Featured Show: Back to Normal

This week’s featured show is Back to Normal: an audio adventure starring a hivemind boy band, a monocle-clad psychic, some sentient lightning, and the world’s greatest mini-golf baron! Back to Normal is hosted by Loren (Storyteller), Daniel (Clyde Puttersley), Sarah (Havoc! at the [full name pending]), Andrea (Madame Three-Eyes Four-Sight) and Zach (Lord Lightning).

Back to Normal is a radio show in which five nerds play a tabletop RPG about mad science and the problems and solutions it causes. The game involves a lot of rule-checking and dice-rolling, but we cut most of that out and leave you with the story of the intertwined lives of four eccentric characters in Normal, IL as the mundane midwestern town becomes a hotspot of mad science.

You can tune in to Back to Normal every Wednesday at 6pm (up until our Spring 2018 season ends)! You can also listen to the Back to Normal Archives on their website to catch up on the story (and here’s a helpful glossary of RPG-specific terms used in Back to Normal).

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Art by Loren, storyteller and music/art producer for Back to Normal!

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* Quick character intros/backstories?

DANIEL: Clyde Puttersley is a minigolf baron slowly running his late father’s minigolf establishment into the ground. He fell into mad science in an attempt to innovate in the field of minigolf course design, and has become ensnared in the maniacal nonsense of the inflation bardo to avoid missing a chance for crucial publicity.

SARAH: Havoc! at the [undecided] is a three-piece garage rock boy band, who also happens to be a hivemind. They’re gonna be the next big thing, man, for sure! Just as soon as they find their sound, dude, and decide on a name, and write some songs, and play more gigs, and…

ZACH: Lord Lightning is a sentient ball of lightning who disguises himself as a human with illusions and force fields. He can generally be found brooding in the rotating restaurant at the top of his Tower of Doom, accompanied by his retainer Dr. Dinosaur. His main goal is to be the world’s camp-evil antagonist, but also to liberate human souls from their disgusting meat prisons.

ANDREA: Madame 3eyes 4sight is the most gifted fortune teller of this generation, or so she would have you believe. In truth she uses a complicated system of mind-reading and also veils to convincingly imitate future prediction. Despite her unparalleled acumen for seeing the future, she struggles with the requirements of the mundane world such as people having names and daylight being regular and also stairs. She generally can be found cruising around in her mobile fortune telling truck, the Wheels of Fortune, with assistance from her capable and deadly maine coon cat sphinx, trying to find customers so she can fund her tea addiction. Also she has a monocle.

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* What songs would you pick as the theme for each of your characters?

DANIEL: Clyde’s favorite song is Straight Down the Middle by Bing Crosby, from the short film “Honor Caddy.” Though it isn’t about minigolf, Clyde’s father, Clifton Puttesley, would often play it in the golf cart while driving around with golfcart with Clyde in the passenger seat. It is by far the best song ever written about golf.

SARAH: Havoc!’s music is inspired by loud wall-of-sound rock from the early to mid 2000s. Of these, their favorite song would be In One Ear by Cage the Elephant.

ZACH: Lord Lightning’s favorite song is Schumann’s “In the Lovely Month of May,” which he typically listens to while staring into dramatic stormy distances. The theme music Loren wrote for him, which is kind of classic Frankenstein-y horror sounds, is perfect.

ANDREA: Madame likes to listen to synth remixes of Gregorian chants that she keeps in a bedazzled CD case in the back of her van, inscribed with what she *thinks* are ancient runes but are actually the characters from the bottom of the page in Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, which was released in 2008 if anyone was wondering.

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* Favourite show moments so far?

LOREN: Good moments off the top of my head: madame saying “beautiful night” on a sunny afternoon, “the biggest name in the smallest golf”, the Top of the Doom reveal, Havoc!’s unmada monologue, and the entire kitbashed grappling hook situation.

DANIEL: Favorite moments are mostly other characters being casually rude/inhuman to NPCs, or to Clyde. Madame screwing up NPC names is a particular favorite. I appreciate the doubling on down on “this is not an adventuring party that is working together solve problems – this party is a beautiful, beautiful problem”

SARAH: My favorite moments are generally when our characters end up in danger due to very, very easily avoidable bad decisions. (HUBRIS!) The best of these has to be the whole rappelling up a tower in a golf cart using a bunch of veils tied together (which goes about as well as you’d expect) incident, just to avoid walking up seven flights of stairs. Other excellent examples include getting caught up in a Cold War-esque conflict just to get back at someone for an insult, joining the evil faction of mad scientists just so they would sell Havoc!’s records, and, well, too many others to name.

ZACH: My favorite moments are when our characters’ ruthless antagonism causes everything to just escalate escalate escalate. If I had to choose specific cases, I would probably go with Madame selling out an NPC for a limited-edition box set of Storm Chasers, Clyde’s passionate speech on “family fun,” and (airing Wednesday) Havoc! impersonating Lord Lightning to attempt a heist.

ANDREA: I have many favorite moments from this chronicle, and honestly many of them are goofs somewhat orthogonal to the actual Plot(TM), but high on the list: Lord Lightning chucking Madame and Clyde to their possible deaths just because golf clubs don’t match his aesthetic, Clyde’s Family Fun Bardot monologue, Havoc! planning to film a music video on 2008 cell phones, literally any time Lord Lighting does one thing with his metaptropi field (visible illusion of a body) and another with his prostasia field (invisible but corporeal fake body).

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* Are we approaching the end of the Back to Normal (and graduation !!), any thoughts or feelings you want to share?

LOREN: There are about a billion things I feel like I could have done better, many of which I tell myself I’ll do better every time I run an RPG and somehow don’t. But I’m incredibly glad we did this, not just because we’re making an interesting new thing, but because it’s been so much fun to tell this story together, and I’ve learned so much from it. With what we’ve learned, it’s pretty much a given that we’re going to do a somewhat related project after Back to Normal wraps up. Thank you so much to everyone for pouring your time and energy into this and sticking with it even though you all had real-life theses to work on!

ANDREA: As for approaching the end… I can imagine it’s traumatizing for those without the gift of inner sight who saw this turn of events. Jk I am hoping for much geniusing in our future!

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Read/listen/learn more at the Back to Normal website!

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