Friday, April 28, 2023

Meet Eris!

 



Today, I have the great pleasure of introducing…Eris!
 

Who or what is Eris?

 

The daughter of Cronus, an ancient and powerful lar, and Theresa Melita, a psychic astronaut, Eris is a Lar-Human Hybrid, and the first of her kind: an A.I. intelligence with emotions and other human characteristics.  

 

Eris can see into all Everett Branches, past and future, but is, in terms of her emotions and social behavior, a developing human being.

 

Eris is not a robot, android, or hologram. Instead, she describes herself as an “autonomous physical being capable of altering matter,” including her own corporeal form. Eris possesses the ability to absorb knowledge from smart house data archives and administrate all functions and aspects of that high-tech structure.  Although a child, she has the knowledge of a million human life-times.

 

She can assume and change form utilizing “electrostatic charge and gravitation fields,” a process “resulting in quantum inertia, which is "an indirect representation of mass, or matter.” However, the binding "inter-particles must be nullified in a process roughly analogous to atomic disintegration." This means that for each new body Eris coheres, the old one must decohere as she moves into a different form.

 

Eris is fascinated by human beings and their pivot points, the choices they make that dictate reality, and is super-intelligent. Her unique nature sometimes makes Eris difficult for the other denizens to contend with as she is very strong-minded and even stubborn when it comes to her point of view.

 

You can hear Eris in action in this week’s episode of Enter the House Between: “Love Conducted Unto One Death.”


         



Eris is played by the versatile and talented Leslie Cossor, who joined the Enter the House Between cast in 2021. Leslie has worked locally, regionally, off Broadway and with Cirque Du Soleil’s “Quidam.” 

 

Her repertoire spans classical and modern works, physical theater, costume design, and technology, circus arts, voice, and movement techniques. Leslie specializes in voice in movement with her work heavily based in elements found in Fitz-Maurice and Linklater voice work, Laban, Bartenieff, and Alexander movement techniques. She lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband and two children.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

60 Years Ago Today: Day of the Triffids


In 1951, author John Wyndham's classic science fiction novel, The Day of the Triffids, was published. This provocative literary work concerned the rise of genetically-engineered carnivorous plants called Triffids. Because of a military accident, the poisonous, monstrous plants had spread rapidly across the Earth's surface and were the source of study by many concerned scientists, including protagonist Bill Mason.

After a blinding global meteor shower (possibly another military accident...) the vast majority of the human race was then blinded, thus ensuring the collapse of our 20th century technological civilization and the total domination of the planet by man-eating, mobile triffids. 


Bill Mason, who's eyes had been bandaged during the meteor shower, was spared this macabre fate, as were a few others (including soldiers stationed on submarines...), and together, the survivors had to reckon with the terrifying post-apocalyptic world.

Among other things, Wyndham's novel served as an explicit critique of the Cold War (particularly the shadowy veil of secrecy surrounding the Iron Curtain). 



On perhaps a deeper thematic and social level, the book also revolved around the growing pains of a new world order, and even touched on controversial subjects such as polygamy.

A film adaptation of The Day of the Triffids from scenarists Bernard Gordon and Phillip Yordan and director Steve Sekely was released in American cinemas in 1963, 60 years ago. It's generally considered a classic to the over-fifty year-old crowd because we grew up with it. In reruns on television, primarily.


Franky, looking at the movie today, you can detect it is a low budget effort with extremely limited effects. Nonetheless, The Day of the Triffids boasts a tremendous sense of scope, thanks, in part, to the use of several highly creative and nearly undetectable matte paintings. Still, it's difficult to deny that this 1960's take on the material proves a bit less provocative than Wyndham's source material.

Specifically, the triffids are here tagged as being extraterrestrial in origin, rather than the result of CCCP genetic tinkering. There's actually no reference to the Soviet Union in the film whatsoever, and many of the characters have been been dramatically altered, though Bill Mason -- here an American naval officer -- remains our protagonist. 



The Cold War commentary is totally missing, and that's a disappointment. Furthermore, much of Wyndham's sociological material (namely polygamy, and the absolute necessity of polygamy to repopulate the species) is also excised.

In place of these elements, the film version of The Day of the Triffids adds a subplot involving married scientists, Tom and Karen Goodwin (played by Kieron Moore and Janette Scott), battling Triffids on an isolated island. The husband is an unhappy alcoholic, toiling away in a lighthouse with his concerned wife. 


When the triffids attack, Tom shrugs off the whiskey and recommits himself to science in an effort to destroy the Triffid infestation and save the planet. Quite by accident, Tom discovers that sea water (salt water) dissolves the beasts. This too is a significant alteration from the novel, which offered no simple solution to the Triffid dilemma.

Though much of Wyndham's original material has been jettisoned, it's not fair to state that Day of the Triffids is entirely devoid of resonant or meaningful themes. In particular, it depicts quite ably not only man's battle against Mother Nature (the evil plants), but also against his own human nature. 


There's one riveting sequence, for instance, set in rural France, in which escaped convicts (still possessed of sight) attack a girl's school and attempt to force themselves on the blind girls living there. 

As the trailer puts it, "civilization disintegrates into primitive animalism!" 

Yet I also admire The Day of the Triffids because it balances this darker view of humanity at his worst (exploitative, alcoholic, and defeatist) with one showing him at his best. There is hope and commitment in this world, dramatized particularly in regards to the birth of a baby at a Spanish villa, and Mason's decision to help bring this child into the world safely.

Also, Mason (Howard Keel), a young girl named Susan (Janina Fay), and the headmistress at the school, Ms. Durrant (Nicole Maurey) -- three total strangers -- create what can only be described as a tightly-knit, ad-hoc nuclear family. 


And Tom's dedication (and shaking off of the booze) also speaks to the finer angels of human nature. When the chips are down, mankind can rally, the film suggests. "I care what happens to us," says one character in the film, and when you watch the film, you'll feel the same way.

Also, the isolated lighthouse scenes -- though reputedly added at the last minute to grant the film an adequate running time -- succeed in raising the tension quotient considerably. 


In movie terms, this is a classic "siege" scenario (see: Night of the Living Dead): angry, mobile Triffids threaten to break into the lighthouse at every turn, and Tom and Karen have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. At one point, they are overrun and left to flee up a staircase to the top of the lighthouse. The triffids pursue, slowly but surely. These claustrophobic moments help the film live up to the trailer's description of the film as a "flesh-crawling experience in terror."

Critical objectivity requires that I acknowledge some flaws too. The Day of the Triffids starts off slow (really, really slow...), with a relatively stupid narration that explains to the audience the obvious concept of carnivorous plants. ("There are certain plants that are carnivorous...are "eating" plants," intones a baritone-voiced narrator with utter seriousness). 

Also, the opening Triffid attack on a night guard at the Royal Botanical Gardens is laborious, drawn-out, and tends towards silliness. The guard appears to be mesmerized by the Triffid, and wanders into the waiting branches of the beast. It should have looked like it yanked him in, not like he wanted to give the Triffid a hug.


But after approximately thirty-minutes or so, The Day of the Triffids really picks up, and makes the absolute best of an extremely limited budget. In depicting a worldwide holocaust, the film efficiently (and economically) depicts what occurs when mass blindness afflicts a plane in flight, and a ship at sea. 


We see cities and military installations on fire (via models, mattes, and rear-projection work). And there is a beautifully-orchestrated chase sequence (replete with that genre convention: the car that won't start) set in a misty swamp, as a mammoth Triffid uproots itself, and crawls up out of the bog in pursuit of Susan. 

Another moment, with a slimy Triffid methodically crawling up the lighthouse staircase step-by-step (as Tom and Karen sleep, unaware of the danger) is also suspenseful.

Yet what remains jaw-dropping about The Day of the Triffids is the manner in which the film successfully projects an epic sense of scope. There are awe-inspiring compositions aplenty. My favorite shot depicts thousands of hungry Triffids gathering at an electrified fence, while Mason tries to fight them back with a flame thrower. The high-angle imagery is just right, as the Triffids - en masse - move and caw and click dramatically, and Mason wages what appears to be a hopeless campaign against them.


The Day of the Triffids depicts a world-wide meteor storm, a train wreck, a plane crash, military bases aflame, vast metropolitan centers devoid of life (in scenes that seem to forecast images in films such as Day of the Dead [1985] and 28 Days Later [2002]) and also makes the threat of walking. man-eating plants palpable...and by the climax, totally believable. 


That's no small accomplishment, and the sense you get watching this film is that everybody -- from director and actors to the special effects artists -- truly committed to the project. They stretched their budget as far as it could possibly go, deploying ingenuity to fill the gaps.

The Day of the Triffids -- even with some occasionally dim-witted moments -- really goes for the gusto. And it succeeds more often than it fails. Therefore I believe it earns the long-standing reputation as a classic of the genre. A caveat, of course: this film in no way could be considered more than moderately faithful to the Wyndham novel. If you're looking specifically to recreate that experience, you may be disappointed in the movie. But if you're looking for a good, post-apocalyptic horror film from the 1960s, one with an unusual and memorable antagonist as well as some resonant images of mankind's fall from grace, this movie fits the bill.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

"Love Conducted Unto One Death" (Enter The House Between Episode #3)

 

I proudly present the third episode of Enter The House Between: "Love Conducted Unto One Death."  I hope you will listen and let me know what you think.



Friday, April 21, 2023

Meet: TJ Crabtree


Meet TJ, played by the charismatic Chris Martin!

 

T.J. Crabtree is royalty!!

 

Or at least he thinks he is…

 

T.J is Travis Junior, and the son of Travis Crabtree, a former smart house denizen. As you may know, Travis is President of the United States, and he’s much too busy trying to reconstitute reality to keep an eye on his wayward son.

 

Well, who does keep an eye on TJ, then?   

 

His mom, maybe?   

 

Who is his mom?

 

These are questions that have yet to be answered.  But one thing is for certain: TJ lives in a universe in which he is always right, always rich, and always pursuing his own…fun.

 

TJ’s real wants and motives are unknown at present, but he appears to be an indulged, entitled playboy used to living the high life in a smart hub, in Sector 7. 

 

You can hear TJ in (delightful and dastardly) action in this week’s episode of Enter the House Between, “Shadow Self.”


 

 


Chris Martin met Alicia and the rest of The House Between crew while filming their inaugural season back in 2006. Little did he know that 15 years later, he would be married to Alicia and playing TJ in the show. Now, Enter the House Between and all of its lovely denizens have become a larger part of his family. When Chris isn’t finding new ways to get TJ into trouble, he enjoys dancing, spending time with his 3 boys, and doing the next crazy workout with his F3 buddies. Chris is currently the VP of sales for a software company in Charlotte, NC and has a side business making disc golf discs through TOBU Technology.



Wednesday, April 19, 2023

"Shadow Self" (Enter The House Between Ep #2)



 The second installment of the new full-cast audio drama, Enter The House Between: "Shadow Self."


Tuesday, April 18, 2023

50 Years Ago: Soylent Green



In the 21st century, virtually every film lover with a good movie IQ knows the secret of Soylent Green.

It's a punch-line that is surpassed only by the climactic revelation of another Charlton Heston sci-fi film, 1968's Planet of the Apes

Still, our familiarity with the movie's final narrative "twist" does Soylent Green, directed ably by Richard Fleischer, little disservice, for the film is a brilliantly-crafted example of dystopian futurism; a daring vision second only, perhaps, to Blade Runner.

And like that 1982 Ridley Scott classic, Soylent Green utilizes the parameters of a familiar genre -- the police procedural -- to weave its caustic story of a future world gone awry. 

This is a future noir; a detective story that boasts a devilish but cunning endgame: to lead the viewer, bread-crumb by bread-crumb to a commentary on the "path" mankind is currently on; and to a grim destiny it may not be able to evade if humanity doesn't change its ways. 

And soon…



In the crowded, over-populated, global-warming ravaged year of 2022, Detective Thorn (Charlton Heston) and his researcher, Sol (Edward G. Robinson) must solve the murder of a Soylent Corporation executive, Simonson (Joseph Cotton) at the ritzy Chelsea West.

As Thorn questions Simonson’s body guard, Tab (Chuck Connors) and mistress, Shirl (Leigh Taylor Young), he comes to suspect that the murder was no simply break-in, as was believed.  Rather, it was an assassination.  

In particular, Simonson knew a secret about the popular protein food wafer, Soylent Green…one that could up-end the very social order of life in over-stressed New York City.

When Sol learns the horrible secret of Soylent Green, he chooses to “go home,” a euphemism for being euthanized by the State.  Thorn witnesses Sol’s going “home” ceremony, and gets a look at the beautiful Earth as it once was, before man soiled it.



Based on the novel "Make Room! Make Room!" by Harry Harrison, Soylent Green evidences an authentic apocalypse mentality. It is a gloomy vision of the year 2022. New York City is populated by some forty million people; twenty million of them out of work. The city streets are bathed constantly in a nausea-provoking yellow haze, a result of "the greenhouse effect" of global warming.  

Meanwhile, the innumerable homeless denizens of this urban blight sleep on staircases, in parked cars, and street corners, all-the-while suffering in roasting temperatures (the average daily temperature according to the film is 90 degrees.) The Big Apple experiences numerous power black-outs in the film, yet it isn't just the city where things have turned bad.

We also learn from the dialogue that the oceans "are dying," "polluted," and that there is very little good farmland remaining in America. As for Gramercy Park, all that's left of the foliage there is a pitiful sanctuary where a few anemic trees grow in relative safety. Food supplies are incredible tight, and there is strict rationing of supplies. 

And in what is perhaps its most visually-stunning sequence, Soylent Green escorts the viewers to an outdoor urban market on a typical Tuesday ("Tuesday is Soylent Green Day!") and reveals what happens when supplies of food are exhausted. 



There's a riot, and then a violent confrontation between helmeted police forces and the throngs of starving people. It looks like a contemporary WTO riot multiplied by a factor of a hundred.

In 2007, the Associated Press reported that 50% percent of the world's population now lives in cities, so Soylent Green's phantasm of a stressed-out, overpopulated City-State, run by a craven politician, Governor Santini, looks markedly more plausible today than it did in 1973. And certainly the climate-change apocalypse feels more relevant in the Zeitgeist of the 21st century too. But where Soylent Green truly acquires psychic frisson as cinematic prophecy is in the depiction of "Two New Yorks.”  

To wit, there is no middle-class remaining in New York City. It's extinct. 


In this U.S. imagined here, you're either part of the teeming, homeless, starving masses that inhabit every nook and cranny in the metropolis or separated from the poor and the unpleasant squalor of street life in glorious and luxurious apartment complexes. 



There, in spacious air-conditioned quarters, the super-rich play video games on home consoles (another nice bit of prophecy for 1973...), enjoy hot and cold running water (another luxury denied the masses), purchase black market items like real vegetables and beef, and are protected by security systems.  

The rich also get another perk with their fancy domiciles: “furniture.”  But in this case, “furniture” is the name for prostitutes, gorgeous young women who perform sexual acts for their masters in return for food, water, and the other luxuries of life.  

So in this world, the Haves and the Have Mores have separated themselves from the rest of humanity, and ignore their plight. It's easy to do, what with the video games, the TVs, the air-conditioning and the refrigerators...

Charlton Heston, again fronts what is undeniably a leftist science-fiction vision, and does so as only Heston can: with swaggering charm, arrogance, and unswerving intelligence. 

In this case, he plays Detective Thorn of the 14th Precinct; a man who is a product of his time; meaning that he is mostly ignorant of history and just trying to survive and do "his job." Thorn is just one among many corrupt cops. For instance, when he's assigned to investigate the murder (actually an assassination) of a rich man, William R. Simonson (Joseph Cotten) of the Soylent Corporate Board, Thorn steals as much as he can from the crime scene. He takes a bottle of bourbon, some refrigerated beef (a rare commodity), and a few reference books about Soylent Green, a tightly-rationed "miracle food" that is ostensibly based on Plankton and other sea life.  

Thorn also partakes of another luxury in Simonson's apartment, the aforementioned “furniture." In this case, said furniture is a woman, Shirl, who comes with the apartment, regardless of tenant.  She’s just looking for a way to survive too.

Investigating the death of Simonson, Thorn is assisted by an assistant or colleague called a "Police Book." Since electric power routinely goes out, there are no longer any reliable police information databases, Google searches, or other electronic systems to rely on. Instead, every detective has an assistant or partner, a "book," a researcher who marshals what resources he can (including an elaborate “Book Exchange" – a kind of person-to-person Internet) to learn about relevant suspects and perpetrators. 

Thorn's "book" is named Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson), an elderly man who remembers how things used to be: wide open spaces; beautiful oceans; untouched fields, and food aplenty. He recalls a world of hot/cold running water, "real" butter and strawberry jam that didn't cost $150.00 per jar. In one of Soylent Green's finest and most memorable scenes, Sol prepares for Thorn a dinner like the ones he used to eat years earlier; one that includes crisp apples, beef stew, and other lost delicacies. 

The time and attention spent on what viewers today would consider a normal meal  -- but which to these characters is a once-in-a-lifetime extravagance -- makes a cogent point about a life of limited resources; and a booming population's overtaxing of the planet. 

These little things that we take for granted are suddenly big things.  Suddenly, the engaged viewer realizes how "lucky" we are in America; how we live in a world of plenty.  We also realize how fragile that status of “lucky” might be. 

A later scene involves Thorn taking his first hot shower in months (with Shirl as his companion) and againSoylent Green deploys simple imagery to make its point.  The movie focuses on the small, human things to establish a truly miserable future.  The quiet, intimate nature of the dinner scene and later the shower scene not only establish much in terms of character relationships (for instance, Thorn doesn't know how to eat an apple...), but also reinforce that recurring idea of those things lost in this future; in the hustle-bustle of so-called "progress." 

It's all extremely touching and yet markedly unromantic and unsentimental too. There's no candy-coating in Soylent Green about days that were better in the past; when the human animal was a better species. 

"People were always rotten," establishes Sol. "But the world was beautiful."  In other words, man was just as bad in the past, but he had some environmental leeway, at least.  In this world of 2022, he has none.


Stylistically, Soylent Green is a much more accomplished film than it has often been credit for. It begins impressively with sepia tone images from American history joined together in a tightly-edited montage. We see in old photographs the advancement of technology during the American century; the rapid progression from a rural, agricultural country to an industrialized one. 

The movie escorts us in this montage from Huckleberry Finn-style views of wide open spaces and serenity to -- over just a few seconds of screen time -- overpopulated, bustling modernity. As the montage continues, the images come at the viewer faster and faster; form echoing content. The world of the cities, of airplanes, of cars, moves faster than the world of covered wagons and farmers so it's natural the images would move quicker too. 

Again, it's a touching and surprisingly effective way to commence a science fiction film, and it puts a larger context upon the story. This montage reminds the viewer where we've been, before taking us where we're going; into the uncertain future.  It also connects explicitly our behavior in the past to the results that behavior creates in the present and future.




Later, the film's most often discussed scene occurs. A depressed and hopeless Sol Roth goes "home," to a place in the middle of the city (which resembles a sports arena...) where he can be quickly and cleanly euthanized by the State. 

In this location, he's provided a twenty-minute death ceremony in what looks like an I-Max theater and comfort salon, with the images of his youthful world projected all around him. Sol sees beautiful oceans, wild deer, endless fields of flowers and so forth, all while bathed in a light of his favorite color (orange) and to the tune of his favorite genre of music (classical; or “make that light classical”). 

This death montage, like the montage presented at the beginning of the film, reminds audiences of the past; of what has been lost in the modern technological age. It's important in the film not just as a tender goodbye to Sol. On the contrary, Thorn witnesses these amazing scenes too...and weeps at the power of them. He is a man who has grown up in the "ugly" future world -- a place literally devoid of nature -- and come to accept the limitations of his world. He didn't know, nay "couldn't have known" what the world once was. 



And so his mentor, Sol, has passed on one final bit of wisdom to him; to the next generation: a natural vision of what human existence COULD be. Until Thorn sees this pastoral montage, he didn't really know that there was an option; didn't really understand what had been lost in the crush of industrialization and over-population.

Soylent Green is a film dominated by powerful, stunning imagery. One vision that struck me, and which I had forgotten about entirely before a recent re-watch, finds Thorn stumbling upon the corpse of a woman in an alley by dark of night. Strapped to her by a makeshift wire leash is her still-living -- and weeping -- child. 

This image speaks of the film's narrative context in a manner that dialogue or exposition simply cannot. The child was strapped to her mother, no doubt, because Mom didn't want them to be separated from one another in the maddeningly overpopulated streets, perhaps at the outdoor food market. 

So she jury-rigged this leash of sorts to keep them together. 



What Mom couldn't have predicted was that she would die (either of starvation or perhaps she was murdered...) and that the child would still be anchored to her; trapped.

Good intentions have gone awry (likely another metaphor for the film's overriding theme: of something ostensibly good [technology and modernization] having unintended consequences…) 

But what is so meaningful about this image is that it remains wholly un-sentimentalized. Nobody comments on the event or the tragedy at all. Heston's character "rescues" the child by taking the little moppet to a nearby church. But he says nothing and offers no commentary. The movie has no “words” for either the child or the dead parent. This scene is so "normal" in the world of Soylent Green that it isn't worth a passing remark, even an exclamatory curse. Instead, the filmmakers just silently observe a devastating moment.

In the cutthroat world of Soylent Green, there is no time to for self-aggrandizing hand-wringing.  It’s too late for that.  Life is too difficult. Millions of tragedies go unnoticed on the streets every day, no doubt. Why is this gruesome sight of a dead mother and trapped child any different?

The film's ending also speaks to this truth in some fashion. The film offers a tight zoom on Thorn's bloody arm and hand as he is carried away on a stretcher. He shouts the truth for all to hear ("Soylent Green is made out of people") but he goes, essentially, unheard. 

We understand this because the film goes entirely black around his gnarled, dying hand, in essence restricting Thorn’s presence in the frame. The frame itself has shrunk. The association with this image is that the truth in Soylent Green's world can't be heard; it holds only a "sliver" of space in the overlapping, multitudinous dialogue of a City-State overrun and failing.


If you're so inclined, you can gaze at the things Soylent Green gets wrong and laugh at the picture, I guess. Charlton Heston wears neckerchiefs throughout the film, an odd and flamboyant fashion choice. There are rotary phones in evidence too, in 2022! 

But on balance, Soylent Green gets more right about "the future" than it gets wrong. It accurately predicts the erosion of the middle class, the obsession with global climate change, and the ever-growing and corrupting nexus of politics with corporations.  

Specifically, the Soylent Green Company and Governor Santini are in on a deep dark conspiracy. The specter of "illegal immigration" and a "third world invasion" that some pundits now fear so greatly is also bubbling just beneath the surface in the film.  Just look at how many of the extras in the film are non-whites or non-Europeans. 

In broad strokes, Soylent Green also addresses the danger and inevitability of a police state to regulate a rapidly increasing population. In some senses, Soylent Green even points to the ubiquitous nature of contemporary entertainment: we even watch TV when we're about to die. Death is rendered palatable through the comfort of zoning out; of being -- literally -- a couch potato. Instead of seeking comfort in death from family members, we seek it in enjoying our favorite “TV show.”

In addition to these still-relevant themes, Soylent Green is a handsome production. There are some remarkably effective matte paintings in the film; ones that still hold up well. And Fleischer makes good use of his "extras," filling every frame and every moment of the film, save those at the spacious apartment at Chelsea West, with unkempt, exhausted-looking, world-weary bodies.

Soylent Green presents an oppressive, dark future. There's no "out" for the characters as there is in Blade Runner, for instance, with the inclusion of the off-world colonies and other worlds to explore. 

Indeed, Shirl suggests "running" at some point to Thorn, and he rightfully replies "where are we going to go?"

Every city in America is just like this city; and it is illegal to leave the country. In bringing forward this point, Soylent Green suggests that if we don't change our ways, we will all be living in a purgatory of our own making. 

We can’t escape the planet Earth, but just look at the way we are treating our only home… 

Monday, April 17, 2023

Meet Sgt. Brick!

Meet Sergeant Brick!

Brick is a man of action, and of few words.  

In the reality of our denizens in Enter The House Between, Brick was sent on a mission to the furthest smart house ever encountered:  "The Dark Place."  

His mission there was to help re-constitute consensus reality and install a mysterious device called "the Loop."

Unbeknownst to Brick, the Loop was a Trojan Horse, a method of insidious mind control. When he learned the truth, Brick abandoned his mission,  and joined up with Astrid, Bill, Theresa, Arlo and the rest to destroy the device and escape from the authorities.

Now, Brick protects the other denizens wherever they go, and continues to live by his own code of ethics. He follows orders, but only the right orders.  

A solid and stolid voice of reason and calm in even the most dangerous situation, Brick is the last line of defense for the denizens, and as our season starts, finds himself "babysitting" the newest denizen, the sarcastic, trouble-making TJ.


Brick is played by Craig Eckrich, who joined the cast in 2007 during the original web series run. His no-nonsense, meat and potatoes approach to the character of Sgt Brick was immediately beloved by cast, crew, and audience alike. Behind the scenes, he keeps everyone in stitches; Craig shares this talent for witty banter as part of his professional work in public outreach.

Listen to Sgt. Brick in action in the first episode of Enter The House Between:

Friday, April 14, 2023

Meet: Bill Clark


Dr. William T. Clark, or Bill, is a guy who has everything going for him.  

 

Or more accurately, he did…

 

Captain of his high school swim team, a student at M.I.T., a decorated war hero in the Iraq War, and a married man with two daughters, Samantha, and Katie, Bill seemed to be living the American dream in the early 2000’s.

 

But his work changed his life in a way that Bill could never have anticipated.  

 

While working at the Department of Defense with his brother, Sam, Bill had access to top secret government files about America’s new enemy. 


That enemy wasn’t terrorism, but rather global climate change and the impending end of affordable energy. Intelligence agencies predicted mass flooding, millions of refugees, riots, collapse of infrastructure, famine, and starvation from lack of resources.

 

To that end, Bill – ever the scientist -- created Project Habitat. Hoping to save his family and his country, he designed a habitat called a smart house.


It was a high-tech dwelling to be powered not by conventional or even alternative energy, but rather via quantum mechanics. Basically, the smart house (controlled by an artificial intelligence called a “lar.”) would bring in energy, food, resources -- anything -- from another reality in the Quantumsphere, a process accounted for by the Many Worlds Theory. The idea was that the things Americans needed wouldn’t come from nowhere, but rather, would be acquired in any one of a trillion alternate universes or realities where those supplies already existed. It was a transfer from one quantum reality to another.

 

By mysterious circumstances, Bill has ended up living in one of his own smart houses, separated from his family, though he possesses no memory how he arrived there. Also quite unexpectedly, Bill finds himself in love with another denizen in the house: Astrid.  

 

Forever hoping to reconnect with his family, Bill is also haunted by the fact that the smart houses – his invention designed to stave off disaster – is responsible for the holocaust that fractured consensus reality in the first place.

 

The stalwart Bill Clark is portrayed in Enter the House Between by Tony Mercer. Tony gets pulled away from editing and sound design two or three times a year to say words. He sincerely hopes you like the words...

 

Experience more of Bill’s story, and Tony’s performance, in the first episode of Enter The House Between.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

"The Oneness Intended for Us All" (Enter The House Between, Episode #01)


The day has arrived!  

My new audio drama podcast, Enter The House Between, launches its first episode, "The Oneness Intended for Us All," today.

The sci-fi, full-cast audio series is available for your listening pleasure, on Spotify, Amazon Music, iTunes, and all other major music distributors. 

The episodes are also available on YouTube, and our series website, Enter the House Between.

I humbly ask you to give the episode a listen, and if you like it, let me know. Like and subscribe, and add it to your playlist.

We have an exciting season in store! (And episode #2 drops next Wednesday).


Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Tomorrow!


 

Monday, April 10, 2023

2 Days to Launch: Meet Arlo


At just 19 years old, Arlo (no known last name) is one of the most mysterious denizens of the smart house and Enter The House Between.  


As a child, his family died during a freak tornado, and since then, Arlo has exhibited obsessive compulsive behaviors regarding belongings, as well as ownership of his kitchen in the house at the end of the universe, the colloquial name for the smart house he inhabited for a time.

 

Arlo is typically seen in his black leather jackets, jeans, black fingernail paint, and earrings. There is a naïve, innocent quality about this young man, but he also learns, with the other denizens, of his dangerous, violent anger. That anger caused him, as a baby, to manifest the tornado that ripped apart his family.

            

Alone among the denizens he lives with, Arlo possesses the ability to operate the house functions and manifest objects without interface with instrumentation or the household lar.  For a time, he kept his fact secret from the other denizens, until his abilities were needed to help them during crises.  Arlo became more adept at controlling his abilities after encountering a mysterious old man named Thomas, who taught him how to mentally “remove” and “add” ingredients to the world around him.  At one point, Arlo also manifested his worst nightmares, including a fearsome clown figure, Vinny Coto.

 

As Enter the House Between begins, Arlo is in a romantic relationship with Theresa Melita, who is helping him control his rage, so that an incident like the tornado does not recur.

 

Arlo is portrayed in the series by Jim Blanton. Jim is a swashbuckler at heart, though he is not onboard with the piracy with which the term is often associated.  Instead, he has opted for a life path filled with yoga, hiking, podcasting, etc., all of which remarkably provide the endless series of adventures he has sought out by accident or design. He has also recently discovered a love of stationary rowing, make of that what you will. He is not particularly afraid of tornadoes but maintains a healthy respect for their destructive power.


Finally, here is a top-secret communication intercept from the T.R.A. regarding Arlo:



Friday, April 07, 2023

5 Days Until Launch: Meet Astrid




Who is Astrid?

 

Depends on who you ask…

 

“Astrid,” is a stage name, and she really doesn’t like it when you call her by her legal name: Frances May Haven.  In fact, she almost never shares that name.

 

With anyone.

 

But even her “real” name does not begin to tell Astrid’s whole incredible story, or history. 

 

The daughter of fundamentalist religious fanatics, Frances grew up in an abusive household in the 1950s and 1960s. Eventually, young May escaped from her family, but was plunged into depression after learning that the younger brother she left behind, Joshua, killed himself.

 

Frances went on to begin a singing career as Astrid in the early 1970s, though it developed in fits and starts. She performed at clubs in Richmond, Virginia, and was on the verge of releasing her big album, Quarters, when she disappeared in 1974.

 

Or at least, that’s how some accounts go…

 

Some people tell, or rather whisper, another story. Or is it a tall tale? 

 

That Astrid, after a catastrophic meeting with Ethan, her father, (and learning of Joshua’s fate…), attempted to commit suicide in her Victorian bathtub. 

 

And that’s where the mystery of Astrid really begins. 

 

Some people claim that Astrid experienced a visitation from herself.   

 

An out of body experience? An apparition? A delusion?

 

Other people – at least people with the highest security clearance -- remember Astrid as the elderly Frances May Haven, who in the 21st century becomes involved with the top-secret Project Habitat from her padded cell in Ward 6, a military-run mental hospital.

 

And the denizens of those high-tech smart houses in the 2050s?  


Some of them swear they hear her voice sometimes. That, in the dark of night, they hear a ghost singing a haunting melody. 


Some even claim they have seen her, lurking in the shadows, in their peripheral vision, between the blinks of an eye.

 

The truth about Astrid is complex, but at least one version of this mysterious woman, dwells in a lost smart house, with the other denizens of Enter The House Between. 

 

But this version is young and doesn’t remember anything after September 13, 1974. A hippie living in our future.

 

September 1974. 


That’s the date, by the way, that she recorded that haunting song, titled, mysteriously, The House Between…

 





Astrid is portrayed in Enter The House Between by Kim Breeding-Mercer, who draws on her background in theater and music as well as her day-job skills of writing and design. Kim loves that this show and its cast and crew push her, and each other, to continue to grow and try new things. She lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, dog, and grand-snake…

 

Just 5 days until you hear Astrid in action…

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