to business with as little small talk as necessary.

Imagine for a moment that your work-self and core self are at such severe odds that your core self has to pipe up every now and again. What would it say?

Would you agree with it?

Is it even on your side?

If you’re on twitter, let me know by tweeting #UDI271 and share your thoughts.

“…I hope all men of good‐will will be maladjusted until the good societies realize. I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

We move through life based on acceptance by our peers… when things get emotionally challenging or don’t feel safe, the personality-driven person will panic. Living from your persona rather than your true self is “an agreement with mediocrity.”
Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith