creativity

JoyProject podcast: The Joy of Old Time Radio Shows with Zachary Lennon-Simon

The Joy of Old Time Radio Show with Zachary Lennon-Simon

Travel back in time with JoyProject as we delve into the world of Old Time Radio Shows, a form of entertainment from the 1920s to the 1960s that had families and friends gathered around the radio to tune into their favorite mysteries, drama, and comedies. Zachary Lennon-Simon, a comedian and storyteller in Brooklyn, New York, is our guide through this delightful and light-hearted audio-forward history for the latest episode of the JoyProject podcast—The Joy of Old Time Radio Shows.

At the end of the podcast, I share something that brought me joy this week related to the episode. I found a bunch of free online resources where you can tune into all kinds of old time radio shows with just a few taps on your computer or phone. I also share my two favorite apps where you can access thousands of free audiobooks through your local public library.

Topics discussed in this episode:
– How Zach discovered old time radio shows as a kid and rediscovered them after college
– Zach’s favorite shows and where to find them today
– The differences between old time radio shows, audiobooks, and narrative podcasts, and some good ones to check out
– The importance of sound design in old time radio
– Stars who made old time radio popular

Links to resources:
– Zach on Instagram – @lennonhyphensimon
– Zach on Twitter – @zachlennonsimon
– Zach’s short film, frantic delicate summer – https://vimeo.com/63383000
– Christa on Twitter – @christanyc
– Christa on Instagram – @christarosenyc
– Christa’s website – ChristaAvampato.com
– Old Time Radio Archive – https://www.youtube.com/c/OldTimeRadioArchive
– Old Time Radio Shows – https://www.youtube.com/c/OldTimeRadioShowsOnline
– MakeUsOf article – https://www.makeuseof.com/listen-old-time-radio-shows-online/
– Internet Archive – https://archive.org
– Relic Radio – https://www.relicradio.com/otr/
– RockIt Radio – https://rokitradio.com/
– Internet Radio – https://www.internet-radio.com/search/?radio=old+time+radio
– Pumpkin FM – https://pumpkinfm.com/
– RUSC – https://www.rusc.com/
– Libby App for free audiobooks – https://libbyapp.com/
– Cloud Library for free audiobooks – https://www.yourcloudlibrary.com/

A little bit about Zach:
Zach Lennon-Simon is a filmmaker and storyteller who was born & raised in Brooklyn, NY. He has told stories for many different shows such as Kvetching & Kvelling, Everything is Bad, Beaver Helmet, and The Teacher’s Lounge. In his spare time, he tries his best to sing both parts of Judy & Babs’ “Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again” medley. 

creativity

How research helps writers get unstuck

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Have you ever been in the messy middle of a writing project? It’s the point where you’re not quite sure how to get from the middle of the narrative to the satisfying conclusion you have planned. It feels like you’re in quicksand, unable to clearly see the path forward. Your characters look to you for guidance, you look to them for guidance, and none of you have any answers so you just spin place, or worse—you abandon the project altogether. 

The wisdom and guidance you need to get out of the messy middle is research. Right now I’m working on a historical fiction novel. The main tentpoles of the plot have remained the same but I’ve brought in many new details to make the script come alive. It’s set in an Italian bakery in New York City in 1910, a dynamic and wild time in the city, country, and world. A myriad of historical events would have had an outsized impact on my characters so I have to research that time to get the details just right. It’s a heavy lift, and ultimately worth the time and attention.

I got myself out of that messy middle by digging into The New York Times archive for specific dates and events that figure prominently into the lives of my characters. In that research I found a plethora of information, and that information created the map I needed to find my way to the conclusion. 

If you’re in the messy middle now and ready to throw in the towel out of frustration, take a deep breath and go to the archives. Let history be your guide. Research your way across the channel to safely emerge on shore on the other side. It’s only a matter of time. The world needs your story.

creativity

My JoyProject podcast launches TODAY: The Joy of Old Things with Ashley Semrick and a joyful news segment

My podcast, JoyProject, launches its first interview and joyful news episodes TODAY. Historian and teacher, Ashley Semrick, talks to me about The Joy of Old Things. Listen at the link below or anywhere you listen to podcasts. This link also has a transcript of the episode, photos, and links to extra resources.

In this episode, Ashley and I talk about our love for history and its relevance in society today. We explore the history and stories held in objects, and how anyone can get started doing historical research about any topic that interests them. We especially focus on teaching history to young people and getting them excited about digging into the past as a way to understand the world around us.

Topics discussed in this episode:

– The complexity and necessity of joy in difficult times, and how to find it and create it

– How and why to teach history to young people

– How to conduct historical research about any topic of interest

– The important role of museums, media, and cemeteries in historical research

– Ashley shares how her parents sparked her love of history at a young age

– How Ashley found and returned a 100+ year old diary to the family of the man who wrote it thanks to Ancestry

– The joy of found objects and discovering the history behind them

– NYC’s Sanitation Museum—a collection of found objects curated by a NYC Department of Sanitation worker who collected items that New Yorkers threw out for 30+ years

creativity

Write every day: How to know where to begin a huge story

For a few months, I’ve been wrestling with an idea for a TV pilot I want to write. The trouble is that it’s a period piece (which are notoriously expensive because you often have to recreate a world that no longer exists) and the story is mammoth. I’ve been making lists of ideas, notes, and sources, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. And then last night, a break through.

I was reading a book about the heroine I want to showcase, and there is a key moment, a turning point where a choice she makes sets in motion a set of tumultuous events. So I’m going to start right at that key moment. I can see it so clearly now—how everything unfolds from there and changes the course of her life forever. The moment is small but the implications are huge.

With mammoth stories, it’s often those tiny moments, that one decision that tunnels into an entirely new world, that should be the beginning.

creativity

Write every day: Prohibition and organized crime

Screen Shot 2020-02-02 at 7.05.39 PMTake a ride through the underworld with me! I wrote a piece about Prohibition & organized crime in New York City for Inside History magazine’s latest issue called Crime and the Underworld. The piece is titled If Organized Crime Could Make It In New York…It Could Make It Anywhere! If you’d like to read just my article, click here.

The entire magazine is filled with juicy true crime stories throughout history so if you’d like to get a copy, here are the order links:

UK delivery (print)
Worldwide delivery (print)
Digital PDF download

creativity

Joy today: I finished my third National Novel Writing Month

The day before Thanksgiving, I wrapped up my third run at NaNoWriMo and hit my 50,000 word goal for my third novel. I’m giving the novel a good long rest on my desktop until I pick it up again to begin editing in early 2020.

Here’s the draft synopsis:
“After a succession of personal tragedies, Libby Farina runs her family’s Italian bakery on Mulberry Street in the year 1910 in New York City’s Little Italy. As the city around her swirls with innovation and its often dire consequences, a stranger arrives on her doorstep near death. Who is he and how will his presence in her life, however brief, forever change her world?”

creativity

Joy today: I’m writing a theater piece about Prohibition in NYC

Today I’m putting in a funding application for a piece of writing that combines my love for secret New York City history and immersive theater. Would you go to a show based on historical events and figures set in one of New York City’s only remaining original speakeasies during prohibition?

creativity

Joy Today: NYC’s Secrets and Lies returns on Tuesday, April 9th

I’m so incredibly excited to share that my storytelling show about secret New York City history returns on Tuesday, April 9th. We have an incredible lineup of storytellers, a stellar special guest, and a fun, timely theme of MONEY!

“Money makes the world go ’round” is a widely used saying invented right here in New York City so this month New York City’s Secrets and Lies is getting into the wheelin’ and dealin’ that’s been flying around this city since it began. Corruption! Extortion! Bribery! Organized crime! Greed! But there’s a catch: one of us has completely fabricated the story we’re going to tell you. Can you spot the lie that’s just too scandalous to be true? If so, we’ve got a big, fat prize with your name on it from Untapped Cities. Join us and test your knowledge of NYC secret history!

Tickets on sale now at https://www.caveat.nyc/event/new-york-citys-secrets-and-lies-4-9-2019.

Screen Shot 2019-02-26 at 7.35.25 PM

creativity

Joy Today: NYC’s Secrets & Lies celebrates 1 year at Caveat

A year ago I was flyin’; I had just finished the 1st show of NYC’s Secrets & Lies at Caveat with a sold-out crowd. I had no idea what I was starting but I’m so dang grateful to everyone who’s been a part of this journey, on-stage and in the audience. So many of you have been beyond supportive of this crazy idea and there’s no way I’ll ever be able to say thank you enough. This is a collection of our casts to-date and I just adore them all. How lucky I am that this show brought them all into my life! Their stories have inspired me, moved me, and made me fall in love with our city even more. Join us for our 1-year anniversary show on Thursday Feb 7th with another set of storytelling rockstars. Doors at 6:30pm. Show at 7pm. Click here to purchase tickets on Eventbrite.

Cast members:
January – Sarah Laskow, Michelle Young, Allison Chase, Carla Katz, Alex Neuhausen, Bridget Randolph
April – Adam Wade, Vicki Eastus, Suzanne Reisman, Carla Katz
June – Hannah Frishberg, Sabrina McMillin, Cindy Mullock, Emerie Snyder, Tija Mittal
August – Ashley Semrick, John Bucher, Erin Hunkemoeller, Tom Rowley, Leslie Goshko
October – Erin Leafe, Zak Martellucci, Alex Taylor, Michele Carlo, Julie Gaines
December – Justin Mugits (street artist Blanco), Jackie Peters, Vicki Eastus, Dustin Growick

 

creativity

Joy Today: Jewelry exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

I love to learn about objects of beauty that have personal and / or historical significance. Yesterday I walked around the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s jewelry exhibit with my mouth agape because every piece is just so beautiful. I was awestruck and joy-filled by beauty and it’s exactly what I needed. If you can get there, go. And if you can’t, you can see some of the exhibit online. I snapped these pictures of some of the items with their perfectly cast shadows.