Instructional Manual (April/May 2018)

aprile 2018 update 2c

 

Basic information for various sites for this series and how to use them to comment on episodes; this is mainly in the direction of the url      https://thepitofultimatedarkshadows.wordpress.com/

Plenty of guidance in how to use these sites. Welcoming if a listener only wants to focus on a single character, fandom or cameo.

Old internet rules for The Pit Crew. What makes me happiest: Commentary. Examples: My reading of Tito’s commentary for “Episode 5: Saving Pop” and Lisa’s commentary for “Episode 15: A Blundering Succubus”. Some examination of Willie and Sarah’s interactions, as well as Maggie merging her memories together.

Discussion of the “Dark Shadows” movie and Lisa’s wonderful reaction to that, and how I altered my offering to introducing more people to the series when it became more easily available. Social media, where it comes from, and how complaining about the people in areas that it comes from is paradoxical to our current social behaviour. (If one hates people on the West Coast, how is it applicable to use the addictive social tools they build to complain about them?)

How critiquing once had socially redeeming value and then degenerated into “bash-culture”, which is, ultimately, bad for your health. Pen pal information for L.W.A. and how Hidden Object and I maintained our friendship. The importance of correspondence. Our natural reactions to light and movement.

My struggle against social media addiction and the rewarding results. Helping a new fan of Dark Shadows and sending DVDs to her of the original series while comparing what she already knew. Consideration of villains and how they blend in to the storytelling. The importance of villains in stories, basic and complicated concepts. News about Auntie, too. How, oddly in this age, letter-writing is managing better than solely using the internet.


podomatic link here

podbay link here

archive dot org link here

Also available on iTunes


 

Lyrics for our pen friends in this project:

Celebrate the pale dawn, celebrate the birdsong,
Celebrate, this is your time,
Although we live in the wreckage and on the faultlines.

And everything we own is not everything we are,
With every word we breathe, we live, we live again.

Celebrate, there is no fear now,
There is no fear now for us to feel.
Celebrate, there is no fear now,
There is no fear now for us to feel,
For us to feel.

 

(The London) Suede “Faultlines”

Advertisements

Pit Update: February 2018

2018 Feb Update1a

 


News to pen friends and from pen friends.

Being in touch with “Auntie”. Reasons why DS Fandom went downhill during the onset of social media.

A short-list of online locations that became dead-ends for chat on “The Pit” show.

Uplifting commentary from current pen friends for Pit episodes, as well as great love for The Pit’s Q & A. 🙂

The Generation Gap implosion in recent years.

Sam and Maggie Evans as the best father-daughter combination on television. How there is so much to work with via Maggie and Barnabas’ relationship.

Farcical ideas for a Pit of Ultimate Dark Shadows convention. (Idle, dry dreams!)

Descriptions of great pen pals that came forward due to The Pit and for far bigger reasons than any fandom involved.

Awesome stuff with Lisa and Melissa, and new ideas for Pit # 18 and # 19.

Wrapping up this show with a familiar song from podcast # 7 for a wonderful reason.

Theme songs for this show: “Doctorin’ the Tardis [12″]” by The Timelords and “Reach For The Sky” by Social Distortion.

Mail art for this podcast cover-image created by a lovely pen pal named Jason.


 

podomatic link here

podbay link here

archive dot org link here

Also available on iTunes

 


 

Lyrics for our pen friends in this project:

Yesterday is history,
And tomorrow’s a mystery,
But being here right now,
It’s just about you and me.

You can run, you can hide,
Just like Bonnie and Clyde,
Reach for the sky,
Ain’t never gonna die.

And I thank the Lord for the love that I have found,
And hold you tight ’cause tomorrow,
May never come!

Reach for the sky ’cause tomorrow,
May never come,
Reach for the sky ’cause tomorrow,
May never come…

 

 

 

The Long Road Out of Facebook: Part One

[Much of this entry has come into being due to an old friendship hopefully renewed by postal mail after it was destroyed by Facebook and brain-hacking. Please bear that in mind.]


Dearest Friend,

Apology accepted! I wanted to hear from you but just not on Facebook was all. We did pretty well on that network until it became the status-quo *to* be on it. This is going to take a long time to explain so I’ll spend a day working on it and trying to devise the best way to explain to you what happened to all of us.

For my part, I take the stance of a wise character I love, “I’m just sorry it happened at all!”

This isn’t the 21st Century we were hoping for, is it?

I don’t consider myself the biggest fan of speculative or science-fiction, but wow. I’m glad I had that training to see so many warning signs so quickly.

The worst result is that each individual became part of a collective of Those To Whom The Rule Does Not Apply:

“Other people are addicted to social media, but not me.”

“Other people are behaving worse than they ever did, but not me.”

“Don’t let *those people* get you down… even though I happen to be one of them and don’t seem to realize that.”

Phew, this gets rather endless… and I recall all of these folks including those confirming to me, “Something IS wrong, and no doubt about it.”

Hence we are all to blame.

However, if anyone requires a villain in this mess then Menlo Park is a nice, fat, juicy one. (HQ of Facebook, and a place that gives off the “ewl” response considering the uppity wealth and snob factor coming out of there.) Yes, they like money. Lots and lots of money!

Facebook became this universe where everything was and from which no one could escape. I kept getting invites to pen pals groups there that never worked. I was trying to find other avenues for pen pals outside of Facebook since 2014. During that time I managed to acquire short-lived email pals who hated Facebook and then would ask me if I wanted to connect with them there. This happened frequently.

Heck, I got invites to various spots on Facebook from a cast member of DS in what I have presumed was the hope that whoever was in charge of those zones would be interested and perhaps they could help me with commentary for The Pit. Various groups and people seemed likely. It’s just that we were all using Facebook so this was, inevitably, all buck-passing.

Many people did the same style of invitations. Even my reaching websites outside of Facebook meant going to their Facebook areas instead of having any real one-to-one conversation beyond an email inviting me to their Facebook group.

One party. One company. One party. One company.

Then came the carbon copies. A pen pal of long ago invited me to Ello. Oh-h-h-h, so hopeful, but it was the same crap. Twitter? Slightly different but more or less the same; Marina Sirtis’ experience with Twitter has been a beacon in my life. Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Disqus, Quora… spam, spam, spam. Then there is tumblr, which hails from New York City, as the PCP version in all of this crack-cocaine and meth-amphetamine. (I’m currently looking at Google Plus as the pot-plantation. People get wacky sometimes but usually just lazy and mellow.)

Once upon a time Facebook worked. The news-feed came and everyone was talking and really talking. This is what the carbon copies kept trying to revive: the real thing. Real thought-sharing, real banter, real people getting to know each other or having conversations like they would in person.

One big problem was the like-button came into being a little while later in 2009. (I recently found an email complaining about this from a friend that was sent during 2011.) So when the carbon copies tried to revive the great chat that suddenly came into being from the news-feed they would always add some form of the like-button (+1, upvotes, hearts, etc.) and in that way the carbon copies could never work.

Somehow we all got caught up in this idea that it had worked once and if we just tried hard enough it would work again. That meagre 25% or less of it working meant we might be getting somewhere, when the truth of the matter is we were all fooling ourselves.

Good things come from Facebook, it’s true. But by the same token good things come from Walmart. I desire as little possible from either.

For myself, I kept ranting on Facebook and other carbon copies for people to email, to telephone, anything. I had to become suicidal before a few friends finally telephoned. It should not have had to take that severe a desire. But that is how beholden to the system so many people became. One cast member really worried about me when it got that bad, but… we all went back to Facebook anyway.

I kept looking outside, going inward, praying for “the crazy” to stop. It wouldn’t. I spoke with music, metaphors, my own suffering I wouldn’t normally tell anyone much less a public platform. All anyone could do, other than like-click, was blame something else: alcohol, the project, “those people”, various things that were only increased and enhanced by the social media madness.

Meanwhile, they wouldn’t tell me what they enjoyed in my work, but they would tell me all about who was on Facebook that they hated, or were pissed at and wanted to make fun of, or having my own listeners avoiding the topic of The Pit show while sending me photos, memes, and giving me bullcrap. High School A-Go-Go.


Kay finally broke out and started visiting. Jonah started telephoning again. Tito began to keep in touch better. As for so many others we shared in common or didn’t? They never got back in touch after several phone calls. Many wildly creative and rebellious types seem lost to us forever.

Then, finally, I made an example of myself. *I* would quit somehow.

I started at the end of 2016 and it took me about a year to get unhooked. Truly. “Falling off the wagon” is usually meant for returning to “the demon liquor”. For me “falling off the wagon” became using Facebook. It was harder than quitting smoking or quitting alcohol.

I shot for one week away, and then adding a day to that week the next time around. I didn’t realize I wasn’t getting farther than a week because I was miscounting the length on the calendar. I had to get a Sharpie to count and potently mark that longer duration on the calendar over and over again. Something in my brain had created a distinct need to get Facebook back into my system. I’ve encountered this problem before and with nicotine especially.

Somewhere in this struggle to get away, Clover and Jonah began visiting and somehow they got back together. Almost every weekend they stay over. One night I asked how it came to be. The answer wasn’t forth coming until I added, “Because there isn’t anyone else to hang out with, huh?”

Clover answered, with a sigh, “Yep!”

In about six months I managed to reach two weeks away from Facebook at a time.

Interpals and other pen pal websites became my “methadone” for want of another word. Even people there were trying to break-free but losing the ability to understand how. On Interpals it was worse due to all the creeps or just people locked into the message system there, going stir-crazy complaining about how horrible the world and the people in it became.

Impostors showed up to follow me on wordpress and I would go to their useless blogs and scream obscenities at them, telling them to go back to Facebook. Doofus people with real web-logging skills would follow mine and I would politely inquire why, never hearing from them after that. I learned how to bump them off the follow-list and remove the like-stamp from my web-log, THANK GOD!

Meetup can be very up and down in solid commitments from people. Plainly put, we all expect the automatic systems to bring us company, but it’s a human being using the personal touch to others on Meetup that really works.

Did you hear the March Update 2017? I mentioned calling an Auntie who once had her own radio show. It was, indeed, her who said, “Yeah… I’m getting more alone than even I like to be.” She also admitted in that phone call, “Yes, social networks can definitely be addictive.” I’ve called her multiple times in the last year. She’s only mentioned Twitter once. (More about her later.)

Then the slow change began. I found some pen pals on the various sites, but they’d either “google” me and run-away-screaming, or get locked into only using the messaging system on those sites. Somehow real letter-writing terrified them even if they’d done it years before. I managed a new pal through L.W.A. even as I’d kept tight hold to Hidden Object who was enduring worse losses than I was via Facebook. I managed a hook-up from something called Geek Girls as well. Only one pen pal but it was a start. PPW finally granted me two long-term buddies who wanted to help with The Pit project and also wanted real correspondence and friendship.

After finding and subscribing to three more pen pal organizations with even better activity, I let the more terrified types, who were afraid to do real letters again, know about these organizations.

Of course, there were pen pals who did the same thing to me as the online crowd had done with The Pit:

  • Heading for the hills.
  • Downloading voraciously and avoiding the topic while still wanting to be pen pals
  • “Googling” me and getting paranoid.
  • Buck-passing to others.
  • Badly attempting to critique and suggest changes to episodes that are four years old, etc.

There is also a trend of “Desperate For DS” types who finally gain access to what I have, overcoming their computer-challenged barriers with my help, and? I never hear from them again either! We paid to have an advertisement put in a letter-writing zine and the same thing occurred. Not one letter, but massive downloads after the issue came out.

Honey, you could do a show about breakfast cereal, put the DS name on it and they wouldn’t care! They would eat it up as long as that shadowy name is bestowed. It is little wonder so many haters and hosers get recognition when they use it.

But, overall the world of real letter-writers maintained a sense of sanity. I even got good, clean, honest rejections for The Pit, with no creepy downloads from their areas later. I needed those honest rejections. Other “rejections” I’d gotten were bonafide lies with the bonus disturbance of online stalking.

The good rejections I got:

“I think I’m the wrong person to send this to. I’ll send it back.” (She didn’t, but whatever…)

“Oh, dear. This involves thinking and I’m retired and ready to just settle down for the simple.” (We still write short letters back and forth. She’s really into gem stones, big dogs and detective novels.)

“So, I listened to your first episode and it’s not really my thing… I didn’t know a lot of the characters and it was really hard for me to keep track of who people were. I did love Shake, Rattle & Roll as the end song. Good choice! And I forget his name, but you did a great impression of The Kids In The Hall guy!” (We also still write to each other.) 🙂

Also there is a fair amount of, “I’m sorry I haven’t gotten to your disk yet!” to which I say, “Keep writing and take your time. They aren’t being created quickly these days.”

With everything though there are just enough now by email and paper post that are happy to keep me company whether or not I run out of episodes, fun suggestions I don’t have to take seriously, and shared interest or just shared comradeship of hating what social networks did to all of us. Our woes are not isolated.


The social network and smartphone take-over touches people who never got an account or device of any kind.

From pen pals I hear about:

Family members, who weren’t all that great before, increasing their hostile and money grubbing attributes.

Educators who don’t answer questions and repeat, “Google it,” like a broken-record.

Kids are taking their parents to work interviews because they really weren’t raised to deal with person-to-person encounters.

People in their teens and twenties will rely on text-messaging rather than making a phone call because, “I don’t like the sound of my voice.”

My middle-brother has confessed to Mum, “Yeah, I’m addicted to Facebook,” just as a statement.

My sister, who does a bit better in life, has established, “I don’t have the time to waste on that thing!”

Mum and I never connected on Facebook for the purpose it would mar our relationship. She isn’t too happy having used it just to discover what my middle-brother is wasting his time posting of degrading content. My older-brother’s failing health and her own needs keep her busy enough.

There’s tons and tons I could tell of who has behaved outside of their norm in extreme ways, but for now I think this general explanation is more than enough. We’re all to blame, and it took an episode of “60 Minutes” (April 2017) to finally allow many of us reassurance of what we knew all along. Hey… “60 Minutes” can do a spot about the problem at this point. Why not? All these computer programmer mortgages have likely been paid by now, right?


Thankfully last Autumn brought something exceptional. I reached to a three-week mark of using Facebook. Just one weekend every three weeks. Even better, I reached that date on the calendar to use it and didn’t. I didn’t want to. I didn’t touch tumblr, I didn’t touch Facebook.

I began feeling like I did in 2013, but with the gift of no anhedonia, no frigidity and no panic. My privacy and contentment at home were more important. Using Facebook would be rewarding any admirers I have that their use of it would get them more of me. That would be me being the enabler I’ve unknowingly been for so many years. And what good would it do to reward people to be that lazy and addicted? None whatever.

Anyway, that’s part one of the long road out of Facebook. The Pit was never the problem. If anything it’s been the saving grace to keep me determined to find out what really was wrong.

The problem was what was happening to people when I was getting my groove back. I wouldn’t have noticed because I wasn’t using social networks much. In between looking for Vincent Price goodies, I was busy making audio books, creating The Pit, watching TV, listening to demos, reading books and learning as I’d always yearned my entire life. In the physical world I wasn’t seeing what was happening in the land of the “Crackberry” or the iPad.

Some fandom stuff made the original readers not type reactions to the old script I had shared, but moreover it was the correspondence skills dwindling, the addictive algorithms of social networks, and the day-to-day challenges being depleted by smartphones which has been what was wrong with everything all of this time.

Yes! For this grief? I left a good job in vision therapy to follow a dream. It was time to resign, but still…

The social media addiction also set off an allergic reaction so that people weren’t getting the social stimulus they needed and they became more and more angry, stalking and trolling writers of all types they didn’t like in a manner that was craving any social interaction even if it was negative. For whatever positive types of people were left, getting hypnotized by happy-buttons and laziness meant they weren’t providing the encouragement to others that they once did.

“Oh, don’t worry. This Nazi idea is just a phase. It’ll pass.” Ahem!

One day, about a year ago, a friend of mine started his shift at his place of employment. Upon his arrival a co-worker told him, “Hey, you missed it. Mark Zuckerberg was in here an hour ago.”

“Oh?” my friend inquired, “Did you ask him how it feels to have destroyed society?”

That made me feel better, I tell ya.


 

I do not believe any old friendships can pick up where they left off. Large groups of people like to pretend nothing happened, or blame someone else to feel better. This isn’t a situation where that is going to work. We claimed to want to keep in touch and suddenly were fighting with each other most of the time, or sending happy stickers and dumb photos to excess. Promoting approval with a thumb in the air will be leaving us with a sour repose; as well it ought to do.

And it was all “free”, right? We didn’t have to pay for a service. We just had to have the right equipment, the wifi, the electricity, and the money to make the monthly payments to have it all and watch our world fall apart on a screen, involving living people this time, rather than fictional characters we had real feelings for.

Try again. We did pay for it: in time, money and in grief. I have yet to hear a single individual boisterously admit that these things have made their lives inordinately better and happier. With a little self-consciousness, they look for a silver-lining though, trying to find the smallest drop of bliss amongst the wreckage. I think that reveals a great deal.


 

Until next time, I hope these instructions have helped you understand the new addictions if you want to quit. I’ll have more to tell later. In the meanwhile I’ve got letters to write, a life to live and spooky families to take care of in a little place called Collinsport, with the help of Cemetery Lane, Schooner Bay, Mockingbird Heights, Morning Glory Circle, and our guests at Hill House.

Pleasant dreams. ❤

A Relieving Return to Script-Writing

That title looks grand doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it be nice to believe that all our troubles were over? Alas, there are wounds. I have photo albums filled with once marvellous friends and relations that I may never hear from again due to them having sold their souls to device technology and social media. Wounds as such cannot fade. Time can heal but this grief is an entirely new phenomenon. The uncertainty of repair is staggering and loud. The change in human behaviour to something so close to the docile Eloi of “The Time Machine” is horrific.

Good people come forward, though. They are new friends and companions, people fed-up with what’s happened. We share this bond with each other. My woes are their woes. There is still that little denial of, “It’s not so bad,” but that denial has receded greatly in this year, 2017. We know it is all very, very bad, indeed.

And yet… shades of delightful 20th Century habits come back to us. Selecting real books to enjoy, real albums to play, true conversation in person and on paper. Recipes to cook, scrubbing to be done. Dishes to be washed. Clothing to be picked out for the weather of the week to come. The seasons remind us that we are of The Earth and of The Heavens.


 

As I sit at my desk and stare into Morning Glory Circle on Bewitched, with two characters from Maine about to knock upon The Stephens door, a wonderful thing finally occurs: The characters let me know what they likely would say to each other. Samantha Stephens is being introduced to Sam Evans of Collinsport and Captain Daniel Gregg of Schooner Bay, at long last.

Samantha

It isn’t coming out as I expected either! I predicted it would get very silly, and Endora’s arrival might have Captain Gregg hiding behind Sam in fear. The thing is Captain Gregg doesn’t really behave that way when set in motion to face a potential adversary, even if that adversary has put him through dire straits as Endora did previously in The Pit of Ultimate Dark Shadows. And so far Samantha hasn’t scolded Endora for what she did, but I feel that ought to be in there somewhere, really. (Besides, I am itching to do an Elizabeth Montgomery impression of, “Mother!”)

A book on sea-faring language, that Osheen once suggested, has come in quite handy. I had a little trouble with what Gregg would say until I opened that up. I still have to determine where Tabitha might be, but I notice they don’t always worry about that on Bewitched so maybe it doesn’t matter. (This is a rough-draft, afterall.)

Looking at the word count now I still have plenty of room. Scenes are already mapped out for Chris Jennings, Amy Jennings, Hoffman, Stokes, and later on it appears that bypassing Mr. Wells death and allowing him to live will be easier than I thought. In fact, I found him barricading the door for Chris rather than simply locking it from the outside. After The Blairs staying in Room 13? Mr. Wells is done with being curious about noise. He just wants there not to be any.

 

Vic and Mor 1

That leaves us in wondering what to do with The Addams Family, Victoria Winters and Peter Bradford. Some ideas are there. I’ve made a list of pastimes The Addams Family engage in and I must say, it’s longer than the list of odd recipes they’ve mentioned.

I know that for Victoria there will be further exercises in her powers, but that doesn’t mean she can’t just enjoy herself in a new home she’s almost gotten used to. An interest in history is even there if Wednesday’s dolls have anything to do with it. I smell a rapport happening between those two.

The main thing is finding the discussion between Victoria, Peter and The Addams Family. There is a slice-of-life element to The Addams Family that I didn’t notice before, but it was the more Gothic type I’d been rather wanting for so long. Having a problem to solve needn’t be necessary at all. It’s a staple of television shows but The Addams Family always operate so differently. A great deal of the show itself is often hanging out or goofing off. Whatever problems that come usually take a long time to be solved as they are so busy with all of their hobbies, pets, and basic housekeeping.

So far The Pit scenes I have for The Addams Family have been quite reflective. There was the great cliff-hanger in Episode 13 with, “We need you, Grandmama. It’s Victoria! …She has the gift!” And that got identified in Episode 15 with spell work, as Grandmama stared aghast at Reverend Trask’s stark image via Victoria’s memories projected on vapour. It mayn’t have been due to Grandmama having any aversion to a widow’s peak hairstyle, but the severity of Trask’s widow’s peak can rather blow all of our minds, can’t it?

For Episode 18 I am doubtful any new spell work with Victoria will take place. Perhaps some chat of doing more whilst playing a game of some kind. I still haven’t gotten a spot where Peter is enjoying the delights of Gomez and his trains. There is also Peter Bradford being Peter Bradford in official documents. With either man having practised law, however antiquated like Peter, or out-of-step like Gomez, I’m sure they could devise some method in which they fulfil that requirement neatly enough.

But will Victoria take the name of Bradford? Not yet. I wager she will eventually after discovering enough about her own history and her parents. But she started this life as a Winters and shall continue being one for sometime, married or not.


 

Still, I remain puzzled at what happened with Dark Shadows fans for so many decades that they wanted more horror, twisted troubles, and bizarre romantic pairings in the fanfiction all this time. Were libraries with bummer books and ghastly stories always out of reach? Did the wealth of horror movies not suffice? Perhaps it was a lack of having the program to enjoy that made them want to write down what happened so they could enjoy it that way, and then got caught up in altering it in random directions? Did Roger Corman’s films have anything to do with it?

I’m fine with creativity,  or getting wacky, heck, after I watched “200 Motels” a la Frank Zappa? It was pretty clear anything goes in some areas of entertainment. But Dark Shadows is huge on its own. So huge I’m not sure I’d want to repeat the entire thing over and over again. So with the fanwork I have to wonder if something happened to these fans. Too many drugs in the 1970’s? Sadness that the show ended and re-runs were unheard of at the time? Bafflement at Sam Hall’s wrap-up? (I just listened to Roger Davis read it and shrugged, myself.) I can’t imagine that life was so comfortable that they were in want of more drama. The puzzle remains for me.

 


 

As time goes on, I do want to do more for our Old House couple and family in the pages of “Margaret Josette Dupres”. But discussion of it is necessary and the practice of discussion itself is low. There is only so much I can do for Barnabas and Maggie’s marriage details as it’s based on Dark Shadows which is finished, and The Pit of Ultimate Dark Shadows which is not.

When a waitress is on holiday might Maggie fill in at The Coffee Shop just for kicks? Sarah and Caleb as children shan’t be a thorn-free bed of roses. Caleb has become a witch’s son after all. Will Barnabas finally get comfortable with being a vampire who is less affected by sunlight? (I have my doubts.) The only surety is the love never fades. What to do on a daily basis with that love? That’s the question. ❤

Of course, as has been very usual, people will listen to me asking for the discussion on the novel during the podcasts, or read this log entry where I explain the practicality of discussion, and rather than send an email or telephone me about it? They will blink and wonder why no one else is doing so. Time has become less of a worry with this new technology. What has really been lost with it is the art of conversation.

Cat’s got your tongue, as they say.

Looks like this time, she’s kept it, too. 😉

Why Bashing Doesn’t Work

Now that much of the online hokum due to bizarro fans I never wanted to deal with has been relieved by pen pals who give a darn, I’m finding simple reflections in things I dearly missed. A breeze, a delightful flower, the simple odour of pines, the feel of paper and a cosy outfit.

And I have to giggle at statistical weirdness. I swear to Zeus, people straggle through, find The Pit script, skip the lot, go straight to the last episode and likely are as baffled as when they started. We’re on 16, it’s a cliffhanger, there is NO wrap up currently to this show! Doi!

I’ve lived through a lotta weird decades, but this one has to be the stupidest I’ve encountered. I’ve heard the 1950’s were pretty dumb from people who lived during it, baring a few beatniks, I guess. I’m trying to imagine it in comparison to these 2010’s. There was sure a ton of products to dazzle, wanting people to lavishly spend like crazy after WWII and keep the money flowing which would maintain our removal from what happened during The Great Depression (hence we have planned obsolescence and stuff that breaks more often so we have to re buy it). But the depth of dopiness doesn’t feel like it was quite so rampant as it is now.

Maybe it was the Establishment vibe that made the 1950’s run differently. This 2010’s decade is flopping all over the place. It dares to be different except you are only allowed to be different through the New Establishment of constantly being connected online. Rather than being shunned for not upholding the status-quo of online connection? You just go unseen and more or less wiped from people’s own memories. It’s a bit like the disappearance of Tony Peterson on Dark Shadows. Things with him and Carolyn were fine, he just kinda didn’t show up anymore.

I have had some good chats with fed-up companions who only briefly tried Facebook. Sudden contact with so many people they hadn’t heard from in decades, and weren’t really that close to at all, “Now they’re all up in my business! Wanting me to look at crap, wanting me to click things that don’t pertain to either of us. After three months? I was done! Bleh!”

Another nice lady was good enough to express a two-day yuck of even trying to understand the point of the social network. “I kept looking and I just had to get as far away as I could!” she explained, in a physical gesture of removing herself from the table where we were having our dinner.

I really do remember when television did some crappy things to people. They’d get all into a favourite movie airing after a hard day at work and someone would need a lift by car. The joy sank out of their grasp as they went to deal with it. We know it’s the honourable thing to do to help a person in need, but that needy person is now tainted with the association of missing out on the company of fictional characters that warm the heart more than living people do. That was the old world.

This new world is scattered with indecision, distraction, and abundance of overwhelming choices far worse than cable or satellite television could provide. It’s also indoctrinated with a TV-screen version of friendship, hygienic connection to people we once knew or have never met in person. It is so hygienic and sporadic that it stifles the flow of natural mood, aggravates the senses, removes facial recognition and tone of voice, all while the eyes are constantly staring at artificial light. “Relaxing” reading is done by tablet, again we’re staring at artificial light. (My own preference is for the paper-screen e reader, by the way.)

Rather than seeing a person you know and starting up a conversation, lights and boxes pop out. Jingles and alarming noises zing in the air. What could be gleaned easier in person is covered entirely with gadgetry.  Then? Paranoia sets in, “How honest is this person being with me?”

How are you to know, eh?

The wealth of human details are cut away from the conversation. Even a personal thing like handwriting doesn’t show in prefabricated textual lettering. Tech wizards always claim that these things will improve with more tinkering. Really? After social media do you think we’re going to trust what tech wizards tell us?

Reminds me of a favourite line in The Golden Girls when Rose confesses they didn’t have a television set in her household because someone felt, “It hadn’t been perfected yet.”

I used to believe my childhood and teen years were so horrendous, and in light of the severe ostracising and constant discouragement to do anything productive, while also being picked-on for not being productive (?????) it is true. However, I’m reconsidering some of the basics like yelling matches and getting fisticuffs with other kids, sometimes out of anger, sometimes from self-defence. I’m not sure this current generation has that much of that. And all that energy and loneliness just wells up inside them so there is this need to bash and be insulting to get it out because it is the only option that’s left! I used to wonder why outdoor sports and competition was considered “healthy”. I think I know now.

But then why get all bent out of shape about Dark Shadows? I’m concerned some of these younger fans don’t understand the format. (And honestly? I’m not too sure the elder fans understand it either.)

I knew other soap-operas. I was very aware of the format going in. Eastenders was probably my favourite. It just got nice and dull, and sometimes I couldn’t understand what the people were even saying anyway. (It confused my sister when she walked in. She knew more British comedy. She was waiting for Eastenders to get funny and… it wasn’t really getting funny. Very perplexing!)

To me soap-operas and their characters were very disposable. I expected Dark Shadows to be nothing more than that. It’s spooky and spooky is my thing. It’s based on old-books which are also my thing. So it’ll be somewhat higher grade but we’ll get some cheesiness from it being so old. We even giggled a ton upon Dr. Woodard’s death with Sam finding him, and his deep and meaningful close-up, staring straight into the camera lens, “Those eyes… what were the last thing they saw to be looking like that?” We kept laughing. We played it again and again and again, “Those eyes… what were the last thing they saw to be looking like that?” Woo! Going for an award, Mr. Ford!

Then there was humour, real humour coming right from Roger Collins about the séance, Carolyn & Buzz making fun of Jason, The Caretaker just on his own with his comical Edward Gorey woefulness. My goodness! This is incredibly entertaining! I didn’t expect that! I can’t binge on this however much I want to. I gotta re-watch that disk! Made for TV movies like “The Beast” (1996)? That was disposable. But this soap-opera isn’t. How the heck did that happen?

So in that light I can see the appeal. But we, as humans, have the need for closure. Loose ends bug us. A good story degrading irritates us. If we get a tear in our sleeve we want to fix it, or replace the whole shirt. That’s why I went searching five years for a relief-series before starting my own. Someone must have created a relief-series by the 21st Century, right?

Sadly most people go for the band-aid manoeuvre. And considering the bumper-sticker length of attention spans these days? That’s about all most people can do at all. It’s applicable to listeners who get angry at my podcast intros. They don’t want the whole picture. They want it in bite sizes. Molly-coddled and babied for years now? What is the result?

“Waaaaaaa!!! Mommy Internet isn’t giving me what I want! Waaaaaaaaaaa!!! This person is trying to make me think! Waaaaaaaa!!! I don’t like thinking! I just want to make fun of Barnabas Collins being sad! Waaaaaaaa!!!”

They want something to scoff at because they’re mostly trained to do nothing but scoff. Rushing around in a hurry for no reason while they long for these olden days and “simpler times”. (You’ll find it in old books, my dears. It isn’t necessarily online.)

I’m speculating the creation of a stigma for this stupidity. We actually had that with the hipper crowds in the 1990’s. Too much television = moron. Books were approved of, but be wary of the author. If it was an easy read or a very popular author you might as well be watching television. The more obscure it was the cooler you looked. Hoopy froods got uppity if someone read things to them, “What? You think I’m too ignorant not to be able to read it myself?!”

This should explain to you why I don’t care about popularity and I have retaliated against online rudeness with some of my own. Growing up we were made to feel the pain of being an idiot. It was the days of Sophia Petrillo Unbound, my friends. But as she likes to say, “It wasn’t pretty,” which means I’ve also got a ton of patience for better people who really do want to learn and be educated.

Curiously, I see some of that stigma might have morphed into this need to be very randomly insulting and rude. Once upon a time that snootiness truly was meant to encourage self-improvement in a twisted way. Like Sophia would tell Rose, “Quit bein’ an idiot!”

I’m not sure how this mutated into the encouragement to be dim-witted and nasty, as this decade is showing, but that appears to be what’s happened. Cruel=Funny=Cool. A sense of “belonging” by shared hates? Doesn’t work. We tried it with the third “Anne of Green Gables” mini-series Kevin Sullivan put out in 2000. We rallied around online to bitch and moan over how non-canon it was. I made a few friends via email. The friendships themselves were short-lived. Why didn’t those friendships last?

We never discussed what we enjoyed about the original book series.

We were angry at Sullivan for taking our beloved characters through disasters that didn’t occur in the books and not giving us the old joys his production crews had managed closely enough to the books with the first two installments. We wanted enjoyment but as one irritated fan said, “This was more like Lara Croft of Green Gables.”

I still chuckle heartily at her hilarious description. But… those friendships didn’t last.

We didn’t share with each other what we did love. We were too fixated on what we hated. No seeds were planted, we cited nothing to grow from, there were no blossoms we were bringing to life. There was nothing to nurture towards each other.

We had only banded together to frown at the dirt.

The “Happy Idea” Pen Pals

 

With the lengthy podcast for June out and being listened to (however little it’s content is properly digested) I have noticed a great number of lurkers wandering over to this site. The statistics lead me to believe many lovers of my work who can’t be arsed to admit it or, maybe, write or phone me, (sorry if I missed your call,) are awaiting further fun goodies. Fun goodies that they are incapable of understanding to begin with so it’s all rather nonsensical.

Meanwhile, what has Daryl been doing? Corresponding like the dickens!

I enjoyed picking up sixteen letters & postcards recently, then setting them on the table during a visit with new friends to announce the old chestnut, “No one writes letters anymore.” We all chuckled merrily over the joke, were awed by the abundance and gushed at the artistry on many of the envelopes.

And this just in from a dear pen friend, “I have to agree on Facebook, it’s a bunch of crap now. I get more forwards now then ever. Not much in the way of actual posts of what some folks have done. So I have pretty much signed off completely… It used to be a cool thing, games, actual talking between people, but now it is such an addicting thing for so many, and that some actually believe that all those people they are ‘friends’ with, are really their friends. But now it’s just a bunch of haters, forwarding stupid forwards, some that make no sense. And the ones I dislike are the ‘answer and repost if you really care.’ And now some bullies have really taken over social media as a whole, and it sucks. Not at all like what I was hoping for, instant message and fun, and it hasn’t been that way in a long time. You’re not missing anything on it, believe me. Just glad I never let it destroy me, like it has for so many.”

Amen!


 

Now onto the point of this log entry…

I received this card in the mail from a pen friend I’ve been in contact with for about a year. Like many pen pals, she is having problems getting people who will consistently write to her. She wonders,

“I always think it’s odd when people sign up for snail mail correspondence and then stop writing. I was really lucky that my first _____ pen pals were yourself and another gal. We all still correspond. The few people afterwards stopped after one letter! So odd! I don’t think anyone has expectations to get a letter every week or something but still… why even sign up to do it?”

To which I have responded:

“As for the deterioration of letter-writing among those who sign up to pen pal? I found more evidence of why during my Facebook Friday: There are two [I will label these as First and Second] strong proponents of pen palling that require a fee for membership, and have Facebook groups only open to paid members. A good idea in theory, yes?
“My use of Facebook induced a struggle in addiction that is extremely like nicotine. I’ve broken the cycle by carefully scheduling my use of it to once every two weeks. (I’m now moving to three weeks.) This took almost a year for me to accomplish.

 
“However, the First pen pal organization with a Facebook group has members who were once writing to me. One, a man who sent me my first quill pen, is active there. He has often promised to write when he notices me and? Never does. I wrote to him recently and he never wrote back. [Pardon this entry if you have just written, my dear!]

 
“The Second also uses Facebook with a few groups. They boast of this on their website and in their newsletters. (Their fees are higher and periodic – as opposed to the First which has a very low one-time fee.)

 
“This encouragement to Facebook greatly demotes the act of letter-writing into the ‘happy idea’ that its Facebook users are engaging effusively in this activity. Facebook posts will ask questions about letter-writing preferences, but… anyone can pretend to know and have preferences about something they once did or never do. That’s easy.

 
“In the end? Many people are signing up for pen pals because it’s a happy or romantic idea for them. The long-term effort doesn’t take hold in reality. In short this is known as living-in-denial. It’s also the reason one can find so much unused stationery in thrift shops.

 

“The ‘happy idea’ pen pals who rarely do it? They like to buy much in the way of supplies for their future hobby. That gives them the tactile proof they will see-it-through. (Similar to when people purchase exercise equipment to lose weight.) They may hold on to masses of stationery for years, but it eventually has to go. It makes very little sense to drop off used stationery to a thrift store, doesn’t it?”


 

Of course the “happy idea” style of people come in all sorts: famous novelist, delightful actor, slim-as-a-rail beauty, voracious reader of books, award-winning architect, and so on. It’s fun to daydream. Daydreams can dismiss a wealth of calendar days and fulfill hours of time. And social media often manages to push people out of reality and far into daydreams. Much like the The Mirror of Erised in the lore of Harry Potter.

The Mirror of Erised is a mirror, which, according to Albus Dumbledore, shows the “deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts.”

Dumbledore warns Harry, “Men have wasted away before it, not knowing if what they have seen is real, or even possible.”

Such is the case I see in social media where once I saw this with television.

In the meantime, between letters and shows, studies and healing (however sour I feel about the state of modern life) I am managing to get a little book reading done, and am currently on Chapter 6 of The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr. It’s helping to explain so very much that is, forthwith, ruining our intelligence, skills, and wisdom.

The Glass Cage

One thing cheering me up as I go are a few pen pals enjoying the show on CD. They never cease thanking me for reaching out to them and sharing it and my company with them.

It is to them I can finally say, “You’re welcome.” ❤

The Pen Pals Are Here (For Real This Time)

Just picked up the mail and I am reveling in the fun of it! My stationery horde is dwindling and I’m discovering people who like to savour The Pit as it was meant to be savoured. Hallelujah!

Today I opened this delightful missive which says, “I’m glad that we’re pen friends! You’re the only pen friend I have who sends murder mystery parties with your letters, and I can attend these parties in my PJs!! Woo hoo!”

She also sent some very fun ticket stickers which read: “Admit One”. I am actually trying to get rid of all my crazy stickers but when I saw hers on the back of her envelope I suddenly desired stickers like that. Then? Inside the envelope she had included eighteen of them for me! It was this way of expressing that my show ought to be sent with those tickets as that signifies the theater feeling The Pit brings. What a bloody JOY! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Another pal drives frequently so the CD version of The Pit episodes are perfect for her long hauls. It’s funny because I often anticipated truckers would enjoy The Pit but I’ve yet to hear from any of them. Hopefully this was never due to Maggie expressing a bit of distaste to Barnabas in Episode 10 with,

coffee shop

“Oh, Barnabas, you’ve obviously never encountered a collection of all-night truck drivers swapping suggestive tales over their greasy breakfast plates.”

But who knows?

There are a few listeners of The Pit who don’t quite pick up the knack of the discussion questions as being guidelines to expressing what they enjoy per scene. That’s okay, though. The method that we once had to express our delight and the fun in our entertainment is very much more the “dying art” than letter-writing ever was or has been.

While it became extremely trendy to Hate-On so much in our abundance, the enjoyment of discussing what we were entertained by took a serious nose-dive when we were offered the alternative thumbs-up buttons. There are now even pesky hearts on youtube and iTunes to degrade our faculties even further. If there was an app for making these happy-buttons disappear I would consider PAYING for it. Monthly! (I already enjoy advertisement blockers on my equipment so I have little idea what kind of scary billboard world a great deal of my online audience is being suffocated with. 😦  )

The other difficulty we currently face is having too much choice. I’m immune to that being difficult as I already pruned my needs in the last twenty years. Even before the internet I had far too much thrown in my direction that I could never understand why I just had to like. Another reason I live on Devo’s “Freedom of Choice” song; All around me are people who really do want “Freedom FROM Choice”. It’s not a matter of a good lead to something they would naturally be interested in, but just floating through life waiting for others to send them in whatever direction another wishes them to go.

That became the worse problem imaginable as my audio entertainment was finally noticed and suddenly I had to see the same style of Dark Shadows fanfiction I was tired of reading and trying to avoid. My work, articles, and podcasts made it extremely clear what my interests and goals were in that department. Then, rather than find the specific niche audience I was looking for, it was the bummer-city, cliché types coming forward with precisely what I spent five years finding and did not enjoy at all. It’s as if most the online world is so flabbergasted with too much information that listening to a person or a fictional character is well-nigh impossible for them to do.

This is why correspondence, and the skill of it, is so important. It slows us down to start digesting information at our own human pace. This works because human beings are what we are, regardless of how desperate we seem to be to become The Borg or The Cybermen instead. It’s also exactly why we attained creations such as The Borg and The Cybermen in our storytelling: It’s a warning of things that could very much happen to us in the future. (Or right now.)

Cybermen_formation_Doomsday
As for Episode 17 in The Pit of Ultimate Dark Shadows, whose current title is “A Bio-Exorcist Comes To Collinwood”, I am working on the audio, yes, but I am also taking my time with the pen pals and letter-writing to heal myself back to being a better person. I’m often thanking each and every individual that I write to for helping me with this, even when they are so grateful to me for giving them the gift of my episodes. For me it’s a shared process and precisely how I always wanted to do all of this. “Go Online” wasn’t the worst option for me, it was the obvious one. But the human touch of going online was losing ground and I didn’t know that. Nobody seemed to know it, but they definitely defended it, that’s for sure. (It’s much easier to be dismissive, isn’t it?)

The audio itself is grueling and my format from doing voice performances back and forth in one go has shifted toward doing each voice separately. Doing that slows down the creation time. But this is a technique that most audio dramas are created by, having each performer in separate cubicles with a script and a headset, so it makes sense to switch to get each character’s voice better. I’m also finding that using a more caricature performance is as important as the accuracy in their speech patterns. The caricature voice differentiates who is speaking more easily so that it’s less likely a listener will lose track of which character is saying what. However, our too-friendly bio-exorcist is pretty damned easy to spot. Ha ha ha!

its showtime
The romance is sparking for our three couples now, Barnabas & Maggie, Tony & Carolyn, and Julia & Eliot. I really love how Elizabeth and Barnabas were running things at this point in the original Dark Shadows, but with Elizabeth on her voyage to England for my show, I’ve had to move away from that and am irked for a solution as to who will invite Amy Jennings to stay at Collinwood, eventually. *sigh* I thought, “Well, I could find some hilarious, sarcastic way that Roger would be encountering her instead and deciding, ‘Why the hell not?’” But that didn’t give me much enthusiasm.

Carolyn and Tony
The great answer came last night… Carolyn & Tony! Or it could just be Carolyn, or heck, Carolyn AND Carolyn, Stoddard & Muir. Who knows? But in any case I finally hit on how to keep Tony Peterson and Carolyn Stoddard’s romance alive: Do exactly what was done before. Have them solve problems together! In The Pit that is what reignited their romance, which is similar in many couples both fictional and real. (That kissing you hear in The Pit for these couples is obviously not me smooching my arm! That is me and my own sweetie. He’s been shy about it, but hey, he’s getting kissed! He’s not going to say no to me for that offer. 😉 )

So, for those who aren’t writing to me on paper or via email, there is a big reason my online activity has dwindled. I have returned to pen pals and am enjoying it immensely.

write a letter cover

No happy-buttons or flinging of links is going to get any of us more of the work and it never did before. Correspondence and discussion about the show(s) is what makes that happen and always did. When I receive insight and feedback from a listener I get to their responses a whole lot faster because this is my passion and my calling. But there are some pen pals who have no interest and that is also fine by me. They keep me company with other interactive details about life in general. That’s healthy and very healing all around. (People writing to me by email, private message, or even postal mail, who love the work but avoid the topic keeps me more at bay with them. This should be a surprise to no one. And really, why would it be?)

I do have a potential “Pit Update April 2017” started but I’m hoping I won’t have to create and release it. I prefer getting to the actual work. And strangely enough it is the quiet discussions of the characters on the demo and in the “editing room” that rivets me more than that fight scene everyone is waiting for! Maggie and Sam with their awesome percolator, Tony and Carolyn going for a drive, Dr. Hoffman and Professor Stokes having a quiet, studious discussion with romance interlaced, while Lily and Elizabeth enjoy the delights of mingling on board the RMS Queen Elizabeth ship. Those happier scenes are what keep me going.

I’m also working on the script for Episode # 18, “Braving The Waters” but that will take more Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Bewitched studying, of course. Chris Jennings may make his first appearance and there is fun already planned for that, similar to on the original Dark Shadows but much more humourous. Hee hee hee! Bill Malloy’s ghost should encounter Lily and Elizabeth. Lily can have tons of fun with Bill. I really like Lily as this cousin to dissuade Elizabeth needing to fear ghosts and the like, and Melissa has told me how wonderful it is for Elizabeth to finally have a girlfriend to pal around with, “She just never had that on the original show. This is really good for her!”

Liz and Lily

When we discussed it over the phone neither of us could quite figure out which of the two of them is “the straight man” in the relationship as that role sort of bounces back and forth between Elizabeth Stoddard and Lily Munster. Elizabeth shrugs at any clues that Lily is a daylight-walking vampire with even odder family members, and Lily doesn’t seem to notice Elizabeth being far more mundane than Munster, since to her Munster is mundane.

pop and magz
Another great thing is keeping Sam Evans alive and stretching out his weird psychic trips from his DS: First Year characteristics into being a reincarnation of Andre du Pres. This helps in the extreme with Maggie Evans processing her own reincarnation experiences.

If they had aimed to pull it off on Dark Shadows, which is what I saw them reaching toward, I’m not sure how Maggie could have handled that on her own. Her father, Sam, is the perfect bolster for that, especially if he’s already going through it himself. So in sorting out the main reason I started all of this, it ends up being a wonderful help in solving a lot of other dilemmas I might have faced if that wasn’t the reason I began.

Willie pensive Wadsworth looking down
My struggles with Willie Loomis have reached that safer harbour with him now as Wadsworth’s presence has helped to calm him down and I am very much looking forward to healing right along with him. His history is a mystery and should mostly remain so as it did on Dark Shadows. The main point with him is growth and learning better battles to pick, even if some are merely with his pen. Now that I have pen pals by snail mail I can practice my own calligraphy a bit more. ❤

As for the marriage novel, I’m still working on the next chapter which will be quite romantic. (And *cough* “adult”.) Their exploration of old memories will drift through, and I might add a card game in it rather than ending it with them planning to play one. It takes a lot out of me to go into Barnabas-mode, but it’s rewarding. As Sam himself mentions the couple in Chapter 22 of the novel, “…driving through the town of Collinsport to get to The Old House, where my daughter now lived with her excessively romantic husband…” He sure is!

I’ve complained he won’t let me write scenery, but the main thing I’ve had to admit to myself is that Barnabas, on his own terms, would hardly write scenery. The scenery he is forever looking at is his loving bride, Maggie, who is Kitty and Josette and herself. There is a lot to look at in a gal like that! (Even Cousin Lily can see the affection there. 😉 )

lily maggie and barnabas
Hopefully that’s updated everyone enough as to the state of things with me. I’m still determined and passionate, but I’m also healing from three years of shock, devastation in friendship loss, watching this science-fiction nightmare made of our lives happen unabated, and all of it being defended by masses of people who can’t bear to blame themselves for being misguided.

Now I get to editing, my letters, corresponding with new friends, and racing to the door when my sweetheart comes home. Then I look at my wine bottle and, after three years, I am finally able to say, “I don’t need that tonight. I’ll finish it tomorrow.”

love,

                                                                                           Daryl

P.S. If some of you out there, as several pen pals have expressed, mainly know Dark Shadows from the 2012 film of it and therefore believe I must automatically “hate” you? No. I don’t. It just got trendy to hate that film like a whole lot else got trendy to hate.

Hate became a disease online as it garnered attention. It’s a junior-high and high-school condition, and can also happen with spoiled louts in college. Whatever occurs to cause that; it’s a phase and a fad. I love the 2012 film, actually. I love a lot things that get a lot of hate. I always have, so I don’t worry about it. ❤