Some of the readers of this site will know that this story is the original piece of material behind Candlelight Stories. Back in 1994, I sat at a very flimsy folding table in a Los Angeles apartment with a box of pastels, crayons and ballpoint pens to scratch out a pile of illustrations that vaguely added up to some kind of Christmas tale. I still have all those original drawings in a big department store box. The interesting thing about the illustrations for me is the series of actions that they caused which led me directly into the various skills and technologies that I have used and made a living from ever since. After finishing the illustrations and creating a large bound book to give as a Christmas gift, I scanned the pictures and decided to try to put them into a slide show. I had an early version of the Mosaic web browser and soon realized that I could use my AOL account to post things in a folder that could be accessed by the web browser. Having done that and been very impressed with myself I showed it to my non-technical friends and received some half-hearted congratulations and was asked how I could ever hope to make any money that way. Within a few months I received a letter in the actual mail from the USA Today newspaper requesting permission to put an illustration and a web link in a listing of good things on the web. So I said they could and they printed their thing. So I began to add new things to the web site as I could.
It’s pretty much the same today. You just make a little thing and stick it on the web to see who likes it. But back then it was a little like magic. My web experiment grew quickly and when the higher-speed DSL technology first came into Los Angeles I jumped on it and got myself a Digital Alpha server and put it at the end of a DSL line in my own home to serve the web site. According to the company which was the first one up and running in L.A., I was the first person to attempt running a web server over the DSL technology in Southern California! They gave me totally free ISP service for several years in exchange for a little advertising. I’d actually have late night conversations with their engineers – sometimes from their cars as they made their way to hubs and switches in the dead of night to fix something. Imagine that kind of technical support today with your blog host! Won’t happen! This all worked well for a time. But then the DSL technology began to fail and I quickly realized it was a dead-end technology with too many players involved on the back end who could not adequately maintain the service without blaming each other for failures. But my point is that during that time, with that kind of approach, one could really get a sense of being visited by the world. I could watch the lights blink as people came onto the server to visit. There were times, during serious outages of some sort or other, when I’d throw the big Alpha server into my car and drive it to some other location for a temporary connection. Amazing. Fun.
It’s still fun today. That’s why I still post this odd little story every Christmas. It’s the original first thing of this site.
C Merry has created an epic rambling fairy tale that weaves her own modern perspective through the classic stories that children have been familiar with for centuries. The result is both humorous and unsettling. C Merry combines these tales with mythology and Christmas to explain things that have been long forgotten. It’s a beautiful way to start the holidays. You’ll find out that the Pied Piper had money troubles and was working out of his van. Santa Clawz is a wormhole-travelling wildman who began the holiday tradition of sneaking into houses to counteract the effects of war. Instead of dropping bombs, he dropped gifts. He was also descended from grizzly bears.
The story unfolds over a series of partially animated illustrations that are gorgeously detailed, showing squiggly pen lines inside every detail. These pictures are backed by a dense and mysterious soundscape.
What C Merry seems to be doing is connected the world’s most charming tales for children to the much deeper and darker subterranean world of mythology. It works. She has created a mystical world of danger and beauty.
You can also read the entire illustrated tale at the author’s blog.
Some of the readers of this site will know that this story is the original piece of material behind Candlelight Stories. Back in 1994, I sat at a very flimsy folding table in a Los Angeles apartment with a box of pastels, crayons and ballpoint pens to scratch out a pile of illustrations that vaguely added up to some kind of Christmas tale. I still have all those original drawings in a big department store box. Continue reading …
IN days of yore and in times and tides long gone before, there dwelt in a certain town of Persia two brothers, one named Kasim and the other Ali Baba, who at their father’s demise had divided the little wealth he had left to them with equitable division, and had lost no time in wasting and spending it all. The elder, however, presently took to himself a wife, the daughter of an opulent merchant, so that when his father-in-law fared to the mercy of Almighty Allah, he became owner of a large shop filled with rare goods and costly wares and of a storehouse stocked with precious stuffs, likewise of much gold that was buried in the ground. Thus was he known throughout the city as a substantial man. But the woman whom Ali Baba had married was poor and needy. They lived, therefore, in a mean hovel, and Ali Baba eked out a scanty livelihood by the sale of fuel which he daily collected in the jungle and carried about the town to the bazaar upon his three asses.
What we have here is an enormous tale of medieval chivalry, dragon lore, heraldry, round-tableness, and the insane goings-on of knights and their goonish glory. The magnificent squad of funny men behind these tales of audio craziness call themselves The Hazardous Players. Their ongoing comic production is a series of tales called Knighttime, which follows the lunatic adventures of Sirs Cottington and Bratwurst through the kingdom of Udenland.
Give a listen to the first episode, called The Problem in Pimpleton – Act I:
The audio stories are full of eccentricity reminiscent of Monty Python, Firesign Theater, Shakespeare, Douglas Adams,Terry Prachette and Christopher Moore. They contain great bits of self-referential humor and constantly break out of the stories to comment on the very story that they find themselves in. Characters do odd things like take breaks to go off to the bathroom. They get enthusiastic when the laugh track goes off and start playing to the audience for more laughs. It’s hilarious and engages the listener in the wonderful world of pure storytelling. This kind of silliness that works so well is very hard to find and makes the Web a pure joy when you do find it.
The Hazardous Players have built a web site (www.hazardousplayers.com) around their world of funny characters, complete with sketches and a blog that chronicles various happenings in their story kingdom. The audio is of excellent production value and uses music and incidental sounds with great precision and comic effect. The vocal performances are magnificently ludicrous and enable the listener to clearly imagine each character in perfect detail. I look forward to many more episodes in the silly kingdom of Udenland.