CBS Radio Mystery Theater

With great actors such as E.G. Marshall as hosts,  these are a vast improvement over the earlier radio programs.    Most of the scripts were very good,  not the hit or miss quality of some of the older programs.   They were made well into the 1980’s and are 45 minutes long.  Long enough for a decent story.

I am listening to this one now,  The Dead Deserve to Rest

The official site seems even better than the Internet Radio Archive  CBS Radio Mystery Theater..   This site has reviews, 1-5 stars.  I just discovered these this night.   It’s the best thing I have found in months.

What I particularly like,  are the original plots and stories.  Often,  the stories are by famous authors such as Ambrose Bierce,  H.P. Lovecraft, and others.  The older series were often cranked out in a week.

The CBS effects, narration, and script are much better than most of the older series.    It ran from 1974 to 1982,  and was highly successful.   I never even heard of these when I was a kid.  I was too busy listening to the Beatles, and worrying about going to Vietnam.


Imagination Theater

I just listened to one of the shows from “Imagination Theater”.   Very good, and I never knew this sort of radio was still being produced..  Imagination Theater is currently broadcasting on Sirius Radio, and making new shows.  I listened to a Sherlock Holmes, and a Horror one,  “Mr. Darnborough Investigates”.

First rate stuff.  Very well done, very modern.

Lately, I’ve come to prefer these, especially when I want to listen to a spooky story at night before I go to sleep. Independence Avenue is a spooky place by itself, but when I am cozy in my apartment.. that front door is locked, and a cool breeze is coming in, it’s time for some entertainment.  NO.. I am not talking about smoking crack, like so many do around here.. but some real entertainment.

I listened to a episode from “Powder River” (Western).  Good stuff, well done.  Then “The Bouganville Giant” (Horror), again well done!  These were done in the modern era..1990 and are just as good as a video for a thrill.

The only thing missing from the Audio format of story telling is the detail.  For example, the can’t see the type of pistol that he has, the type of cheroot he is chewing..the stubble on his face..the dust on his boots.  But- it is cheap.  You can produce very imaginative stories for cheap.  No CGI.  No extras.  No cameramen.  You could make a universe filled with giant space ships that are as big as planets- no problem whatsoever.

Audio stories are good, but there is room for improvement.  I can’t say exactly what that would be.  It is something like, the detail of the story.  For instance, “30 Days of Night” was a good vampire story, because of the vampires in it.  They were very scary.   The audio stories seem too short, also.

Golden Age Radio

I get a bang out of old time radio shows.  I especially like “Hermit’s Cave”, these are supernatural stories.  I will post more links on here,  I think I have posted about them before.  Really spooky stories.  If it is a good story, who cares what medium it is in?  I really don’t.

It is the story, and the way that it is told, that make good entertainment.  Stories that grab and lead your emotions on that roller coaster.  I had a Radio site, hosted on “Siteground”, but they started wheedling me for more money, so I had it taken down.

It is hard to find a good Web Host.  The ratings of these web hosts are often bogus.  These people are very slick in their knowledge of the Internet, so the forums are often filled with shills, posting about how great a web host is.  The main way to check them out is to look for BAD posts about them.  Type “siteground sucks” in Google, and see what comes up.

Web hosts are notorious for trying to weasel customers out of money by saying that it “uses too much bandwidth”.. it’s “putting a strain on our servers”.  They do this, after a flat rate guarantee.

In my case, my sites were mostly “toy” sites, where I was trying out different shopping cart scripts.  I wasn’t selling anything, carrying on any commerce.  I did have a site where there were some MP3 downloads,  MP3’s that a person could download, or listen to while my page was there.  Non advertised, no nothing.  I was playing with Joomla (a CMS or content management system), and considered them strictly “play” sites.

ANYWAYS..   I like a lot of these programs.  The stories are creepy, and just as twisted as Stephen King or Quentin Tarantino’s.  I have been preferring these lately.  Creepy.   There’s “Murder at Midnight”.. “Inner Sanctum”,  “Dark Mystery”..”Black Mass”, and many others.

The Golden age of Radio lasted for many years, and produced some fine stories.  It lasted from 1920 to 1960, before being replaced by the TV set.  I love the timelessness of art.   Consider the cave drawings in France/  No matter if it is a book, a radio program, or a 3D movie, art is timeless.  People just can’t get enough of the stories that are published, and there always seems to be room for a new one!

Vigo Red Beans and Rice

I just made some Vigo brand, Red Beans and Rice. These were bought at the Apple Market, for $1 a package.  Apple Market carries also the Black Beans and Rice, and the Jambalya rice.  My verdict?  I agree with the 5 star ratings around the net.  You can type “Vigo Red Beans and Rice review” into Google, and find out what others say about them.

These come in a small dry mix.  You boil some water, add the mix, along with a tablespoon of butter or margarine.  Then cover tightly, and let simmer for 22-25 minutes.  I added some powdered chicken bullion.

The advertisement says “completely seasoned”, and they are truthful. It’s really good stuff.  The sauce is very creamy.  The proportion of rice to beans is good, and it is excellent in it’s flavor.  You really need nothing else.  I can’t get over how flavorful Vigo is.    It is not quite the same as Popeye’s Chicken red beans and rice.  They are different, but I rate the Vigo just as tasty.  Maybe Popeye’s are a little better, but only slightly.   It makes quite a saucepan full, and is rib sticking and satisfying.  You might make better on your own.  MAYBE.  Then maybe not.  The seasonings are just right in the Vigo.  With this stuff around, I’d never bother with making red beans and rice from scratch, why would I?

I dunno how many servings it makes, I’d say 4 generous servings.  It is so filling I would say that is about right.  The beans in it are very good for you, and it sure tastes good!  I expected it to be a little bland, and was pleasantly surprised.  Thumbs up.  I’ll be keeping this in the kitchen.  The 25 minutes went by quickly, and I simmered it on extremely low heat,  the flames just barely peeking from the holes in the burner.  I am gonna try the black beans and rice next.

Liquid Story Binder Writing Software

I have been evaluating Liquid Story Binder for the past 32 hours or so. At first, this software, seemed just like another outliner program, ho hum.  After finding out how it works, and seeing all the feature, I rate this software 5 stars- it’s the bomb.

At first, you open the software. *yawn*.  Yet another text editor.  You think, “well where am I supposed to start?”.   There are video tutorials, but the first thing to do is go to the HELP files.  The HELP is really great on this software.  Type in “Three Basic Steps”.  This was most helpful for me.

The thing that is so great about this software is it’s flexibility.  You can start anywhere.  I like to make a couple of dossiers.  Each dossier can have it’s own image, or image gallery.

A Planner is where you might start.  The planner can have a timeline, a mindmap, a dossier, a gallery, a sequence, a outline, a checklist, notes.  Each element of the planner can also have these things.

So you could have a TIMELINE for each chapter, a Dossier,  a Mindmap, a Sequence, a Outline, and so on.  You could also make one PLANNER per chapter if you wanted.  You could have each SCENE have all of these elements.

It is so flexible that many things are redundant.  You can do whatever you want.  Start with a chapter.  There is a “Builder” object that is great for making scenes, then going to the Chapter.  You can start with a sequence of images.with notes  You can start with a Gallery.  You can start with a StoryBoard..whatever you want.  I’ve hardly used the StoryBoard feature,

You can have a StoryBoard for each chapter..and depending on how you’ve set up your Planner.. you could have a StoryBoard for each scene!

Sort of like PhotoShop, this software has stuff you might never need.   As the name “Liquid Story Binder” implies, it is very liquid, once you grasp the concepts.  It really did take me a while to “get it”.  Many of the objects have redundant features, Builder and Chapter, for instance.

I love the Thesaurus feature, the WordWeb integration, and you can also integrate other programs and web pages as resources.  For example, I downloaded Cliff Pickover’s writing tips web page to my drive, and incorporated that into the program.  I have FreePlane integrated into the program (a MindMapping tool)

There is a nifty Character Generator, that will come up with names and large range of attributes if you have trouble naming your character.

It has so many features I can’t even name them all at this time.  I spent the night downloading images for my story, to be incorporated into the galleries.  Each character dossier can have it’s own gallery of images that pops up.

A scene, or a chapter can have a dossier. You could have a dossier named “The Old Dark House”, that has a photo and characteristics of the Old Dark House.  You could have a Planner called the “Old Dark House”.  You can integrate anything you want, just about any way that you want.

It took me a while to “get it”.  The yahoogroups mailing list for Liquid Story is very helpful.  Man.. I love this software.  It is the winner of my evaluation.  It’s pretty cheap at $45, not bad at all.  You get quite a bit of bang for your buck, and they are always improving the software.   You get each update too, looks like a “lifetime” product.  It is great just the way it is.

I think this software is the cat’s meow.  Haven’t tried all of the software out there, and I don’t even know if I need to after figuring out how this one works.

Update: Liquid Story Binder sure likes to blow up a lot.  But then, it’s running in Windows a lot, so I can’t tell if it’s Windows blowing up, or Liquid Story Binder blowing up.  Oh well.  This product will mature.  I still really like it.

Update: I am writing a story.  Like so many wannabees, it is daunting.  Now WHO will read my stuff for me?  I went to a online text to speech site.. and WA LA!  Lots of errors are coming up that the spell check doesn’t catch.   THAT IS WHY.. this software is the CAT’S MEOW. You can very easily incorporate other programs in it, so that it just brings up the website or program..and POW.  You can check your work right away.  I love this program.

Even on a very old AGP machine, a SEMPRON 1.3 GHZ this works.  Yup.  Too bad I can’t afford the standalone software.  There are some very good Text to Speech voices out there.. VERY good.

The Computer All Nighter

The Internet is the All Night Radio. Pilot of the Airwaves, please hear my request.  I spent the past few days learning about writing software.  I tried Dramatica, I tried Liquid Story Binder, I tried Story Book.  I tried Ywriter5.  I tried Scrivener.  I tried New Novelist. Man- they are ALL great!

These are softwares used to aid writing.  More like outliners and planners than anything else.  They will NOT.. write your book for you!  Pity.

The bug with ALL of these softwares is that you must learn the program’s terminologies.  You have to think, how IT thinks, in other words.  Especially Dramatica.   I tell you one thing I am finding out- it’s harder than you think. Harder to write fiction, that is.

The best one so far is yWriter5. This has lots of features.  It has a character, location, object, scene, chapter, and part list.  You have to get used to the way the interface works, sometimes, it’s kind of annoying.  Many windows you cannot go in and just start editing, you have to click something else first.  But the price is right- for free.  It’s my favorite.  It’s storyboard feature could use updating.  Wish it was as good as Storybook’s.

Storybook I also like, but it falls short.  I like the graphical thread planner.   It’s also freeware, or donationware.   I wish it had the character development tools that Dramatica has.  But Dramatica is so complicated to use, it is very complicated. have to think.. how IT thinks to start using it.

Liquid Story Binder seems similar to a word processor, a outliner, with tools. There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.  NONE of these softwares give up their secrets so easily!   It’s like trying to learn all the functions of Photoshop. There are lots of features!  I like the Thesaurus that is built in.  I like the Character generator.  I like the Timeline.  I like the Storyboard.  I’ve had to explore it quite a bit to get started.   Liquid Story Binder has “planners” and “builders”, among other things.  It has Sequences (series of photos),  Storyboard,  Timeline, and Mindmap.  It resizes images, so you can go on the web and download photos that will help you visualize your story.. it’s neat..  It seems like it might be the “sleeper” of the group.  I really like this program a lot.

It is extremely flexible.  Each item can have it’s own dossier, timeline, sequence, storyboard, builder, and mindmap.  You are NOT held to a rigid structure.  You can use whatever tools you wish.  You can start right in with a chapter.  You can start with a storyboard, timeline or whatever you want.

It’s takes less mouse clicking to get what you want, into what you want.  You can write in the “chapter” or “builder” mode.  I like the Builder mode, now that I have the hang of it.  It is incredibly flexible.   Once you get the hang of it, boy it’s the kill.

There is much more to it than meets the eye, and I am just getting the hang of it.  I like the “Shortcuts” feature.  This brings up another program or file.  For instance I have mine set to bring up my “Pulp Fiction” mindmap.  This is a map of notes for writing fiction that I have gleaned, and am always adding to.

Storybook’s “Strand” tool is neat.  It is a easy, graphical way to develop sub-stories.  These are the best kind of stories, the kind with several, interwoven plots, such as “Hill Street Blues”.. or “Dune”.  I really like this tool.  It’s the easiest one to use.

Dramatica teaches you about writing as you go along.  It generates the outline using a series of questions.  This is good- if YOUR MIND works this way.  None of these softwares work like I work.  Man I just started in writing.   The softwares force you to develop the story by asking lots of questions.   Who is the hero?  Who is the contagonist?  Who is the foil?  I never even thought of these things, because I never went to creative writing classes.  Nope.  Mostly  technical studies is what I do.

Liquid Story Binder might be good, but again, there is a lot to be explored.  With Liquid Story Binder you might develop your own tools to work with.  For example, a text file with writing do’s and don’ts in it.  Liquid Story Binder is much more fluid than the others.  If you want to get in there, and start writing immediately, then it’s for you.  Well, not immediately.   I am gonna make a separate article about this program.  I really think it’s great.

yWriter5 has lots of neat little tools.  You can add to these tools also.  I like the “check for problem words” feature.  You can also add to this one.  In the notes section I put a lot of writing tips that I glean from around the net.  It’s nice to have things all in one package.

Freeplane (preceded by Freemind) is another great little all around tool.  It’s mind mapping software, like an outliner.  Takes a little bit to get the hang of it, but it’s really good, really visual.  I just got Freeplane.  It will read the Freemind maps. It’s free-ware also.  Very nice.  Very useful.

Scrivener I just downloaded this one.  Hmm.  It is allright, but I like the Thesauruses available on Liquid Story Binder better.  I am playing with Liquid S.B. the most.  Scrivener,  It doesn’t seem so outstanding to me, at least so far.

Note: ALL of these will run on the old HP Pavilion 7960.

These tools are a little much for me.  As I wrestle with the interfaces, terminologies, and the way the software works, well the idea that I originally had has flown away like a bird, and I forget what I was gonna start writing about!

Each one of these is different.  I like StoryBook, but wish it would be expanded.  Also, fiction writing seems like it is liquid and flowing, as you describe a reality.  Life, to be a living human being, is not so structured as these softwares try to make it.  Each one makes you conform to IT’S reality, IT’S terminology, IT’s way of thinking.

Please don’t make the mistake of using my initial evaluation as a definitive guide! I’m just getting started with these programs.  I have not NEARLY gone through these programs, well except for yWriter5 and Storybook.  Liquid Story Binder is interesting, I’ve been playing with it all morning.   Dramatica has me scratching my head and running for the dictionary.

Also, what matters the most, are good ideas, and writing skills.  These I do not think, can be duplicated by computer software.

You an buy yourself a Stradivarius.. that don’t mean you can play it.

Winter’s Bone

I just watched a movie last night called “Winter’s Bone” (2010).  The movie had hardly any special effects.  The heroine wasn’t a marshal arts expert.  No hi tech gadgets.  No rubber monsters.  The movie was realistic and it kept my attention beginning to end.  It’s a little gem of a movie.

The part where the young woman is trying to sign up for the military for the $40,000 bonus because she was gonna lose their home.  That really hits home.  Hey, that was me.

The part where they are eating squirrel that they shot..that was me.   So the movie is really down home. It’s been years since I hunted for food, or fished.  No time for it.. I’d rather have a hamburger anyways.  So the local squirrels and bunnies don’t gotta worry about me.

The movie was about meth dealers down in Southern Missouri.  I will not reveal the plot.  It’s the same thing around here, only the drug is usually crack.  They are a presence in the community.  Bigger than the local government, eh maybe.   I hate their nasty product.

This movie was a simple story. No special effects, hardly. The dialog simple, but realistic and good.  Not that many twists to the plot. The actors are average looking people.  The movie’s realism was it’s strong point, it was very good.  Many movies I will stop and then start again, because I get a little bored, but not this one.

It makes me wonder what DOES. make a good story?  What makes a good movie or screenplay?  I watch many different movies.  Mexican cinema.  Italian movies, and of course Asian horror films.  Often, a simple story is better than a blood soaked, hi tech, kick ass hero type of movie.

The foreign cinema is just as good, or better than films made right here.  This is surprising. No rubber Godzillas.. no cheap camera work, no tinny music.  I have to use subtitles, but the productions are very slick.  The stories are very good, some of them.  The Italian cinematography is very good, even in the old flicks from the 60’s.

Winter’s Bone reminds me of some of the realities in America.