Category Archives: Spoken Word Audio

The Blind Goose-Killer of URK (by F. Key)

Say, I haven’t done something like this in a while. Here’s a reading of Frank Key’s THE BLIND GOOSE KILLER OF URK, a fun little travelogue with a fun ending. Sorry about the peaks and levels, it’s a little raspy in places.

This recording is posted here  or can be played directly below from Soundcloud



Seeing RED (audio)

Story by Zenryhao Narration by W. O’Hara

Charlie’s Back… (audio)

(Audio) Lemmings, by Richard Matheson

(this is a repost from my Audio Blog, Airy Persiflage. See the original HERE if the WordPress media player is broken)

This tiny little story is by one of my favorite writers to ever grace the tiny screen, Mr. Richard Matheson, who passed away on June 23rd of this year (2013). Matheson was perhaps the finest writer for television of the 20th century; many famous Twilight Zones bear his mark, including the famous Nightmare at 50,000 Feet (the original).

Written as a parable about nuclear war, it was not received well, and in some jurisdictions people actually wanted it banned. I rather like the darkly ironic tone and imagery of this short-short piece. I have always read it very differently from the author’s intent, and took the allegory as representing the madness of popular culture. Go figure!

It’s a short recording, only about three and a half minutes long. Listen HERE:″

Book Review: THE EXTRA by Michael Shea

The ExtraThe Extra by Michael Shea

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review based upon the Blackstone Audio version of THE EXTRA by Michael Shea, narrated by William Hughes.

Reading (or listening to) a Michael Shea novel is a rare treat for me, because Michael Shea doesn’t exactly crank novels out like a factory. So when they do appear I snap ’em up promptly without much further ado. THE EXTRA caught me by surprise.. I was browsing the audio book section of the U.S. Army’s online library (no kidding!) and there it was, so bang, zip, it was downloading to my Ipad 2.

To say Mr. Shea is “variable” in his style is not entirely accurate, but in the past, he has written in a sort of old pulp pastiche style not unlike a Weird Tales writer from the 50s– almost baroque with his language, florid and very descriptive– my favorite example of this is the outstanding NIFFT THE LEAN series, which I recommend highly. NIFFT is a sort of dark hero/rogue in a humorous, Fritz Leiber vein. There is also THE QUEST FOR SIMBALIS, which is set in Jack Vance‘s DYING EARTH world, and THE COLOUR OUT OF TIME, which is a not-very-subtle homage to Lovecraft. Even with all this hopping about between genre homages, I find Shea’s literary style both instantly recognizable and a joy to read. Shea loves language, that much is obvious, and if he can add in a twelve letter adjective where a five letter one will do, he certainly will do it. This can make his writing a little dense for the newcomer expecting a slam bang adventure novel. Like a good Gene Wolfe or Tim Powers story, Michael Shea’s fiction must be consumed by the sip, not the gulp, like good Tennessee bourbon. You will appreciate them all the more for putting in the effort.

THE EXTRA (2010), wellllll, it pretty much turns everything I just said about Michael Shea on its ear. Gone are the long and thoughtful baroque dialogues, adjectives and pithy asides. Gone is the murky fantasy setting. Gone is the insidious lurking evil… replaced by a modern dystopian setting in a future Los Angeles, where Live Television events have become a billion dollar killing art form, hiring thousands of extras who risk their necks (and many are deliberately slaughtered) in hopes of earning a big cash reward for surviving the movie shoots that employ them. In this future, movie extra work will most probably get you killed, but if by some chance you make it, you will earn enough money to escape the grinding pressures of poverty in future Los Angeles.

Perhaps THE EXTRA was written as a tongue in cheek observation on our societal addiction to increasingly violent forms of entertainment mixed in with Reality Television. It’s hard to say, but the setting was close enough to our own here and now to make a casual reader wonder just how far from reality this story gets. I’ve never been very optimistic about the public taste..

The story is told with multiple points of view: Curtis, a “Riser” who is essentially the lowest rung of the middle class, living in high rise urban arcologies called Risers. Maggie, who is from the lower rent “Zoo” district, poverty ridden and determined to make something of herself for her family’s sake, Kate, an Assistant Director disgraced to a position of “paymaster” on one of the rafts that rewards extras for making Kills against the robotic beasts used in every movie as killers– and Val Margolian, the Supreme architect and director of the movie being shot during the story.

This is a new Michael Shea. No leisurely storytelling pace, no arcane forces at work, just a fast-paced, well written story about Dystopia and what a small group of people had to endure to escape it.

My verdict is easy.. I loved this novel. EXTRA shows great imagination and decent worldbuilding. It will hold up to repeat readings. The Audio Version by Blackstone is quite good. William Hughes does a great job with dialect and voices. A good listen!

View all my reviews

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The crucifixion considered as an Uphill Bicycle Race, by Alfred Jarry

I couldn’t reference J.G. Ballard without referencing the title that gave him such inspiration:


French proto-absurdist playwright Alfred Jarry was a lifelong cycling enthusiast. He habitually wore cycle-racing clothes, referring to his bicycle as “that which rolls.” That is Mr. Jarry himself in the picture above.

Click to listen:″

Representation of Père Ubu by Alfred Jarry Deu...

Image via Wikipedia

Background Music: Max Ernst’s Red Nightmare by Rubber Band Banjo. Used under Creative Commons.

Professor Panini (crosspost from Airy Persiflage).


In this humorous (and cautionary) tale, Matthew Grigg spins a story of a man, a duck, a cat and a toaster, and what this all has to do with Buttered Bagels. Enjoy

To play this story:″

Direct Link to Airy Persiflage post for Facebook Users

History Mystery Boo! week ending 6/23: Who Was the Traitor? and The Boy Generals

ACW boy in uniform, likely confederate.

ACW boy in uniform,

The latest History, Mystery BOO! week ending 24 June 2011, answers the last HMBoo question:

“During the American Civil War, some officers, by the legal definition of the term in the Constitution, actually
committed treason– in that they aided and abetted the Confederate cause while still officially in Union blue. To
whom am I referring? I’ll give some leeway here, as there are about four famous names, and a few other less
distinguished ones that are correct answers.”

I could probably do an hour or more on this topic– but since we only have five minutes, I limited it to a quick run through of the four most famous names I could find. If you know of a more famous name, do let me know.

The question for next week asks: who were the five youngest Generals in the Civil War, on either side?

Click HERE to play or visit the Audio Boo page directly.″

The Letters of John and Abigal Adams 001

John Adams (1735-1826) and Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818) were a couple that supported each other intellectually and emotionally throughout their long married life together. Throughout John’s long absences, first with the Continental Congress and then as ambassador to France and the Netherlands, they kept up an astonishing correspondence exchanging over 1,100 letters, beginning during their courtship in 1762 and continuing throughout John’s political career (until 1801). These warm and informative letters include John’s descriptions of the Continental Congress and his impressions of Europe while he served in various diplomatic roles, as well as Abigail’s updates about their family, farm, and news of the Revolution’s impact on the Boston area.

Some of this correspondence is archived and published here at the Massachusetts Historical Society website. We will attempt to do this subject some justice. Thanks to Julie Bellam of Pennsylvania for reading Abigal’s letter.

In this letter, Abigal tells John about an excursion on a continental brig, and John mentions an upcoming Declaration that will be a major event in his life.

To listen, click the play arrow below.″

Here is a direct link to the Airy Persiflage posting for Facebook users.

Modern Man (audio) by George Carlin

Continuing the Carlin lovefest.



This is my rendition of the late, great George Carlin’s excellent rant on the Modern Age, “I’m a Modern Man”. Words viewable here, if you’re on Facebook.

I can’t do it justice, but I love the piece, so I’ll give it a shot. The backgroun music is once again the excellent Anne Farnsworth,Coolage, available under a Creative Commons license.

Click here:″

Or, if you are a Facebook user, visit this link to the crosspost on Airy Persiflage.

The Arimaspian Legacy by Gene Wolfe

The Arimaspian Legacy is a short story by Gene Wolfe, read by your humble narrator.  It is a fictionalized memoir of a friend’s obsession with book collecting, with a twist of an ending.  This is my second attempt at a Gene Wolfe short short story, the first being “Happy Easter”.


  • Arimaspians were a tribe of one-eyed bandits from Scythia
  • Gryphons were mythical beasts with the hindquarters of a lion and the head and torso of eagles.  Much used in heraldry.
  • ” Haven’t you visited Sumer? Hah! Or Akkad? What about Ur?” references ancient cities and modern archeological sites.
  • The story seems to reference this medallion, perhaps..
  • Background music is Kronos Quartet’s DEATH IS THE ROAD TO AWE from The Fountain.

The Arimaspian Legacy is hosted online at Infinity Plus short fiction site.

Facebook users may listen directly at the Aery Persiflage site. WordPress readers can click on the arrow below.″


NOTE: Podbean’s basic account sets bandwidth limits per month that appear to routinely go over about mid-month (right now).  So if you click the arrow and nothing happens, this is the reason.  My plan is to upgrade to the “Basic Plus” level shortly.

Defanging Venomous Snakes of a Particularly Aggressive Nature

“How to De-Fang Your Venomous Snake” by Mr. Frank Key.  Read by Mr. Walter O’Hara.

Snake Bit

Ouch. Clearly, this is an example of a proactive snake getting the jump on an owner that is contemplating de-fanging.

In which the humble narrator recites some sound advice from Mr. Frank Key on the issue of defanging venomous serpents of a particularly aggressive demeanor.

To listen (WordPress Readers), click the play button below.″

Facebook readers: Go to Podbean Directly

Another Yuletide Ritual

Little MatchGirl

The Poor Little Matchgirl..

Growing up, we had our rituals for Christmas time.  One of them was to play a scratchy old long playing record of spoken word christmas stories– “A Pickwick Christmas” narrated by Charles Laughton on one side, “A Christmas Carol” narrated by Ronald Coleman on the other.  Another ritual was to read to us the Story of the Poor Little Matchgirl, by Hans Christian Anderson.  The story ceratinly isn’t a Yuletide favorite, as it ends in tragedy, but I remember thinking that perhaps we were being read this as an abject lesson to appreciate what we have in life, or perhaps there was some connection with “Christmas Magic” at the end.  I’m not sure what “lesson” this story was trying to teach us as children.  It seems a little melancholy to me, but I”m used to it.   In any event, here is a recording of THE POOR LITTLE MATCHGIRL, by Anderson, as read by your humble narrator.″


William Burroughs and the Mask of the Red Death

bullet rocket

Spoken Word snippets

William Burroughs is a headache to read. His prose is disjointed, random, unfocused, but it is also laden with some of the oddest, most descriptive verbiage I’ve had the pleasure to read. So you have to be schizophrenic to consider yourself a fan of the guy. I have found the perfect compromise, the spoken word audio recording. Burroughs was an enthusiastic narrator of his own work and recorded MANY spoken word projects with many collaborators– Laurie Andrson, Byron Gyson, John Cage and others. Here is William Burroughs reading somebody ELSE’s work, namely Poe. I uploaded a MP3 of Burroughs reading THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH onto Here’s the URL if you are interested, the file is somewhat large.

Here, also, is one of my favorites, “AH POOK THE DESTROYER” done as an animation with Burroughs narrating.