Three large characters. Two mechanical pigs. One epic story.
17 January 2022
Season 10, Episode 01
Program Guide for Figurski at Findhorn on Acid
Re-Imagined Radio adapts the pioneering hypertext novel Figurski at Findhorn on Acid by Richard Holeton as a radio story. Performed by The Voices. Special appearance by Holeton. Frank Figurski, The No Hands Cup Flipper, and Fatima Michelle Vieuchanger converge at Findhorn, Scotland, seeking one—perhaps two!—mechancial pigs of incalculable value while stewing in Spam, acid—yes, that acid—and wit-slathered repartee. The result: a legendary radio story. Broadcasts and streams by our local, regional, and international partners.
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Enhanced version. WAV format. (Use headphones while sitting comfortably for best listening experience.)
Frank Figurski Character Excerpt
The No-Hands Cup Flipper Character Excerpt
Fatima Michele Vieuchanger Character Excerpt
The No-Hands Cup Flipper Music Theme
The Figurski Music Theme
The Morrocan Intrigue Music Theme
READ the working script for Figurski at Findhorn on Acid.
Minor changes are possible in production. Voice actors are creative. Otherwise, this is an accurate textual description of what is heard in the broadcast.
Jack Armstrong as The Announcer
Richard Holeton as Himself (the author)
Mago Weston as Shana
Devin James as Zed
Sam A. Mowry as Frank Figurski
Heath Hyun Houghton as The No Hands Cup Flipper
Patricia Blem as Fatima Michelle Vieuchanger
Jeff Pollard as Preacher
John F. Barber as The Host
Written, Produced, and Hosted by John F. Barber
Sound Design, Music Composition, and Post-Production by Marc Rose of Fuse
Social Media by Regina Carol Social Media Management
Branding and Promotional Graphics by Holly Slocum Design
"Figurski at Findhorn on Acid Lights Out Excerpt." Lights Out Listening Group, Glasgow, Scotland, 23 February, 2022.
Event program and archive
A 6:50 excerpt from "Figurski at Findhorn on Acid" was selected from an open international call for inclusion in this episode of Lights Out Listening, a bimonthly event held live in The Old Hairdressers Shop, Glasgow, Scotland. This excerpt is from the final scene . . . Frank Figurski, Nguyen Van Tho (The No-Hands Cup Flipper), and Fatima Michelle Vieuchanger are on the beach at Findhorn (also in Scotland) deciding what to do with two mechanical pigs of incalculable value while their respective acid trips mixes a conversational cocktail. Listen to "Figurski at Findhorn Lights Out Excerpt."
Figurski at Findhorn on Acid: The Ego Excerpt. Sonic Darts, Resonance FM, London, 7 Feb. 2022.
One of ten submissions selected from an international call for "Sonic Darts," a sound art / transmission art radio program delivered monthly by London sound art collective Gwaith Sŵn, from the Welsh for "sound work" and pronounced "g-why-th soon." LEARN more at Gwaith Sŵn's YouTube channel. Submissions were to explore how "ego" factored into the creative process. Artists were asked to include a :50 vocal introduction explaining the presence of ego in their works. In this excerpt, Shana, an Ambassador on Duty, introduces Frank Figurski to the Findhorn Community gathered in The Universal Hall for Friday Night Sharing. Figurski in turn introduces a mechanical pig he found in the sand dunes at the edge of this intentional new age community in Scotland. Listen to "Figurski at Findhorn on Acid: The Ego Excerpt."
The audio file [of your radio adaptation of Figurski at Findhorn on Acid] blew me away! Just awesome!! As instructed, I put on the headphones so I could appreciate all your amazing sound effects. The acid waves! Spaceship! OMG. The whole thing.
John, to hear the entire drama play out voiced by the incredible cast that Marc assembled is to marvel at the script you produced, what you packed into it and how you made it flow. The biggest compliment I can pay you is that, in listening to this version of the story, I lose track entirely of where my text leaves off and your text takes over (and don’t care). This effect is further enhanced by the occasional ad libs from the actors, and who knows what mad tweaking from Marc in post production.
Marc, the audio experience is like another character, overarching and godlike, who is running the whole show. You are a wizard to be sure. I’m going to listen again. I'm sure I've only scratched the surface of appreciating the work with my first listen.
I think you’ve done a fabulous job creating this wild new synthesis of multiple strands, introducing the characters, providing lots of interaction and drama with clever use of the Shana and Zed “device,” creating all these opportunities for cool sound effects, etc. Great job with the email exchange too. At first I was worried about moving the COMAS conference to Findhorn, but I think you pull that off well too, and in such a way that this episode completely stands on its own, in case there are no “sequels.” Way to go — what a delight to read this adaptation!
It will be fascinating to see how other listeners react to all this. I hope you both win heaps of praise and mega awards for this amazing work. I can't thank you enough for your interest in doing this adaptation, and for the artistry with which you have pulled it off. Wow!
author, Figurski at Findhorn on Acid
What a wonderful radio broadcast that was. It is now my favorite Re-Imagined Radio has produced. Richard's source material lends itself so well in offering a lively story. Marc’s sound design expanded the story so beautifully. John’s script honed in on an exciting moment in the story. Congrats, all. My wish? That Wes Anderson could get his ears/hands on this work. I think it is right up his alley.
Director, Electronic Literature Lab
WOW . . . just WOW! That was absolutely excellent and totally enjoyable to listen to. Thanks for the invite to the virtual launch party because it was really interesting to understand the behind the scenes work on how y’all do what you do . . . and do it so well! Bravo! Very excited to have your talents on KXRW and XRAY radio. What a treat for our listeners!
President, Board of Directors
This radio adaptation of Figurski at Findhorn on Acid was originally conceptualized as a performance presentation at the Electronic Literature Organization 2021 International Conference. Richard Holeton (author), Dene Grigar (Director of the Electronic Literature Lab), and John Barber (Re-Imagined Radio) proposed a 90-minute performance and panel discussion, which was accepted for the conference program. READ the proposal.
COVID quarantine and travel restrictions squashed this idea, but prompted our decision to adapt Holeton’s novel as a radio episode.
This radio adaptation seeks to retain the relevance of Figurski at Findhorn on Acid, a work of interactive media constrained from further development by changing hardware and software platforms. This adaptation re-imagines a literary work as sound-based performance art, accessible via radio. A radio adaption of Figurski at Findhorn on Acid introduces a method for re-booting inaccessible hypertext literature, allowing it to endure as a work that audiences can access and enjoy.
A Hypertext Novel
This episode of Re-Imagined Radio is adapted from Figurski at Findhorn on Acid, a comedic hypertext novel by Richard Holeton, published on CD ROM by Eastgate Systems in 2001 using Storyspace software. Updated computer operating systems made the novel unavailable until it was republished using open Web languages in 2021 by the Electronic Literature Lab, Washington State University Vancouver, directed by Professor Dene Grigar, a leading electronic literature expert. Grigar hosted Holeton at the Electronic Literature Lab where he performed a "traversal" of a portion of Figurski which was video streamed and recorded by Re-Imagined Radio.
Traversal of Figurski at Findhorn on Acid by Richard Holeton
22 February 2019, Electronic Literature Lab
Traversal by Richard Holeton
Writer Richard Holeton discusses his pioneering work of hypertext electronic literature, Figurski at Findhorn on Acid (ISBN 1-884511-40-6, CD, Eastgate Systems, 2001, catalog listing here), including the factual background behind this fictional work and the playful yet precise organization of its nodes, and performs a portion of the default pathway through the work. LEARN more at the ELL website. Listen to this audio documentation of Holeton's traversal of his work.
Some have called Holeton's original work "electronic literature too big for a single genre." We agree and our re-imagined radio adaptation, made with Mr. Holeton's approval and participation, is part of the 20th Anniversary celebration for this pioneering work of electronic literature, one of 23 works included in the literary hypertext canon (Ensslin, Astrid. Canonizing Hypertext: Explorations and Constructions. London: Continuum, 2007, p. 66.). LEARN more at the Figurski at Findhorn on Acid website.
Engagement Beyond Linear Reading
Electronic literature uses the features and abilities of computers and their programming to present readers opportunities to interact with text beyond just reading along the linear pathways of the words as they appear on the printed page. One example is the hyperlink, the ability to click or tap a word or phrase and be transported to connecting or new information. By clicking hyperlinks readers can choose their own paths though a story.
For example, Figurski at Findhorn on Acid has three characters, three artifacts, and three settings. Combinations of one, two, or all three of these characters, with one, two, or all three artifacts, at one of the places provides 147 main narrative "story spaces" where the story unfolds. With an additional 147 Notes and 60 navigation screens, there are a total of 354 spaces in the novel. 2001 hyperlinks provide many ways to follow different paths through these spaces. One's destination is determined by the links chosen to follow. So, rather than an observer, one becomes a participant, helping to unfold the story.
Along the way one encounters dramatic dialogue, scientific writing, journalism, slang, heroic couplets, haikus, email, academic language, research culture, and pedagogical rhetoric, all parodied, satirized, and skewered in lively and entertaining fashion so to blur the boundaries between fiction and reality.
Figurski at Findhorn on Acid offers three larger than life characters, each based on real people: Frank Figurski, Nguyen Van Tho (aka The No-Hands Cup Flipper), and Fatima Michelle Vieuchanger.
Frank Figurski spent twenty-one years in the Harvard PhD program in mathemtics without completing his dissertation concerning tridimensional harmonic equations. After killing his dissertation advisor, Figurski spent six years in prison for second-degree murder. He maintained the murder was justified by his mistreatment as a graduate student, refused psychiatric care, and claimed to enjoy prison. While in prison he wrote an unpublished memoir and made guest appearances on television talk shows.
Figurski is highly intelligent but intense, self-focused, and socially awkward. His crime and life are modeled after the real-life Theodore Streleski, a long-suffering Stanford graduate student who bludgeoned his advisor to death with a hammer in 1978. Some listeners might also hear echoes of Theodore Kaczynski (aka the Unabomber and author of "Technological Slavery”), another self-righteous and socially maladjusted criminal.
Nguyen Van Tho lost both hands as a toddler during the Vietnam War when he picked up booby-trapped cans of Spam made by the Viet Cong that had been intended for American soldiers. Tho immigated with his family to the United States where they settled in San Jose, CA. Tho worked odd jobs, becoming a talented footbagger (Hackey Sack) then an acrobatic flipper of coffee cups at a California roadside attraction near Gilroy. He worked on his own as a performance artist called The No-Hands Cup Flipper. He stopped performing in his thirties to do more personal exploration, including travel, virtual reality, psychedelics, and pilgrimmages to Findhorn. Eventually he got a sophisticated prosthetic hand and hook and returned to the roadside attraction as a manager.
Fatima Michelle Vieuchanger is a French-Moroccan writer and feminist activist. She is well-educated and widely traveled, savvy, adventurous, and enterprising. Her many disguises in pursuit of interesting stories include as a man disguising himself as a woman with U.S. commandos in Iraq, as the girlfriend of a Yakusa kingpin, as a male Jewish tourist in Florida, as a Lebanese shopkeeper immigrant, and as a CIA agent code-named "Tanya.” She publishes regularly in various media and is always looking for the next story.
As a gender-bending writer, Vieuchanger is sometimes portrayed as a kind of alter-ego to the novel's author, Richard Holeton, as she makes meta-commentary on the story, and also like the author, may speak directly to the reader. Unlike Figurski, Vieuchanger is politically a leftist and artistically or intellectually a postmodernist.
Figurski at Findhorn on Acid unfolds across three exotic locations: the Holodeck (of Star Trek fame), Shower-Lourdes, a trailer park community in Southern Florida, and the Findhorn, Scotland, a small fishing village and home to an intentional community of New Age eccentrics. The Holodeck may be seen/read as a metaphorical virtual reality experience, or a viewport into the psychedelic effects of ingesting lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD, acid. Shower-Lourdes is the location of an apparition of Jesus on the shower wall of a trailer in a Florida trailer park. The Findhorn community is an intentional new age community in Scotland promoting spirituality and ecology, and summed up by the mantra, "Work is love in action."
Situated on a finger of sand and scrub separating Moray Firth, a protrusion of the North Sea, from Findhorn Bay, the terminus of River Findhorn, Findhorn was first established in the 17th century. It was, for many years, the major port along the Moray with vessels sailing to and from other ports in present day Baltic Countries. Shifting sands made the already narrow and shallow entrance to the Bay of Findhorn impossible for large ships to navigate and through the 18th, 19th, and most of the 20th centuries, Findhorn was a sleepy fishing village.
The Findhorn Community was founded in 1962 by Peter and Eileen Caddy and Dorthy Maclean in a trailer park on the outskirts of Findhorn, the village. They agreed to use MacLean's purported contacts with nature spirits, she called then "devas," to help with growing food. Whether due to spiritual guidance, the unique Moray micro-climate, or the generous amounts of horse manure donated by a local farmer, reports of "exceptually large vegetables" attracted other spiritual speakers to Findhorn.
In the 1980s, tired of the meager shelter their travel trailers provided against the brutal Scottish North Sea winters, Findhornians began constructing several permanent buildings. The Universal Hall was hand-crafted of local stone and wood and stained glass, symbolically pentagonal, spiritually and astronomically aligned as an attractive landing site for extraterrestrials. Residents and visitors still gather there for Friday Night Sharing, an amateur talent show.
In addition to three characters and three places, Figurski at Findhorn on Acid features three unusual artifacts: Spam (the canned food product), acid (the psychedelic drug LSD), and Rosellini’s 1737 Mechanical Pig. The latter, a sophisticated automaton built by veterinarian/engineer Guillermo Rosellini of Venice, is featured in the radio play adaptation, and is shadowed by a near exact duplicate mechanical pig built by Dutch puppeteer Gilbert van Gelderschott in 1884. Both pigs are operated by a complex and largely invisible system of hand cranks, gears, pulleys, and clock mechanisms said to comprise 147 moving parts. And both, if they exist, and could be found, would be of immeasurable value.
For this re-imagined radio adaptation we focus primarily on Frank Figurski, who meets the other two characters, The No-Hands Cup Flipper, and Fatima Michelle Vieuchanger, at Findhorn Community, in Scotland, where they engage with both acid and (mis)adventures with the mechanical pig‘or are there two? But, this is only one path through Mr. Holeton's novel. See for yourself. Read more, learn more at the Figurski at Findhorn on Acid website.
Season 10, Episode 1
Monday, 17 January 2022
Re-Imagined Radio begins its tenth season this year, 2022. Who knew, back in 2013, that we would get this far, last this long? But we did and we introduce this year a new narrator, Jack Armstrong, and new music themes and "cinematic sound" by Marc Rose. We're thankful for this success. So, it seems appropriate to follow a theme this year of "tribute" to other successfull radio programs.
This first episode of 2022 is a tribute to Figurski at Findhorn on Acid, the award-winning comedic hypertext novel published by Richard Holeton in 2001, and now celebrating its twentieth anniversay. It's never been done before, to the best of anyone's knowledge, to adapt a work of electronic literature to radio. Electronic literature is produced using computer technologies. Never printed, it is meant to be consumed using computers, primarily through a visual interface. Re-Imagined Radio seeks out your ears as a way to your mind's eye, your imagination. We think the pictures are better there. They are bigger, and you are the star. Dialogue, other sounds, and music can make this happen.
Why adapt Figurski for radio? Good question. My answer: "Why not?" It's a sprawling story, with larger than life characters, exotic locales, realistic dialogue, great opportunities for music and sound effects, and two alleged mechanical pigs. Why NOT radio?
Richard Holeton, the original author, and Marc Rose, sound designer and composer for Re-Imagined Radio were skeptical. Figurski has three characters, three artifacts, and three locales. Combinations of one, two, or all three characters, with one, two, or all three artifacts, at one of the locales provides 147 main narrative "spaces" where the story unfolds. With an additional 147 Notes and 60 navigation screens, there are a total of 354 spaces in the novel. 2001 hyperlinks provide many ways to follow different paths through these spaces.
How DO you pick one story from all the potentialities in a novel like Figurski at Findhorn on Acid? Michael Joyce, author of Afternoon: A Story and Twilight, two seminal pioneering works of electronic literature, provided an answer. Asked, "How does one read a work of electronic literature?" Joyce replied, and I am paraphrasing here, "Well, you follow the links and see where they lead. You explore. You discover. Or, you follow the wave of the returns."
By "follow the wave of the returns" Joyce meant simply pressing the "Return" key on the computer keyboard, rather than engaging the hyperlinks and diveating onto a different narrative path. Keying "Return" would advance the hypertext story to its next programmed node. Perhaps this was not the best way to engage with Figurski but it was A way. "Let's see what happens."
I began at the opening node, "lexia" in the lingo of hypertext authors and researchers, read through to its end, and pressed the "Return" key. That led to another lexia. And so my reading progressed. The path I chose focused on Frank Figurski. By following Joyce's "wave of returns" I learned quite a lot about Figurski, his background, his quest for the alleged mechanical pigs, and his interactions at Findhorn Community with the two other main characters, Nguyen Van Tho, AKA The No Hands Cup Flipper, and Fatima Michelle Vieuchanger.
The interconnections were compelling. Each character had different experiences with at least one of the alleged mechanical pigs. Each traveled to Findhorn, an intentional new age community in Northern Scotland. Each had sass which was exacerbated by the acid graciously provided by the Findhorn Ambassadors on Duty. Yes, THAT acid! Clearly, sparks would fly if they were to meet and find the mechanical pigs. And so the story for a radio adaptation of Figurski at Findhorn on Acid fell into place.
Narrative elements were drawn from Holeton's hypertext novel. I wrote additional dialogue as needed. Marc compoosed music and soundscapes, sonic ambiences for each character, and sound effects. Listen to the episode trailer, for example, where The No Hands Cup Flipper describes his acid trip.
We had a script. Richard approved. Marc engaged The Voices, our fluid group of very talented local voice actors. The recording went quickly. Production also. The launch party arranged by Dr. Dene Grigar, director of the Electronic Literature Lab, attracted an international audience, many of whom stayed online after to listen to the premier broadcast and stream of "Figurski at Findhorn on Acid," the radio adaptation.
What's next? We have some ideas. Let's see what happens.
The Figurski at Findhorn on Acid trailer by Holly Slocum, Marc Rose, and John Barber.
Special thanks to Maureen Keller, Syliva Lindman, and Brenda Alling for promoting this episode of Re-Imagined Radio.
READ their Press Release
The Figurski Journal
Produced by collaborator Marc Rose for inclusion in his own podcast series The Fusebox Show, these journal entries document, from a unique perspective, progress toward the finished episode Figurski at Findhorn on Acid. They also provide a nice cross-promotion effort. Thanks, Marc!
Listen to Episode 001, An Introduction to an Introduction, from Fusebox 183, "Sham-Pain and Crackkkers"
Listen to Episode 002, Shana and the Pig, from Fusebox 185, "Who Are We?"
Listen to Episode 003, Fatima's Plan, from Fusebox 186, "Crackurate"
Listen to Episode 004, Meet Frank Figurski and The Cup Flipper, from Fusebox 188, "Signal To Noise"
"domidish." Video: Zanger as "Cup Flipper" on David Letterman, San Benito Live, 4 Apr. 2019.
Eugene A. Zanger (1930-2019) was the mentor for the fictional No-Hands Cup Flipper. He was the co-founder of Casa de Fruta in Gilroy, CA, where he performed as The World Famous Cup Flipper. This video, posted on YouTube by "domidish," shows Zanger's performance on Late Night with David Letterman, December 1987.
Spaeth, Emma. Coastside Author Re-Releases Unique Novel. Pacific Tribune, 14 Dec. 2021.
Figurski at Findhorn on Acid web poster by Holly Slocum, Holly Slocum Design (240 x 356)
Figurski at Findhorn on Acid banner poster by Holly Slocum, Holly Slocum Design (820 x 356)
Figurski at Findhorn on Acid square poster by Holly Slocum, Holly Slocum Design (2000 x 2000)
Figurski at Findhorn on Acid full poster by Holly Slocum, Holly Slocum Design (2000 x 3000)
Graphics and live streaming by Regina Carol Social Media.