Archive for May, 2011

Article: Why I Write About Women

May 11, 2011

The online magazine Flames Rising has a new article of mine called Why I Write About Women.

I started my career as a playwright, not as an author.

A long time ago, when I was twenty-four, I wrote an intimate one-woman play. The actress needed to play four women characters in extremely unstable emotional situations. I gave it to a few actresses, to see if they would do it (I sent the manuscript one at a time, of course). One famous actress invited me to her home to talk about the play. It’s not that she wanted to take it, she said when I came, the play was too dark for her; it’s that she needed to see with her own eyes that a man wrote it and not a woman. When I was twenty-four I looked fifteen, so that no doubt made it even more jarring for her. She kept saying how she couldn’t believe a man wrote that play, that a man would know so many things about women.

I’ve been getting that reaction to my plays – and to my stories and books – ever since. I like writing about women characters. I like putting them as lead characters. I prefer it that way, in fact.


Read the rest of the article.

Storytelling Tips: Articles for Gaming Companies

May 11, 2011

I have a new regular weekly blog at Gamasutra, a site for gamers and professionals in video game companies. The techniques of storytelling are often underused, overlooked, or ignored by game companies, which rely more on luck than on professional writers to write a good plot.

So far three articles have been published:

Article #1: How to Build a Mystery Within a Mystery in 7 Steps.

Article #2: How to Plan Big Plot Twists in 4 Steps.

Article #3: How to Turn Games into Art.


The Best of the Voice of God (Revisited)

May 3, 2011

(Recently, all 111 podcasts from The Voice of God comedy project changed location on the web. As a result, the links at the old website don’t work. Here are the best podcasts of The Voice of God with new links.)

Hello and welcome to The Voice of God.

The Voice of God is a comedy project. This is its premise: God is angry, bitter, drunk, and has had it up to here with the whole lot of us. He has decided to start a daily blog – a podcast – in which He tells us exactly what He thinks with us.

The first part of the project has ended after four months, leaving us with 111 comedy podcasts and nearly five hours of comedy.


We learned about how bitter God is with I’m Not Bitter. Later on, God’s bitterness resurfaced when readers dared ask Are You Really God? In fact, half the Bible is sarcasm.

We also learned that God hates everyone. He thinks men suck, women suck, feminism sucks, religious people suck (He even took the time to take on all three monotheistic religions at once in Religious People Really Suck), and that Stan Lee is His ultimate archnemesis. In fact, when the list got too long, people complained that He is insulting. God tried to explain Himself in Me? Insulting? and ended up insulting everyone even worse than before. When His girlfriend discovered what God said about women, she made Him read a completely voluntary statement.

Dead people in Heaven drive God crazy. Einstein scared God half to death when he told Him that sometimes He exists, and sometimes He doesn’t. Whenever Doctor Seuss comes to visit, God can’t stop rhyming for seven whole days!

Sometimes, God accidentally mentions His penis.

Since God has a blog, He also answers readers’ emails. Sometimes, though, they ask stupid questions. Sometimes the blind ask to be healed. Now you know that can only mean trouble, don’t you? When a person who actually loves God wrote to Him, we discovered the orgasmic power of prayer. A new mother rediscovered God and sent Him an email, only to receive His ire, not once, but twice. In our first email series, God took on Melissa, a cute six-year-old girl who asked Him to save her sister: Melissa, That Bitch Melissa Again, then A Line in the Sand. Sometimes, though, it’s as if people want God to yell at them.

God is prone to nostalgia. In His podcasts, he recalled the good old times like slavery, losing His virginity, songs priests sang to Him, how Moses loved the paparazzi, or even the one and only Marshmallow Jesus.

Some of the things God did in this blog can’t be categorized easily: When God got questions about His British accent, He tried assuming a horrific Texan accent. God likened Himself to Bond in License to Kill. One time, God had nothing to say. Another time, God wrote an autobiographical limerick. God also discovered that reading people’s minds is an awful burden. When God gives advice, we should listen. Here are a few pick up lines for the men out there. One time, in a moment of sobriety, God called Himself the C-Word… many, many times. You know God looks down at us, don’t you?

God needs to be popular. In a constant attempt to appeal to new audiences, He started a poll, searching for a popular new name. Later, God chose His new brand name, and kicked it off with the historic speech ‘Being Gaahrd Is Hard’ . Riding the wave of being Gaahrd, God asked us to choose His new trademark laughter. God’s short and catastrophic career as Gaahrd ended after a week with another historic speech, ‘Being Gaahrd is crud’. A month later, God set about trademarking His new battle cry. God was never good at holding referendums. One time God even tried to appeal to the street, retelling Genesis in the for shizzle vernacular.

Retelling Genesis is always fun, especially when you try to appeal to the Harry Potter readers. And if you’re wondering what really happened to Jesus, why not hear it from the horse’s mouth?

When a real reader, Rsmb1, asked God for transcripts of the podcasts, the response was… well… see for yourselves.

The internet has many uses. One time, God decided to put a pair of His balls for sale on eBay. Which, of course, left God with a taste for more balls.

At times, God starts acting like God. So He instituted new holidays as only a drunk God can; offered us the ten commandments of BS-ing; or simply peered into the future… of the podcast. Of course, blind faith is always important to a god. And blind faith must be exercised regularly or it is turned into doubt. Which means that it is time for some blind faith exercises.

When God explained His true stance regarding abortion (“It’s okay as long as it’s not the woman’s right to choose”) He accidentally says that there is no God. This leads to much confusion, which ends up with God going on strike, to prove that people need Him.

Every so often, God just wakes up feeling gay, gay, gay.

Sadly, not everyone loves God. One day God discovered that someone on the internet has started a blog called The Voice of God, making fun of Him. God was outraged. When people in an internet group called CIWI in Israel jumped to God’s defense, God took their side, and blasted The Voice of God.

I hope you enjoy the podcasts.

Thanks and kudos to Bobby Lax (the voice of God) and to Nir Yaniv (who recorded and edited the sound of God).

What’s next? The Voice of God may return every so often with a new comedy album. We’ll see.

Writing the Voice of God Comedy Project (Revisited)

May 3, 2011

(The following is a reprint of an article I wrote for the World SF Blog. It is about the technique of writing the experimental comedy podcast. Since all links have changed, here it is again.)

About a year ago, I began an online comedy project called The Voice of God. The Voice of God was a daily podcast, usually two to three minutes long. This was its premise: God is drunk, bitter, and has had it up to here with all of us. And so He begins a daily podcast in which He tells us what He thinks of us, generally rants and lets off steam, and answers readers’ comments and mails. As a comic background, God (portrayed by Bobby Lax) spoke in an impressive and respectable British accent, but his words were American street-speak.

Here is The Voice of God website. The last entry features a summing up of the best podcasts. Feel free to browse.

I began this as an experiment into comedy, to see how far I could push the envelope. These were the directions of my experiment: a) I wanted to see how quickly I could get readers from where they are (the normal place) to a place as far away as possible from that normal place, as quickly as possible; b) Could I create audio slapstick?

I’m going to share my experiments with you, and you can check the results for yourselves.

Audio Slapstick (Aural Slapstick)

Slapstick is visual form of comedy. Remember farces in which people rush in and out of doors? When the Marx Brothers fill a tiny room with 20 people constantly moving? When people strike each other so fast it’s too hard to follow? In all these examples of slapstick, human behavior suddenly turns into a visual machine that keeps pumping from its own inertia. Human behavior becomes machine-like, visually. That is slapstick.

How would this be represented in sounds?

This is how I tried to do it. I wanted to bring God (the character) to a place in which He said syllables that in any other context would sound completely random or meaningless. And yet the character must be brought to that place by way of a reasonable and logical path. In that way, even though God pronounces something ridiculous, the audience understands exactly what He is saying and how He got there.

Here are a few examples:

In Podcast #46, called simply ‘Meh’, God is going through a miserable and somber mood. He has nothing to say. Halfway through the podcast, He is so morose and so out of words, He begins a monologue of syllables, because He has nothing real to say and no energy to make something up. He begins with ‘blah’ and ‘meh’ and climaxes with ‘bring ding ding’. Further on, He gets even more desperate for wards, and begins another monologue consisting only of the word ‘plop’. The reason the ‘plop’ monologue works is because we understand His state of mind and the logical way by which He got to where He is. Check it out here.

In Podcast #67, called ‘For Shizzle’, God adopts the ‘for shizzle’ vernacular, which is American street-speak. Its users replace the endings of certain words with ‘izzle’. For example: ‘for shizzle’ means for ‘for sure’. In this podcast, God, wanting to appeal to a new demographic, retells the opening story of Genesis by translating it into street-speak. After explaining the language, what He’s going to do, and why, He begins: “In the begizzle there was nizzle [in the beginning there was nothing]. Nizzle and nizzle and nizzle everywhere you looked. Now, in the begizzle, except for nizzle, there was only Gizzle – that’s me. And the spirit of Gizzle flew all around the emptizzle, until it grew tiredizzle. And so Gizzle said, ‘let there be lizzle’! And, snappizle!, there was lizzle!”

Later on, Gizzle invents nightizle, which happens during the dizzle (dark): “And then He played with the lights witch all the time: lizzle dizzle, dizzle lizzle, lizzle dizzle, dizzle lizzle.” Now: even though that line has no known words, you understood it perfectly, didn’t you? That’s aural slapstick.

Another time, God introduced the word ‘tippity-tippity-too’, which He defined as the act of moving down or up the stairs quickly. He asked us to use it often, thus creating a butterfly effect that would save the universe. However, after that podcast, He discovered that He forgot to carry the minus sign. The new computations revealed that the use of the word would destroy the universe. And so, embarrassed about asking us to take it back, He spoke in Pig Latin. Pig Latin is a children’s ‘secret language’, which takes the first consonant of a word, puts it at the end of that word and adds an ‘ay’. Thus ‘nix’ is ‘ixnay’ and ‘amscray’ is ‘scram’. This led to the following introduction (Podcast #88): “Ixnay on the ippit-ippity-too-tay ing-thay.” (Nix on the tippity-tippity-too thing). He goes on, messing up Pig Latin itself: “Ast-lay ime-tay I asked you-tay to start using a new ord-way. Mainly, ‘tippity-tippity-too’ so as to form an utterfly-bay fect-fay on the universe.” This podcast, again, is mixed with aural slapstick. When I asked Bobby Lax, before recording, if he understood the text when he read it for the first time, he said “No. Because I didn’t take any drugs.”

Other experiments in aural slapstick were when God tried to adopt a Texan accent, or when God tried to institute new holidays.

Then there is the ‘regular’ sort of aural slapstick, the one in which the character simply makes ridiculous sounds. In the following case, God, constantly trying to improve His standing in the community, held a referendum, asking us to help Him choose a trademark laughter. A month later, He asked us to help Him choose a trademark battle cry.

A Stretch of Imagination

One of the points of art, and certainly what I try to do whenever I write, is to improve people’s ability to think outside the box by leading them there without them noticing the path. In testing myself and testing the audience, I tried to see how far I could bring the audience from point A (the normal, everyday place) to point B (as far away from point A as possible), and to see how quickly I could do it. Of course the audience must understand and like what they heard. Every podcast had to have at least one line that forced the audience to go to a new place fast and quickly.

Here are a few examples:

In Podcast #13, ‘Memories’, God is bored out of his mind, and can’t stop thinking and thinking about the old times. “You know the two things I really miss? I miss the Gilmore Girls. And also slavery.” Then he proceeds to reminisce, constantly getting those two confused in his mind. In this case, I brought the audience from point A (missing the Gilmore Girls) to point B (slavery and God’s Biblical role in it) in a few short sentences.

In Podcast #20 God talks about how humans are such a disappointment.  “You were my first experiment. You were my test bunnies. I was a God virgin before you. You are the first beings upon which I tore my God hymen.”

My guess is that God’s hymen was not an image you had in your minds when you began to read that paragraph.

Podcast #56 begins like this, with God sounding quite impressed: “Hello, folks. God here. And I’ve just discovered eBay. Wow. What a site! People will buy any sort of crap you put out there.” God then spends a few seconds talking about how much he needs money, finishing the thought with: “Anyway, I just put a pair of my balls for sale on eBay.”

My task, in each of the podcasts, was to cause a stretch and a leap inside the mind of my listeners. Hopefully, it worked.

Now, to see how far a podcast can really be taken, try the marshmallow Jesus podcast.


Naturally, any podcast featuring a drunk and bitter God would have satirical content in it. The Voice of God took on political correctness many times. Some of the more extreme were when God mentioned bad words, like the N-word, or the C-word (from my perspective, at least, it seems that it’s not words that hurt, it’s context that hurts).

When God explains the ‘for shizzle’ vernacular (see above), in particular, his opening line is “For shizzle my nizzles, this is your Gizzle speaking,” In trying to explain the language as well as his introduction, He says, “ ‘For shizzle’ means for sure. See? It’s simple. ‘My nizzles’ means ‘my friends’ or ‘my bosom buddies’. Or, as the Americans say it, ‘my niggers’.”

In podcast #59, God, bereft of His followers for a few hours, realizes that He is a cunt, a word that literally means ‘vagina’, but is a very dirty word in English-speaking countries. In this podcast, He succeeds in calling Himself the C-word about twenty times. And that’s not the crazy part. Check it out to see if you can handle it.

Moving on from political correctness to political issues.

One time, God tackled abortion. In podcast #92, God speaks of how people keep stopping Him on the street and asking Him, “Hey, God, what’s your stance on abortion?” And so God takes this opportunity to explain his stance: “My stance on abortion? It’s okay. As long as it’s not the woman’s right to choose.”

In podcast #108 we are introduced to blind faith exercises. Blind faith, like every muscle, if not exercised regularly, degenerates into doubts. Faith in God must be blind, and so God institutes blind faith exercises. Blind faith exercises are sort of like ‘Simon says’, only it’s ‘God says’. However, these simple exercises were not enough for God, and so in podcast #109 He instituted extreme blind faith exercises. Since homosexuality is a choice (a lifestyle choice, in fact), according to many true believers, God plays ‘God says’ with homosexuality and heterosexuality: “God says be a homosexual. God says be a heterosexual. God says be a homosexual. Be a heterosexual. A-ha! God didn’t say!”

Religious Reactions

One time I introduced myself to a certain internet group, saying I’m an author, a playwright, etc. And then I referred them to the The Voice of God podcast, which was then ongoing. The reaction of some people was extreme. Some wished for my complete failure, some for my roast in Hell. I quickly realized that the best way to tackle such reactions was to have God take their side. Here are the three podcasts in which God tackled The Voice of God.

In podcast #101, God learns that a certain blog called The Voice of God is making fun of Him and that some actor is claiming to be Him. He was glad to find, however, that brave heroes have leapt to His defense. In podcast #102, God, still ired, reads some of the heroes’ responses and finds two new best friends. In Podcast #103, God reads more responses, and concocts punishments for me, the writer of the blog.

These three podcasts are labeled under ‘my glass jaw’, because in the eyes of the offended, God is extremely sensitive to insults.

The Future of The Voice of God

After five months, and almost five hours of comedy, I finished work on The Voice of God. When I began, it was an experiment, and I was happy with joke per podcast. But as the podcasts continued, I created more jokes per podcast, and made the structure of the podcasts more complex. The last podcast, in fact, was a Doctor Seuss podcast. Whenever Doctor Seuss, who is now in Heaven, comes to visit God, God can’t stop rhyming for seven whole days. And so He did an entire podcast in the Doctor Seuss style.

The more complex the podcasts were, the more displeased I was with the fact that it was a daily podcast. A daily podcast meant that most podcasts although hopefully containing good material, were rarely perfect in form.

Since I like to take my time and do things as perfectly as possible (at least by my own standards), I eventually decided to leave The Voice of God, and return to it in album form. Hopefully, there are many comedy albums in the future. I already have plans for a five-minute aural slapstick monologue that will come at the end of the first album.

I hope you enjoyed this trip into the mind of a writer from the rim.

The Voice of God Comedy Project Revisited #1

May 3, 2011

The Voice of God comedy project has almost five hours of comedy. It was a daily comedy podcast that lasted five months, I think.

In my next post I’ll tell you all about it. In the meantime, the files themselves had to move from one place to another on the web, and the blog where the Voice of God used to be does not allow any changes. So I’m reposting the links to all the old podcasts:

Podcast #1: Kiss My Ass

Podcast #2: I’m Not Bitter

Podcast #3: Men Suck

Podcast #4: Cats

Podcast #5: I Need a Job

Podcast #6: Are You Really God?

Podcast #7: Delicacies

Podcast #8: Sarcasm

Podcast #9: Einstein

Podcast #10: That Bastard Einstein Again

Podcast #11: I Don’t Get No Respect

Podcast #12: My Penis

Podcast #13: Memories

Podcast #14: I Answer Important Questions

Podcast #15: Melissa

Podcast #16: That Bitch Melissa Again

Podcast #17: Emails About Melissa

Podcast #18: The A-Bomb

Podcast #19: Why Is the Sky Blue?

Podcast #20: My Hymen

Podcast #21: Glue Is Great

Podcast #22: I Am Not Wikipedia

Podcast #23: Tragic Poetry

Podcast #24: Women Suck

Podcast #25: Women Still Suck

Podcast #26: Feminism Sucks

Podcast #27: The Statement

Podcast #28: God Is Back In Town

Podcast #29: Leading the Blind

Podcast #30: Marshmallow Jesus

Podcast #31: License to Kill

Podcast #32: Atheists

Podcast #33: My Archnemesis

Podcast #34: Religious People Suck

Podcast #35: Religious People Really Suck

Podcast #36: Me, Insulting?

Podcast #37: The Secret of Life

Podcast #38: The Power of Prayer

Podcast #39: The Pregnant Lady

Podcast #40: The Pregnant Lady Again

Podcast #41: My Texan Accent

Podcast #42: My British Accent

Podcast #43: Reading Minds

Podcast #44: Closing Down the Earth

Podcast #45: I Need a New Nickname

Podcast #46: Meh

Podcast #47: Chocolat

Podcast #48: Please Sodomize Yourselves

Podcast #49: Dark Much?

Podcast #50: Best Questions Ever

Podcast #51: The God Sutra

Podcast #52: The God Fairy

Podcast #53: Eggs Expire

Podcast #54: Dating Sites Suck

Podcast #55: Pick-Up Lines

Podcast #56: My Balls

Podcast #57: More Balls

Podcast #58: Dear Rsmb1

Podcast #59: The C-Word

Podcast #60: The Missing Drink

Podcast #61: Performance Anxiety

Podcast #62: Seinfeld

Podcast #63: The New Kosher

Podcast #64: The Sinner

Podcast #65: Regrets

Podcast #66: New Holidays

Podcast #67: For Shizzle

Podcast #68: The Song

Podcast #69: Because I Said So

Podcast #70: The BS Commandments

Podcast #71: Moses and the Papparazzi

Podcast #72: Human Intollerant

Podcast #73: The Big Move

Podcast #74: The Referendum

Podcast #75: The Referundum Results

Podcast #76: Being Gaahrd Is Hard

Podcast #77: Me, Elitist?

Podcast #78: My Laugh

Podcast #79: Focus Groups

Podcast #80: Y2K

Podcast #81: Being Gaahrd Is Crud

Podcast #82: Return of the God Fairy

Podcast #83: Top Regrets

Podcast #84: Last Requests

Podcast #85: Holding My Breath

Podcast #86: Cute Humans

Podcast #87: Tippity Tippity Too

Podcast #88: Ippity Ippity Too Tay

Podcast #89: Multiple Choice

Podcast #90: I Hate Nothing

Podcast #91: Evolution Sucks

Podcast #92: Abortion

Podcast #93: The Booboo

Podcast #94: I Am Not Unique

Podcast #95: The Mysterious No. 9

Podcast #96: No. 9’s Secret

Podcast #97: Truths Revealed

Podcast #98: The Pill Paradox

Podcast #99: The Cure for Cancer

Podcast #100: The Strike Ends

Podcast #101: The Voice of God Sucks

Podcast #102: My Heroes

Podcast #103: Down with the Voice of God

Podcast #104: My Battle Cry

Podcast #105: Not Bitter At All

Podcast #106: A Gay Old Time

Podcast #107: Hindsight

Podcast #108: Blind Faith Exercises

Podcast #109: Blind Faith – the Extreme Version

Podcast #110: Bargain Basement Deals

Podcast #111: Doctor Seuss

Article: The Lies SF Fans Tell Themselves

May 1, 2011

SF Revu was kind enough to publish an article of mine about the lies we SF fans tell ourselves.


‘Generation E’ Reviewed at SFF Portal

May 1, 2011

Generation E first appeared in Midnight East. Later it was translated to Hebrew and appeared in the anthology Once Upon a Future. Once Upon a Future has been reviewed at the SFF Portal. Here’s an excerpt:

Hasson creates the kind of story that sends you to your favorite search engine to make sure that it is just a work of fiction. Part of this effect derives from the author’s choice to write it like a journalistic column. I liked the tone, the flow and the balance of the work. The father’s half sarcastic, half appreciative voice is convincing, amusing and very readable. The social critique was nicely transmitted—clearly but not too forcefully.