(CS 2) Production Notes

We’re only two episodes in, but it’s possible you’ve already noticed far fewer sound effects and music in Crystal Society, compared to my previous projects. I want to say there are artistic reasons for this, but alas, I cannot. It’s purely practical.

At my last job, I didn’t work the full day. I had to be in the office for roughly eight hours, but for a decent handful of hours every week I didn’t have work to do. So I’d spend some of that time on planning SFX and music, and/or searching out appropriate FX/music. And I’d also take long lunches, during which time I’d work on the podcast episodes. A typical 25 minute episode is 6-8 hours of work. For complex things, it could be longer.

Now I have a new job, which I haven’t work-optimized yet, and which requires more of my brain and time. On top of that, I have far more non-work projects nowadays, including The Bayesian Conspiracy podcast, and trying to make an honest attempt at professional-level writing. On top of a growing social life and home responsibilities, I just don’t have the time to produce episodes as richly as I used to. :(

This is mainly a vanity thing. I liked adding in the music and SFX, it was fun, and it made the project more personal to me. But while they do make the listening experience slightly better (I hope), they are frills and extras. The core story is the true value of the podcast, and that is not lost. I wish I had the time for the frills. But there’s only so many hours in life, and we all have to choose our priorities, and ultimately the frills just aren’t as important as writing a novel or renovating my home.

I do have a few, though. Anything that’s really simple to throw in, for one. And the functional ones that are needed in order to translate the work into audio. Like page-flips to denote section breaks. Or the background hum (reminiscent of a space station, I hope) whenever the AIs are speaking internally to each other. In the text this is conveyed by using [brackets] around their text, rather than “quotes”. I realized immediately that I needed something similar in the audio to give some clue that there is no speaking with the outside world happening, only internal dialogs. I hope it’s enough?

I’m really surprised that more audio fiction hasn’t switched to doing something like this yet. Visual cues in a manuscript, like indentation or changed font, really do need some sort of equivalent audio cue. Come on publishers, it’s not that hard.

SFX: Warp Core, Flashback

Intro/Outro – I Wanna Be Adored, by The Stone Roses

(MM17) Production Notes

And we’re done!

One day before this was set to go live I decided that I wasn’t happy with the backing music I’d used. So there’s a version of this chapter on my hard drive that uses Mars by Gustav Holst for the Superman scene, and Etude No. 2 + For The Damaged Coda for the Lois scene. Mars was too intense throughout, rather than building, and didn’t end quite right. And For The Damaged Coda, while beautiful and exactly the mournful I wanted, was still waaaaaaay too recently popularized by Rick & Morty, making the whole scene just feel derivative due to the music choice. So I spent most of Tuesday freaking out and trying to fix that. Thankfully I was recently given a spotify playlist that had Nunc Dimittis on it (thanks Brienne!) and an ex-Catholic friend that pointed me not just at Requiem, but which parts in particular would work well (thanks Vivian!). So – whew! What a day!

The Full Book (at 7.5 hours) is also available at the main Metropolitan Man Table of Contents page.

I feel so unutterably torn about how Metropolitan Man ended. I was originally going to talk about that here, but I recently recorded the interview with Alexander Wales that’ll be airing in two weeks, and we talked about in that, so I’ll just let that wait until that comes out. :) Thank you again to everyone who helped contribute to this. Super-Extra Thanks to Alexander Wales for writing such an amazing story, and letting me podcast it (psst, you can read his other stuff here!). And thank you all for listening!

SFX: 1940’s Office; Forest Night; drawer; skid; wrecking ball

Intro/Outro – Handlebars, by Flobots
Luthor Manor w Superman – in order: Rex tremendae; (tiny bit of Confutatis)Agnus Dei; Dies Irae, all from Mozart’s Requiem
Luthor Manor w Lois – Nunc Dimittis, by Arvo Pärt

(MM16) Production Notes

In the text version of Metropolitan Man one doesn’t realize that it’s Lex that has written the letter to Lois, until after it’s read. I thought the idea of recording that letter in Lex’s voice would be hilarious, but it didn’t occur to me until after I finished that I was giving away that part of the game. I considered redoing it in a neutral narration voice, but that would be weird, because I always have someone else do any voice that isn’t narrator/Lex. And it would feel a little bit like lying to use the neutral voice. Plus the lost opportunity for audio hi-jinks! Since it’s not really a spoiler, as it’s revealed to be Lex in the very next paragraph, well… I decided to keep what I first put down. :)

Turns out that Faust is a couple minutes too short for this part, and I really wanted to use Faust. That is when I discovered that dirty, shameful feeling when you end up vamping Wagner. I have vamped songs lots of times to make them fit the space needed for background, and it never felt wrong. I know that there isn’t anything intrinsically more respectable about classical music. In fact I find certain modern music to be far more moving, so if the metric was something like “has great emotional weight” or “is considered by Eneasz to be a masterpiece” then I should feel much worse about cutting up modern songs. So obviously that’s not the metric. As far as I can tell, the metric may very well be “my parents and teachers would give me very stern looks, and shake their heads sadly, if they found out.” But dammit, I did it anyway, because I have the power and power corrupts.

SFX: 1940’s Office

Intro/Outro – Handlebars, by Flobots
Luthor Manor – Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Wagner’s Faust
Jewelry Store – You Are My Lucky Star, by Don Bestor

(MM15) Production Notes

I think it’s super cute that Jimmy and the PI hired to wring information out of him are a couple now. :) I wonder if she told him, or that’ll be one of those “foundations of lies and deceit” things.

It’s interesting the things that are cut from final versions of a story. There’s some backstory in this chapter, and Superman describes a power of his ship. In a removed scene, Lex stumbles across that power himself. It can be found by scrolling down just a little in this thread [NOTE – a commenter recommends Spoiler Warnings. I don’t think anything linked here or below relates to the last few episodes of Metropolitan Man, but I’m putting the warning here just in case. If nothing else, saying that the things herein aren’t spoilers is sorta a meta-spoiler about things you won’t have to worry about, so um… take that into consideration]. Scrolling a little further describes how to read a scene where Superman helps Lex change a flat tire. :) Alexander Wales also wrote a fanfic of his own fanfic that gives a more more in-depth origin story, but I’m not sure if it’s considered canon. Found here.

One of the things that really draws me to this story is how much I empathize with Lois. Her objections to God have always been among my strongest objections to God as well. And as soon as I put together the Superman = God thing (sometime in college, maybe late high school?) I had all her reactions as well. Eventually I realized that this sort of requirement would destroy anyone with human psychology, and that puts me in the interesting bind of agreeing with Lois in ideal, but identifying with Superman in the sub-ideal world we’re stuck in. For anyone struggling with similar issues, I really recommend Scott Alexander’s Nobody is Perfect, Everything is Commensurable (and the related Infinite Debt too).

SFX: Restaurant (Lively Cafe track), City noise (City and The City track)Radio Drama

Intro/Outro – Handlebars, by Flobots
Luthor Manor – Boccherini’s Minuetto

(MM14) Production Notes

A bit of a short episode today, due to some coordination SNAFU on my part. Next episode will be a little longer than average, to pick up the slack.

Last episode’s production notes were non-existent, so I didn’t get to mention that one of the jurors was played by DaystarEld, writer of the RationalFic “Origin of the Species,” and one half of the Rationally Writing Podcast team!

Today’s episode was sorta personal for me in a way I never expected it to be. Waaaaaaay back in Chapter 2 of HPMoR, Harry says “You’d think there’d be some kind of more dramatic mental event associated with updating on an observation of infinitesimal probability.” We all now know why there was no such dramatic event for him, but I recently discovered that my dad is basically agnostic/atheist, and has been since at least my teens. I had put the probability of my Jehovah’s Witness parents being anything less than full-on believers at significantly less than 1%. To find out everything I believed was wrong, and had been for decades, was a complete mind-fuck. It’s not as dramatic as discovering god doesn’t exist, not by a long shot, because that has some insane flow-through adjustments. But it’s still shocking, and cause for sooo much re-evaluation.

SFX: 1940’s Office, shower

Intro/Outro – Handlebars, by Flobots
Luthor Manor – Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
Superman Confession – X-ray Vision/Cold Precision, by Echo Beds
Lois Realization – There Are Some Remedies Worse Than the Disease, by This Will Destroy You