Lindsay Harris-Friel

I write plays and audio drama, make puppets, clean up messes, take in strays, eat and drink and curse too much, and laugh too loudly.

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Vince and I were driving home on Kelly Drive. He was driving, I was catching up on email on my phone. 

ME: Hey honey, John Hodgman has a new podcast.

VINCE: Mmhm.

ME: he's recapping and discussing "I, Claudius." 

VINCE: Surprise, surprise.

ME: Guess what it's called.

VINCE: (stops breathing)

ME: "I, Podibus."

VINCE: (Long sigh)

ME: Guess how it's spelled.



I never got around to writing "I, Rone", possibly because I always pronounced the name as "Roan".
I had to think about that for a minute. Good one.
That's "I, Clav ... Clav ... Clavdivs."

Random thought:

I was thinking about all the people who have played The Stage Manager in Our Town. Fred Gwynne, Henry Fonda, Paul Newman, that gangly, folksy archetype. Then I thought, yeah, like James Comey. 

Holy shit. What if we’re all extras in an Our Towniverse, a Thornton Wilderness, and the Stage Manager is James Comey? 

I thought, this is a thought for Brett Heller.  He said, “can we go back and look at a single day in our lives? Lordy, I hope there are tapes.” 

If we’re living in the Thornton Wilderness, I guess I have to start liking Hello, Dolly. 

"Thornton wilderness" is outstanding. You should write that play.
I can’t take full credit. I was trying to type “Thornton Wilderverse” and Autocorrect kicked in. But, yes. I really want to.
One person's Heaven is another person's Hell.
The guy who played the Stage Manager in our high school production of Our Town had the world at his fingertips and died young. His parents said it was an accident surfing, but his brother confirmed that it was carelessness due to a lot of drugs.

Things are not always happy in Grover’s Corners.
That’s a damn shame.

Apple changed the way it categorizes its podcasts. Instead of audio fiction/audio drama being buried in "personal journals" or "performing arts," it now has a category, Fiction. It even has subcategories: Fiction>Drama, Fiction>Sci-Fi or Fiction> Comedy. 


At 5:53 pm on August 21, 2019, Jarnsaxa Rising is 58 out of 60 on the Fiction>Drama chart for Apple Podcasts. 

I know it's highly subjective, but after not being visible among my peers for so long, this is flippin' HUGE. 

Here's another thing that's cuckoo-bananas. Last week we were the #3 podcast in Fiction in South Korea. 

It IS huge. I'm so glad they've fixed this long-standing problem.
I know that this is all about shareholder bullshit and competing with Spotify and Netflix and Amazon and BBC Sounds for attention spans, but right now, I'm just happy to be where I am.
iTunes is just such a trash fire and has been so for at least a decade. Discovery on Apple's platforms is so frigging fraught. I subscribe to the Apple Music service and there's an astonishing amount of great music but finding by association, without knowing the exact name is almost impossible. (screams, clutches head)
I think podcasters don't care about the New & Noteworthy list anymore because they know that it can be bought. But Jarnsaxa never even made the Modern Radio Plays list. The only way anyone finds Jarnsaxa is by word of mouth, Twitter, or stumbling across it while searching for something related to Norse Mythology or fan stuff related to Marvel's Thor & Loki. Word of mouth and Twitter have been good to us.
I’m so friggin happy for you right now that I could scream. That is fantastic news!
Oh hey! I see you!
Karen 8/23

Today I'm editing a review of a microphone made specifically for podcasters. My supervisor wrote the article. The mic is called the Podcaster, and it's made by Rode. He opened the article with, "At our office, we have more Rodes than the Roman Empire." 

In the summary paragraph, I added, "It's a colossus among the podcasting-tool hegemony." 


Last night I had the pleasure of seeing the lovely and talented Jenn Rice Abrevaya, starring (IMO) in Mamma Mia! Jenn, of course, was brilliant, and despite my cynicism about jukebox musicals, I was emotionally recharged by the show. All it needed was More Jenn. 

I’d expected that MM would continue the traditions of Scandinavian theatre by refuting the themes of Ibsen, that life is a depressing mystery. It seemed clear that MM would posit the mysterious feminine not only in the sun, so distant and rare in Ibsen’s work, but also firmly entrenched in the prison of patriarchal sanction, yet without the pistols or an orphanage to burn down, via the machinery of Swedish disco music. I was wrong and right at the same time. 

Sophie, the alleged protagonist of MM, desires to become the doll of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. She seeks approval from a father before giving her virginity to a Wall Street wunderkind. In short, she is willfully the golden fatted calf bought and sold. Her mother, Donna (perhaps a Madonna?) is the 1970s sexual-revolution feminist and Circe, trapped on a Greek island, spinning magical experiences for her guests. Like Hedda Gabler, she claims not to need a man for success, but she wants one (as Hedda desired Eilert), for joy, and one for financial stability (as Hedda needed Jørgen). Sophie challenges her mother, saying that she wants to start her life “right,” with a “white wedding” and knowing who is the man responsible for her.  

The book writer for Mamma Mia!, playwright Catherine Johnson, eventually came to her fucking senses at some point while trying to shoehorn in the ABBA hit, “Knowing Me, Knowing You.” At this point, Sophie’s groom and one of the candidates for Daddy tell her that marriage isn’t everything. Though Mom has been saying this all along, because the men in her life finally say it, Sophie listens, and starts thinking about marriage seriously. Much like how Nora and Hedda are forced to behave by Krogstad and Judge Brack respectively, Sophie and Donna continue towards the wedding. Finally, Sophie drops her desire to marry and to find out who her father is, just as Donna chooses to marry and accept financial support from her former lovers. 

Donna chooses the path of patriarchy, from which Ibsen warned early feminists away. Sophie and her young buck shoulder backpacks to travel the world, engaging in the poetic mystery that Eilert and Oswald embraced, leading to their deaths. 

Ibsen was one of the first dramatists to perfect the art of realism in theatre. His descendant in Scandinavian Drama would do well to reject it, choosing Neo-Absurdism, rather than send women a message of kowtowing to the patriarchy via glitter and sequins. Donna preserves her tavern, and gets someone to fix the roof, though Nora abandons her house. The conflict between Ibsen’s feminism and producer Judy Craymer’s post-feminism was best illustrated by this production’s version of “The Winner Takes It All.” Actress (can’t remember) belted this torch song with power, dignity and skill that could blow the roof off of the venue. However, the microphone system strapped to her face gave her voice an electromagnetic hum, barely discernible, yet devastatingly annoying to human ears. The power of women still burns in Scandinavian theatre; sadly, Western audiences must put a ring on it and tame it, in order to sanctify it. 

IN ALL SERIOUSNESS, the singing and dancing were great, performances were solid, the script made me have to think, “If I roll my eyes any harder, I’m going to get a headache.” Obviously, the answer is that I have to write a musical for Jenn to star in. 

In other news:

If I pet Mo Magee as much as she wants, her fur gets so slicked down that she looks like Bastet. 

the script is absolutely horrible. it's basically, "what 3 lines can we cram in between these 2 songs to make it feel like they go together?" i'm so glad you sat through that to experience the good stuff, it was great to have you there!
Jenn A 4/9
Like I said, all Ms. Jenn needs is a venue. I scheme scripts for you when I need to feel happy.
I'd back that show!
Now I have to figure out how to make a 50-minute Fringe show out of Mamma Mia and this post, without being legally actionable by the creators of Mamma Mia.

Greensleeves again, this time with more confidence.

 I tried to make a video of me playing Romance from A Little Night Music, but between the tripod not cooperating and me not being really ready with that piece yet, all I made was myself angry. 

Sounds pretty good to me! At a bare minimum, it's 1. forward progress and 2. infinitely better than I could do!

I’ll be honest. The practicing for 30 minutes a day or 3.5 hours per week thing is not 100% accurate. We were out of town for a bit. Since “30 minutes a day or 3.5 hrs/week” and “16 units of information” does not equal predictable results, I’m finding it harder to explain what the results are. It feels like problem solved or puzzle cracking, but it barely feels like music. 

Anyway, here’s Wonderwall. Plenty of mistakes. You can also hear Sassy playing in the background. 

A result I can guarantee with 100% accuracy is that no matter how well you can play a piece, as soon as the camera is on, you will make mistakes. 

The good news is that I can now move on to learning about sharps & flats, which means the work will sound less boring. Yay for leveling up! 

EDITED TO ADD: this is the next piece I have to work on, which I believe is standard issue for every high school marching band in America. 

All I can think of is the episode of Strangers With Candy when Gerri is in the school jazz band, as a scat singer.

EDITED TO ADD AGAIN: I got Half Time Band and Greensleeves in a pen. Not captured, but in a pen. I think another day of muscle memory practice will do it. 

You're amazing.
Were your ears burning? I keep thinking of you while I practice Greensleeves.
"Hen- Ry- did not write this so-o-ong, he just liked to take cred-it... Hen-Ry was an old horn do-o-og..."
(googles "rhyming dictionary")
(search search search)
"and he bought this to get Annie bed-ed."

You probably know the history of Greensleeves better than I do..
Naah, I just know it's not "What Child Is This?"

Also, I keep trying to listen to Jarnsaxa Season 2 and the sound effects + the Nazis in the first episode actually make me anxious. So ... um, good job for affecting the audience? I have wanted to tell you that for a while.
Oh, thank you! I'll tell Vince. He had a really hard time with that airplane, and complained about it mightily.

Wikipedia says that Greensleeves is too young to be a Tudor era song.
To be honest: we all had a hard time with it. I was in the room for rehearsal, and there was a lot of very uncomfortable giggling. Just a lot of tension in general.
BTW: if that one makes you anxious, skip it and go on to the rest. The only thing you need to know is that the knife is a Chekov’s gun and metal holds memories.
163 days! Wow! You're amazing.
Frederick, you're a poet.
Isn’t that a lovely book?

I practiced for an hour & seven minutes today, according to my stopwatch. 

Worked on G pentascales and stuff that seemed boring and pedantic, then moved over to this innocent-seeming li’l ditty. 

After about 40 minutes or so or practicing, my left hand can do the left hand part perfectly, my right hand can do the right hand part perfectly, but as soon as I start the metronome and try to sync up the bass clef and the treble clef, a giant concrete wall forms between all the right-hand-left-hand stuff in my brain, and I’m sitting there paralyzed, holding down two notes, while the metronome goes tick... tick... tick...

It’s not fear. It’s just like my brain can’t do it. It’s pat your head & rub your tummy stuff.  I managed to pound my way through it, and measures 3-4 and 7-8 are passable, but 1-2 and 5-6 have given me a headache and a hand ache. I even went back and did the G pentascale exercises to try and make it easier. 

At 67 minutes, I made a mistake that sounded familiar, and started picking it out, or something similar. 

After this, it’s Turkey In The Straw, a theme by Mozart in G major (your guess is as good as mine), and then...SHARPS & FLATS! Finally I can get some variety in here. 

I just realized that as of today, this has been a five month experiment. 

I can play that! I started reading the music in your post and realized, hey...I know that! I love that one! I've had it memorized for so long that I oddly didn't recognize at first what that was.

I have a piano in my kitchen (it was my mom's childhood piano, then my brother and I grew up playing it, and now I have it) and that's one of my warm-up tunes or just something when I don't know what else to do. (I'm not saying I'm GOOD at any of it, either)

I know we don't know each other but I believe that you *will* get your hands to coordinate. It will happen. I remember the exact moment it happened for me very clearly (a different tune, a Mozart something or other), though it was a million years ago, when I was a kid. I remember the day when HOLY COW MY LEFT HAND IS DOING SOMETHING *AND* MY RIGHT HAND IS DOING SOMETHING, DIFFERENT THINGS, AT THE SAME TIME OMG. Something will just click and it'll happen.

Or, it won't. :-) But I think it will.
Rachael 2/1edited
I concur. It takes time to rewire the brain, but it does eventually happen.
Oh, the rewiring! How good it feels to work around or through those barriers!
It does feel good. It makes all the work worth it.
Thank you. This is the kind of encouragement I needed.

This whole learning to play piano thing isn’t “I want to be David Bowie” or even “I want people to think I’m a great musician.” It’s about effort over time, having an activity that isn’t about words, and having something where I can surprise myself. I love solving the puzzle. As frustrating as it is, I love being at the midpoint with a piece of music where I have it kind of figured out, but not really, and I can find a way to solve it.

Plus, I love the concept of people making their own fun, playing music is a huge part of that, and I want in on that. Even if it’s just pounding out a sloppy arrangement of Bad Romance or King Of The Road, I want to be able to do that.

I just realized that it’s important to me to be able to play LGBT music. Huh. Okay.
You're welcome.

And I totally understand. I'm doing the same thing right now, with Irish flute. Well. Trying. Trying to learn the flute just so I can figure it out and have fun playing music, especially with other people. I've also been re-teaching myself piano over the past few years.
You’re so lucky to have that family piano.

My great grandmother’s piano was dismantled and given to an artist this past summer. It made me sad, but it made me buy a keyboard and a lesson book.
I do feel very lucky to have the piano. It's not a fancy one--a Betsy Ross spinet--but it's got lots of meaning and memory. My grandmother paid for that thing little by little till it was all paid off, so her daughter could have a piano.

I have pictures somewhere of myself as a toddler, standing up on tiptoe to reach the keys. And of myself at probably 8, sitting at the piano looking very, like...befuddled or something. Like I was all "duhWhA?" trying to figure out the piece of music in front of me.

I'm sorry about your great-grandmother's piano.