Interview with Reduced Shakespeare Company

I probably didn’t post this link last year, when the event happened. I was pretty out-to-lunch last year for a lot of reasons, and many simple things and deadlines fell through the cracks.

Anyway, below is the link to a very good conversation I had with my friend Austin Tichenor, one of the brains behind the Reduced Shakespeare Company. We touch on political correctness, of course, and comedy and codpieces and everything that makes life worthwhile. Enjoy!

Episode 499. On Political Correctness

It’s Christmas Again in Top Town

Hello, dear friends. With the Yuletide season upon us once again, I’d like to give you all a little stocking stuffer for your ears. I know it’s also last year’s present, but it’s the thought that counts.

“Have Yourself a Monkey Little Christmas” is a heartwarming Top Town tale, starring Rex Koko, private clown. When Rex is doing his stint ringing a bell on the corner for charity, someone manages to cloat his little red kettle. But who? The answer to that question sends Rex on an adventure involving a sick friend, 20 or so uncontrollable monkeys, and a miserly landlord who needs a lesson in Christmas charity. Brought to you by Ludwig Coal Company, “the kind Mother used to burn.”

I’ve also reposted the special edition e-book of the story at Amazon. It’s only 99c, and ALL the proceeds will go to the American Red Cross. You KNOW you want it, just to complete your whole Rex Koko set.

For the electronic story from Amazon, click here.

New Podcast Episode!

Thanks for being patient out there, all you kinkers and kinkettes. I’ve finally finished recording and mixing the latest chapter in the Honk Honk, My Darling podcast. This is Chapter 17, “Betting Against the House”, which involves a dangerous, high-stakes poker game that our hero foolheartedly decides to bust into. (Fight scenes take a long time to mix, you know, and I had seven different characters to record. Not that I want to make excuses, but I’m also busy writing a real, all-new Rex book right now.)

So in your travels this holiday, skip the light classical or Michael Bolton tunes on your iPod. They won’t calm you down anyway. Curl up with some Top Town adventures with Rex Koko! Subscribe to the whole she-bang at iTunes if you haven’t already. Just six more episodes to go!

This episode is brought to you by SINK BOMB! Blasting kitchen germs and odor to KINGDOM COME!

Latest Podcast for Clowns and Exotic Dancers

After a too-long absence, here is the latest podcast of Honk Honk, My Darling. Chapter 16, “The Wild Widow”, is brought to you by Triple Crown Gelatin, “the thoroughbred of desserts”.

You’ll notice many different characters in this episode, all female. While I did try to handle ALL the voices in this book, here I got some help from the fabulous Mary Dixon of WXRT-FM in Chicago. She plays Boots Carlozo in the series, as well as “Big Jill” and “Stripper #2”.

You can listen to this episode below or download it directly from the LibSyn Page right cheer.

New “HHMD” Podcast Now Broadcasting!

Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America (as well as Mr. and Ms. America, Mr. America and Ms. Caldwell-America, and Mr. and Mr. America in 7 states and the District of Columbia), and all ships at sea:

The new podcast for “HONK HONK, MY DARLING: A REX KOKO, PRIVATE CLOWN MYSTERY” is now uploaded. This episode is brought to you by Shakespeare Lard, the Bard’s Lard. You can listen to it below, or download it from this LibSyn webpage.

“Honk Honk, My Darling!” New Podcast for You Pod People!

At last! Will wonders never cease!? The time has come! I’ve finally gotten my act together, and recorded and mixed the latest audio installment of Honk Honk, My Darling!

This chapter was daunting because it had a lot of fisticuffs in it, and all those little sound effects and timing gave me a little hesitation. Also, as I get a little more proficient at this, the time each one takes grows and grows. I don’t think of myself as an insane perfectionist, but I do want to do things right the first time. This was another reason for the delay: I was becoming more dissatisfied with the sound of the narration. It felt too boxed in, stifling. So I talked to a friend of mine in the audio field, and of course he knew the problem and solution right away. It pays to ask a person who knows.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this chapter. It introduces a new character who will have a big role to play later in the book. Ooops, that’s too much info. Just sit back and enjoy.

New Podcast for Rex Koko!

Hello there, fans of old-time radio. It feels like forever since I recorded and mixed a podcast for “Honk Honk, My Darling”, and I’m very sorry for it. After I had my hard drive replaced in April, the raw recordings I was making in Audacity kept coming out a little funny, like I was speaking through a paper tube. I tried to fix it with the program settings, and got a little advice from a producer friend of mine (“Try it again”), but still it kept happening.

“How bad could it be?” I asked myself, as I valiantly tried to mix the subpar recordings. “I’ll just tweak the brightness or horizontal hold, use the Noise Remover on every single track, and fake my way through everything. A lot of extra work, but the show must go on. No one would notice the difference anyway, right?”

And then I played the mixes for earlier podcasts, and realized I couldn’t continue until the problem was solved. After a little forum browsing, I tried one recommendation, to turn off the interior microphone driver in Windows. My laptop has no built-in mike anyway, but this setting was messing things up. So, deleted that driver, and woooolah!, problem solved.

So here, after one of the longer cliffhangers in recent memory,is Chapter 13. Brought to you by our friends at Schtuppenfuss Beer, the Deer Camp Beer. It’s Pilsenized!

And to get all the rest of them, go to the podcast page at the Rex Koko website.

We’re halfway there! More thrills and spills to come!

“Honk Honk, My Darling” — Podcast for Chapter 12 Now Up!

For everyone who couldn’t sleep wondering what was going to happen to Rex in the blacksmith shop, now you’ll have the answers. Are the Redd Brothers dumb enough to take on a policeman, even if he is a midget? What does Pinky know about the murders? And what does Rex turn up when he goes digging around in Berndt Bork’s workbench?

All brought to you by Genghis Khan Hair Tonic, the Barbarian’s Choice!

(Sorry this was so late. April flew by, what with spring break, computer meltdowns and other problems. If you enjoy this, please tell your friends and neighbors.)

“Honk Honk, My Darling” — New Podcast Just Podded!

Wow, it has been WAY too long since I put up a new chapter podcast for the book. Big apologies are in order, for those of you who are on the edge of your seat to see what new voices and accents I can mangle while trying to hide my mediocre acting chops.

But if you knew how many hours it took me to mix the last podcast (“Have Yourself a Monkey Little Christmas”, which is now taken down until next December), you’d certainly cut me some slack. By a rough estimation, aside from the actual recording of the episode, it takes at least 1 hour to mix 1 minute of narrative. Add into that my searching the web for just the perfect sound effect, and the time goes up further. Don’t get me wrong, I still love doing this — it’s just a scheduling commitment that I sometimes put off for other things, like paying bills or writing.

So here you go, Chapter 11. I hope you like it. And tell your friends and neighbors about it.

Upright Citizens Brigade Podcasts

The Chicago Reader asked me to submit an item about what “fascinates” me now on the Chicago scene. That was a pretty big lay-on, but I finally realized there’s something I’ve been recommending to people for a while: The Bear Down Podcast, hosted by my old friend Matt Walsh from LA.

But since that’s not so Chicago-centric, I decided to look into another old friend’s podcast. Improv4Humans is something new from Matt Besser, who like Walsh was a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade. He’s in Los Angeles now too, and you’ve seen him on “Modern Family”, “Raising Hope” and many other shows. But maybe if I put the TWO of them together, that makes it a Chicago event. I remember them back in the day, when they introduced the Bucket of Truth and the Titty Brothers at Theatre of the Bizarre. They have (sort of) grown up.

But I won’t waste time explaining why you should listen to both of these (because you really, really should). Instead, click this link and read the Culture Vulture piece in the Reader.

And if you want to go straight to the podcasts, click below:

The Bear Down Podcast


New Year, New Plans, New Paperback

Hello, all you bips and kinkers. Hope your New Year is still smooth and shiny, still sporting that New Year smell. Things are finally quiet here on the Mezzanine Level, as both my Ever-Lovin’ Wife, Number One Son and The Urchin have all returned to their respective schools. Me? I just return to the four corners of my battered yet resilient psyche.

(I sure hope the WordPress Self-Aggrandizing Filter is still activated.)

I can’t find an overarching theme or topic to string all my thoughts together, so I’ll just toss ’em out here and let them fall where they may.

1. Thank you very much to all my readers and fans out there who scooped up e-copies of all my books. December was my biggest month yet, and I hope that you all enjoyed the various PC stories and the sawdust-and-tinsel epic of Honk Honk My Darling.

2. Thanks also to those of you who downloaded the special Rex podcast, “Have Yourself a Monkey Little Christmas.” I’ve taken that audio file down now, but it will come back later in 2012 as a Christmas treat. I hope the next audio chapter of Honk Honk My Darling will be ready to go by the end of next week. (If you haven’t been listening, it couldn’t be easier to catch up on old episodes. You can subscribe at iTunes or go straight to LibSyn to grab them:

3. My incredibly slow but unstoppable conquest of all media continues, with the release of the paperback edition of Honk Honk, My Darling! Yes! A physical book you can hold in your physical hands! It would’ve been great to have had it ready in December, but we had some snafus uploading it to Amazon’s CreateSpace. But after some tweaks and another round of proofs, it is here, and looking very professional. I didn’t know the art would look so sumptuous when expanded to a paperback format, but I am very very pleased with the result.

Here we see Zippo’s appropriate reaction to the beautifulness of the paperback. (Zippo appears courtesy of Germany’s renowned Circus Roncalli.)

The paperbacks are printed on demand by CreateSpace and are for sale at Amazon for $9.99. They will also be available this Saturday, as the Chicago Writers Association honors the 2011 Book of the Year Winners! At 7 p.m. at Lincoln Square’s wonderful Book Cellar, we’ll be having readings and snacks for everyone, so everyone in Chicagoland, come out and support your local writers! This year’s winners are Christine Sneed, Pamela Ferdinand, Krista August, and yours truly. For more on them and on the awards in general, head to the CWA blog.

4. For those who want the whole five-cent background on me and the evolution of Rex Koko, check out the interview on the CWA Blog.

“Merry Christmas, Ya Hairy Devils”

Life around the compound has been crazy-busy, which I’m sure everyone out there can relate to, so I’d like to take the time to wish the readers of this blog a safe and lovely holiday and a prosperous New Year. I suspect that everyone out there has had just about enough of 2011 and will spend the time off quietly regrouping and refreshing their souls. At least, I sure hope so. Real life will start cranking back up soon enough. Enjoy some drinks with family and friends, catch up on your Tivo or Netflix queue, take stock of what you value in your life and choose some things to leave behind on the trash heap. You deserve it, and you can’t really move forward without it.

I’d like to thank those of you who’ve helped me out this year, by buying my books, listening to the podcast, and generally keeping my name out in the public mind. I’d like to buy you all a drink and some Beer Nuts, but something else will have to do. So, below is the link for a genyooine unpublished Christmas story, starring Top Town’s favorite bigshoe, Rex Koko. It’s got everything: thievery, tightwaddedness, fraud, deception, and a happy ending. And lots and lots of Yuletide Monkeys. If you listen to the whole thing (less than 20 minutes), you’ll understand the title of this post.

So please enjoy this. Take time to enjoy life this next week, strengthen your heart and friendships, enrich your life in whatever way you can think of. Tis the season, pally.

2012 UPDATE: I’ve taken down the MP3 until next December, when you will all be able to listen to it again and make it part of your holiday traditions. No sense turning it into “It’s a Wonderful Life”, which used to appear on every TV channel at year-end because its copyright had lapsed.

New Podcast Episode Now Up!

Here’s the recording for Chapter 10 of Honk Honk, My Darling, in which Rex finally meets the woman he’s been searching for, and almost starts a food fight.

Featuring the dramatic debut of Mary Dixon, siren of the morning news at WXRT-FM.

Brought to you by the Hindenberk Car Company.

(If you’d like to download the MP3 and play it elsewhere, just subscribe at iTunes or go to

“Honk Honk” Podcast, Chapter 9

For all you eager kinkers out there, here is the latest podcast from Honk Honk, My Darling, featuring an appearance by my darling daughter as a sassy street urchin. Hope you enjoy.

If you DO enjoy, try leaving a comment in the iTunes store, because that will give it a little more momentum in their rankings.

And tell your friends, leave a review on Amazon, and join the “Honk Honk, My Darling” Facebook page. All these things add up. You want the circus to come back again next year, don’t you?