Author Archives: Christine

New Website!

We’re pleased to finally announce our new website courtesy of Darby M. Dixon III of Folded Note Design. You can also follow us on Facebook.

The first episode will be released soon! In the meantime, please join us on Saturday at AWP


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Podcasting: New Opportunities for Dramatic Writing at AWP 2015

Join us at AWP 2015!

Justin and I are excited to announce that we will be talking about how we developed our forthcoming podcast series, Munchen, Minnesota, at AWP this year (which is, of course, in Minnesota). Our session is 12:00 – 1:15 pm on Saturday, April 11, so skip lunch and don’t sneak out of the conference a day early, ok?

Here’s the description:

Podcasting: New Opportunities in Dramatic Writing. Intrigued by TV writing, but don’t want to move to LA? Why not develop your own podcast series? Podcasts are more popular than ever, require minimal financial investment, and are easy to distribute. Using our supernatural comedy-drama series, Munchen, Minnesota, as an example, we’ll discuss coming up with an idea, how to apply the basics of TV writing to your podcast script, beat sheets, character arcs, and season arcs, and how to cast, record and market your series.

Our first episode is in post-production right now, so if it’s not released by April 11, come hear us talk about what giant failures we are.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 12.39.36 PM

(Just kidding, it’s in the program, so we have to finish it.)

Thanks again to our director Mindy Herman, sound designer Angie Hayes (and sound designer emeritus Sam Fisher), Raymond Bobgan and Cleveland Public Theatre for their generous and ongoing support, and of course, our illustrious and unparalleled cast.

See you in Minneapolis!

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Live Recording of Munchen: Tuesday, January 13

Well, the day has come.

Pretty much two years to the day since we first envisioned Jonathan arriving in Munchen, Steve peering at us through the blinds, and Meredith out back skinning a dead possum, we’ll be recording the first of eleven episodes in front of a live studio audience.  You’re invited! If being part of the next big thing in storytelling isn’t enough for you, there will be FREE BEER.

Details below….

WHAT: Join us for a live recording of the pilot episode of the podcast “Munchen, Minnesota.” Like a lot of older industrial cities in the Midwest, Munchen has fallen on hard times. As people and businesses have moved away, many of the town’s neighborhoods have emptied, leaving old houses vacant and crumbling. Crime is rampant. The public schools are in disarray. But Munchen’s got an even more serious problem: it’s on the verge of a supernatural infestation. The threat seems to loom ever larger as the town declines. And the only people with the power to save it are a geeky teenage girl, her gay librarian father, and an ambitious city planner who didn’t have a clue what he was in for when he transferred from the East Coast.

WHEN: Tuesday, January 13, 2015, 7:30 pm

WHERE: The Parish Hall at CPT
(Just east of the Gordon Square Theatre Box Office, next to the Church)
Cleveland Public Theatre
6407 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH 44102

WHO: Featuring Leilani Barrett, John Busser, Arthur Chu, Carlos Cruz, Jenna Fink, Bob Kilpatrick, Derek Koger, Doug Kusak, Greg Mandryk, Nina McCollum, Lynna Metrisin, Steven Schuerger and Lisa Van Gaasbeek. Written by Christine Borne and Justin Glanville. Directed by Mindy Childress Herman. Sound Design by Samuel Watkins Fisher.

HOW MUCH? Suggested donation of $5 is welcomed at the door, but not required

WHY SHOULD I? For purposes of fun, supporting the arts, and also FREE Magic Hat beer

This recording is presented as part of the monthly Dark Room series at Cleveland Public Theatre. The Dark Room is a place where writers take center stage and their work has a chance to grow. The Dark Room is an ongoing event held on the second Tuesday of each month. The Dark Room affords emerging and veteran playwrights the space and resources to develop new works. It offers a venue to workshop plays, novels, poems, or any other written work in a supportive, yet critical environment. After the recording, at 8:30 pm, there will be an open mic session for writers and actors.

Questions or media requests: munchen.minnesota [at] gmail [dot] com

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Giveaway Time!

Munchen is now on Twitter — you can follow us at @MunchenMN. (We’re used to being followed by the pitter-pat of tiny feet, so it won’t creep us out too much.)

So to celebrate (and because we’ve had the Dark Crystal on the brain lately), we’ve got an early Christmas present for all of you Dark Crystal fans out there:

If we can get to 100 followers by Friday, December 20, we’ll give away a free critique of your Dark Crystal Author Quest contest entry (10,000 words max).

Our critique will include:

  • A one-page editorial letter
  • Suggestions on plot, character, setting, and pacing;
  • Light copy editing

And, since the deadline is coming up fast, we’ll get it back to you by Monday, December 23.

Just follow us on Twitter and retweet this tweet:

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 10.40.05 PM

(It’s easy to find – it’s been too cold to tweet much.)

If we get to 100 followers by 9 pm EST on Friday, we’ll pick a winner. If you want to be considered for the drawing, just tweet “please consider me for the drawing” at us — and then get off the Internet and get to work on your story.

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When Single Shines the Triple Sun, or, Stay Tuned! Major Dark Crystal Stuff Coming Next Week

Any Dark Crystal fans out there?

By now, you’ve surely watched the Restored Original Cut that was posted on Mental Floss last week. You haven’t? Stop what you’re doing and watch:

Justin and I watched this more or less immediately (#nerdalert). This weekend we’re going to sit down and formally discuss it, and next week, we’ll post a transcript of our geekish gabfest. Want to participate? Drop us a line in the comments!

(Oh, and by the way, is anyone else participating in the Dark Crystal Author Quest? Submissions are due December 31, so get off the Internet and get to work!)


Filed under Movies, World Building

St. Lucia and the Festival of Lights

Munchen, Minnesota might not be a real city, but we’ve had a totally great and never, ever nerve-wracking time making it as realistic as possible. Like many places in the Upper Midwest, Munchen was settled by German and Scandinavian immigrants, who brought along their Old World holiday traditions. The Christmas season is a huge deal in Munchen. And while we can’t tell you yet what happens, rest assured, something really big happens at the St. Lucia Festival.

When is St. Lucia’s Day?

St. Lucia’s Day is celebrated in Sweden on December 13. Although she was an Italian saint (who got her eyes poked out by Roman soldiers, btw), the Scandinavians seem to love St. Lucia because she brings along the one thing they’re in short supply of during the winter: light. Which is why it’s often called the Festival of Lights.

How do you celebrate St. Lucia’s Day?

By dressing up little girls in white robes and putting flaming ivy crowns on their sweet little heads, of course. (Er, I will let this informative video speak for itself.)

[WARNING: the Sankta Lucia song is a powerful earworm.]

You also eat and drink. The traditional foods of St. Lucia’s Day include lussekatter, or saffron buns shaped like cats (with raisins for eyes!) and glögg (try this recipe for Lord Commander Mormont’s Spiced Wine from the Inn at the Crossroads, the official food blog of Game of Thrones).

Where can I celebrate St. Lucia’s Day in the United States?

Besides Munchen, there are a few places you can celebrate the Festival of Lights:

Located in the Chicago neighborhood of Andersonville, which has been a Swedish enclave since before the Great Fire of 1871, the Swedish American Museum hosts a St. Lucia’s Day procession every December 13.

For nearly 40 years, the Bemidji, MN chapter of the American Swedish Institute has held a St. Lucia’s Day festival that concludes with (what else) a smorgasbord.

And on the east coast, the Swedish Women’s Educational Association holds an annual Swedish Yuletide (sadly, the date has passed for this year).

Have you ever attended at St. Lucia’s Day procession? Or better yet, have you ever been in a St. Lucia’s Day procession? Let us know!


Filed under Folklore, Holiday Traditions, Scandinavians, Weird Midwest

Krampus in America: 5 Places to Meet the Christmas Devil

By now if you are a grumpy American who hates happiness, joy, and Christmas, you’ve heard of Krampus.

Wait! I haven’t. But I do hate all those things. Tell me more.

Krampus is the shaggy-haired. horned sidekick of St. Nicholas, who whacks bad children with this bundle of sticks, throws them into a bucket and takes them to…I’m not sure where exactly Krampus takes them to, and as long as it’s not my house, I really don’t want to know.

When does Krampus come calling?

December 5th is Krampusnacht, the night St. Nicholas and his pal parade through town scaring the bejeezus out of children. While a tradition in the Alpine countries, Krampus is relatively new to the United States. But he’s gaining popularity, which cheers my black little heart.

I have some rotten kids I need to shuffle off on someone. Where can I meet Krampus?

Here’s a not-totally-comprehensive list of krampuslaufen in the United States:

The third annual Krampuslauf Philadelphia encourages revelers to dress up like other terrifying pagan figures such as the Yule Lads. Here’s a bit from last year’s lauf (although I don’t think any of these kids look properly terrorized):

There were a few more screamers at last year’s Krampus Night in Bloomington, Indiana:

Then again, I don’t see any children at The PDX Krampusnacht Ball. Maybe in Portland, Krampus throws hipsters in his basket and takes them back to their crappy Midwest hometowns.

Speaking of which: you can also eat Breakfast with Krampus in Rochester, New York. I’ve long suspected that Krampus takes all those rotten kids to the Rust Belt, so this doesn’t really surprise me. You’re invited to bring an unwrapped toy for needy children, but “if it’s crap, Krampus is going to harrass you and drag you straight to hell.”

Last but not least, Krampus Los Angeles goes large: there are multiple events throughout the city during the month of December. Also: don’t miss The Truth About Krampus by Krampusfest LA director Al Ridenour on Atlas Obscura.

Any Krampus events near you? Let us know in the comments!

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The World’s Largest Turkey

“Even serious art here tends to run toward the whimsical, and on the less serious side there is a frightening amount of large roadside sculpture in the state….” – Minnesota Curiosities

Frazee, Minnesota is home to Big Tom, the World’s Largest Turkey. The original Big Tom was built in 1985, fashioned out of fiberglass, styrofoam and cardboard over a metal frame. He stood 22 feet high and for 12 years delighted the sightseers of Frazee. As he was being cleaned in 1997, Big Tom caught on fire, the flames shooting up 30 feet in the air.

In this video, the two brothers responsible for setting Big Tom on fire demonstrate the true extent of Minnesota nice.

BONUS: in case you want to see another Midwestern roadside attraction going up in flames, here’s the great Touchdown Jesus fire of 2010:


Filed under Minnesota, Weird Midwest

“They say it’s a fish…originally.”

Justin and I are finishing up the third episode of Welcome to Munchen this week. At this point in our story, fourteen-year-old Meredith Halvorsen is getting ready for the annual Lutefisk Championship. Meredith has a bunch of…unusual hobbies and is a bit of odd duck because instead of rebelling against her local culture like a normal teenager, she embraces every lye-soaked bit of it.

The fun of world-building is doing the research, and in this case doing the research involved me watching a bunch of tutorials on how to make lutefisk. In this video from Lakes Country TV, I learned what Nelson’s customers expect in a good lutefisk, and what will keep them from coming back.

TRIGGER WARNING: If Rick Steves gives you the spinny eyeballs, you’re going to get really excited watching the host of Lakes Country TV. (See this video of a baby tasting chocolate for the first time and you’ll get an idea of how I feel about Rick Steves.)

BONUS: there’s a really big hint in this video about the supernatural infestation that Munchen’s about to experience. Guess what it is, and you win 900 pounds of free lutefisk.*

*Not really. I mean, what would you even do with all that lutefisk.

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Writing Exercise: Cannery Row

If you can think of setting as character, then Cannery Row is one of my favorite character studies.

This is not a plot-heavy novel. If you ask someone who hasn’t read Cannery Row in a long time what it’s about, they’ll probably say something like “there were some hobos, and this scientist. I think there were frogs. Someone threw a party.”

John Steinbeck described Cannery Row as a love letter to Monterey, California, the fish canning town where he’d lived during the Great Depression. The Monterey Steinbeck depicts, full of hobos, flophouses, and prostitutes, disappeared after the fishing industry collapsed during the 1950s. If not for Cannery Row, this particular snapshot of culture might have been lost forever.

Exercise: Choose a place that you know well and write a description of that place in the style of the opening paragraph of Cannery Row.

Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses. Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, ‘whores, pimps, gamblers and sons of bitches,’ by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, ‘Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,’ and he would have meant the same thing.


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