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September 2, 2022

Commentary: Asteroid Annie/Arnie & True Crime

Trigger Warnings: 
Reading Time: 33 Minutes
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Our commentary about three episodes:

Richard: Hey Terry.

Terrie: Hey Richard.

Richard: We got a lot to talk about.

Terrie: Yes we do.

Richard: In this episode we’re going to answer some questions that were sent in by two listeners. One is Traveling Robot from Novel AI and The K-Man, who’s actually one of our patrons. And the first question is from Traveling Robot. Give us a little insight into your writing process.

Terrie: Okay, so first of all, the show has changed quite a bit from when it started. The original idea was to, as much as possible, make everything AI generated, from the story to the artwork to the music, videos, even the, I don’t even know if we’re still using it or not, but the canned intro is my voice. It’s not me saying that. That’s you using some kind of AI to make me say those words. So the idea was to have something. It didn’t matter if it really made sense or not because it was just kind of to listen to, to zone out to. Then along the way you and I divvied up parts. So I took on the story, writing, you do editing, sound, now you’re doing the videos. We kind of split up art and we split up prompting the videos, but we found that it was easier if we kind of divided our skills. When that happened, my writerly self took over, although when I write my own stories, I don’t use AI at all. But my passion is story writing, story making, finding a way to write a story that is emotional and effective and touches somebody in some way or another. So as I started playing with the AI and I’m using Novel AI at the moment, I wanted to have a layered story. I wanted to have characters. I want to have a story arc and just something a little more. And that’s when I started playing with it. And as time goes by, it is more me wrangling and adding and editing the story than it was at the beginning.

Richard: What I did in the first two episodes was I had the AI spit out a whole bunch of text and I kind of put the story together the way that David Bowie used to write his songs where he would write random lines on scraps of paper and then he would rearrange them. That’s kind of like what I did with Elvis and the first one about the guy that was dead, talking about being dead. So you did that too. Did you do that with the vampire story? Kind of just had the AI generate a whole bunch of stuff and rearrange it into something that sounded right.

Terrie: So answering the questions that we have, one of them actually did ask that question, like how much do you outline at all? and does some form of outline get fed into the AI? First of all, the way I use Novel AI is very simple. I don’t use all the bells and whistles yet. Up until now, how it’s done is basically I have a prompt, I feed it in and I see what comes out and then I can steer it. I can keep parts that I like. I don’t have an outline per se at all. It starts, the story goes and things pop up and then I’m like, oh, I can use this or I can’t use this. So kind of like you said, to me it’s a puzzle that I have to find a way to make it look nice.

One time you said that you imagine that we are in a boardroom or something and we’re writing and the AI is the kind of the crazy person in the room that doesn’t get mad if you say, no, we can’t use that or hey, yeah, we will use that. I like that. That’s very interesting. For me, I think of it more as puzzle pieces. The paradox of choice. If you tell me to write a story, I will start a hundred different stories and none of them will get finished. If you tell me to write a story about a Japanese mermaid that washes up on the shore of the Seychelles with a rooster under her arm that can talk, then I can write a story.

I like the focus of having the constraints and the AI to me gives me those constraints. So I pump in the prompt, things come out. I don’t feel bad about cutting anything, but I do want to use as much as possible.

Halfway through, I usually have my ending and then I can write toward that. You can also tell, I think if you listen to Asteroid Annie, Screaming Youth, Valentine’s Day, and Arnie, the earlier ones are probably more AI driven. You can tell by the wording and stuff. So right now I’m just kind of feeling what works best.

Richard: Was there anything in the Asteroid, Arnie, or Annie stories or the true crime story that wasn’t originally thought up by AI that we stuck in there? Like for example, the Mushiblooms, that was AI. The guy in the true crime story that resembled Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs, he was in there originally. AI came up with that and we just kind of shaped it into Buffalo Bill, right?

Terrie: Yes and no. Yes, the Mushiblooms. That’s absolutely 100% AI. Hutt Poppa. So Hutt Poppa, the name is AI. But what I did is when the Mushiblooms originally attacked, I wanted there to be like a boss. So then I would say something like, and then the boss character walked in, his name was, its name was, and then Hutt Poppa. And then it would go with that. And then it described what Hutt Poppa looked like. So sometimes, like I said, you can steer it and I think people who use this a lot are much better at it than I am. But yeah, that’s part of the fun. That’s a totally different experience than writing my own stories. In a way it’s more freeing because I’m allowed to be weird too. I mean, my stories originally are weird, but in this way, you know, if the AI is talking about Hutt Poppa and Mushibloom and swinging tentacles that have teeth at the end of them, then I can do anything and it’s pretty much not going to up that. So it kind of gives me leeway to do that.

Another thing that I thought of recently is, like I said, originally AI wasn’t very well known when you first had the idea for Uncanny Robot. But now so many people are using it that just thinking of a good prompt, putting it in, making a story and reading it, kind of anybody could do that. I mean, it’s going to be a different story, but it’s not so unique. And I think our unique spin is what we can add to that. So these stories have my whatever stamp it is on it. This is the way I would tell a story and someone else, you know, they’re going to do the same thing, but their stories are going to be different because it’s going to be their way of telling a story. So I think that’s what gives us some originality, even though this is AI.

Okay. And there’s another question here from Traveling Robot. What parts of the writing do you think the AI does well and where does it fall short? Again, I do not use it as much as a lot of people use it. My personal opinion so far, and what I’m doing is that the AI does descriptions incredibly well. Who would ever think of skin that looked like melted butter with seaweed? It also does names, Tizzleblast, Blastcantor, that kind of stuff is really fun.

And another thing I think that the AI does well is fighting scenes. I quite enjoy reading the fighting scenes and they just go on and on. The one in Asteroid Annie, I had to stop it, but I didn’t want to stop it because it was going, it was getting so much fun. So fighting, a lot of action and descriptions, new words. What it doesn’t do so well, I think is telling a story, like an actual story beginning in a story arc.

Richard: It doesn’t know what a story arc is.

Terrie: I don’t know how to use all the extras on it. I don’t know if you could tell it like this story is going to be this length and it needs to end here. Maybe you can do that, but you know, the time spent learning how to do that, or I could just do it myself. I’m weighing those all the time. But yes, characterization, plot in general is still quite weak, I believe.

So I haven’t visited Novel AI in about two or three months because we’ve been working on Asteroid Annie this whole time. Every day there’s something new coming out. So these problems that I’m mentioning now that I’m thinking, oh, it doesn’t do a story or it doesn’t do a story arc, you know, they could be solved already as far as I know. So I’m looking forward to getting back into it and see what’s going on.

Richard: K-Mark wanted to know…

Terrie: K-Mank!

Richard: K-Mank. He asked, what made the Mushiblooms turn evil? What’s your idea about that?

Terrie: My idea was that it’s two totally parallel, different universes. So in one, the Mushiblooms have turned out to be friendly, cute little tiny things. And in the other one, they’re these evil, tentacle, slapping assholes.

Richard: Yeah, right. They’re the same characters. Like, you know, Moomaroof in one universe is Moomaroof and the other universe, she’s the hero. And sorry, go ahead.

Terrie: I’m raising my hand because this is where we had this conversation and I stopped it because I didn’t want to have the conversation then because I wanted to have the conversation now. I don’t think so. I want to preface this with something you said a couple commentaries ago. You said, one of the wonderful things about AI storytelling is no one is going to tell you you’re wrong. You can think whatever you want and you’re right because there is no right answer. In this one, I think Asteroid Annie and Asteroid Arnie are the same person. They’re kind of like a whole.

Richard: The yin and the yang.

Terrie: Yeah. So depending on the universe and how they’re dealing with that universe, they’re either one or the other, whatever works best at that time. And then Moomaroof and our unnamed protagonist, because in Asteroid Annie there’s no name, are different sidekicks, not related at all.

Richard: Oh.

Terrie: Right? Totally different than what you’re thinking.

Richard: So the entity that is either Asteroid Arnie or Annie is the same and the sidekick was a different person altogether.

Terrie: So for example, Batman would have Robin over here. Batman would have Batgirl over here in a different universe. But I do think that that leads naturally to down the road after we do more episodes of all these other things, a mashup where Moomaroof gets to meet this cyborg man human thing and what happens there. And we can get Asteroid Annie and Asteroid Arnie to meet up too. So to me, this is just backstory and front story that we can add later.

Richard: Asteroid Annie’s sidekick. He was human at the end of the 21st century because there was something that caused a lot of radiation and cancer and whatever when he was a child. And he’s been destroyed and remade so many times that there’s probably not a whole lot left of him. But he’s got some disjointed memories still in him. And he doesn’t always remember because he was getting torn apart by the Mushiblooms. And it kind of dawned on him, this has happened to me before, over and over again. And I’m kind of getting tired of it.

Terrie: When that happened, I thought of it as one of those, I don’t know if you’ve ever had this before, but one of those traumatic memories you have in your childhood that you blank out and it’s gone for most of your life and then something happens and it comes back. And that’s what I imagined. that scene with him is, you know, he’s getting the shit kicked out of him and then all of a sudden he’s like, Whoa, wait a minute.

Richard: I remember before. Yeah.

Terrie: One thing that really interesting about telling that part of the story I wanted to say is the AI was telling it and I was imagining it as a man who was waiting for Asteroid Annie to come and save him. And then that one scene came where he’s getting beat up, beat up, beat up. And it said it’s something clicked in my head and a skylight vision or something. And that blew my mind because I’m like, Oh, okay, this, this isn’t a man. This is something else. I let it go. I kept it in the story. And as I’m going along, it’s still kind of acting like a man. Nothing’s really changed. I haven’t really prompted it to do, you know, cyborg or anything. Then that scene came up where I’ve been ripped apart so many times and I was like, that is beautiful and it will work. I don’t have to change anything. So I left that in. It makes you ask a lot of questions about his backstory, right?

Richard: Right. And also ties into the fact that when Asteroid Arnie was the protagonist, he disappeared. He kind of blew up.

Terrie: Yes. Yes.

Richard: So that ties into the fact that this guy has been destroyed and made over so many times.

Terrie: That’s where you got that.

Terrie: All right. I’ll give you that. Mine was, my vision was time-wise. these parallel universes are going a little out of sync, but almost next to each other. So when Asteroid Arnie blows up at the end, what is happening there in the other universe is, that is when Asteroid Annie is getting called. Okay. So when our unnamed protagonist makes the call, like, you know, Asteroid Annie come save me. And she comes and she appears and she says, I’m busy right now. It was your idea to do the Defender, which is hilarious. So we left it in. But my idea was that she was actually fighting in the other universe. Asteroid Annie was Arnie fighting the Blast Canters and the Blast Cannons and everything else. And then blew up, saved the day, zipped on over to this universe with Asteroid Annie and saved unnamed protagonist.

Richard: I don’t think anybody got the joke that I made with the sound design. When she appears as a hologram, the background noise is the eighties video game Defender, which really was my favorite video game. My favorite arcade. I put so many quarters into that. So my idea was she’s actually playing defender in her lab.

Terrie: Goofing Around.

Richard: Right. And she’s like, I’m too busy to help you right now because I’m trying to get my high score. No one’s going to get this. You can hear in Defender that she loses a life.

Terrie: Oh, there she is.

Richard: And then that’s when she comes over. Yeah. And then he goes to the lab and he sees the Defender machine and it’s the same sound effects.

Terrie: You can hear him in the background. Wow. You have a Defender.

Richard: That was my favorite. So that was like an inside joke only to myself.

Terrie: There’s a lot of audio and sound effect Easter eggs in these stories. I mean, we don’t really talk about a lot of them and I kind of hope later down the road, people will come and say, Hey, wait a minute. Did that happen? Did that say that?

Richard: Yeah. My absolute favorite one is whenever they get into the hovercar, there’s the fasten seatbelt alarm.

Terrie: Right. And on the new one, on the Arnie, it wasn’t there, but on the Annie, you can actually hear the seatbelt. It’s so good. I love that. I think one thing both of us like to do, I like to do it with storytelling and you like to do it with your storytelling, which would be the sound and the music and the audio is just layers, just layer to make it something really rich. So this isn’t like a 2D, you know, cardboard story, A to B to C finished. I mean, there’s lots of stuff going on.

Richard: The beginning of Asteroid Annie seemed too much like a cookie cutter radio drama episode from, you know, the golden days of radio. So I wanted to update it in some way. So there has to be comedy angst, satire, or something like that. So the whole thing about the voices in the background, that was, that was my idea.

Terrie: That was your idea. That was, I want to say that it made it so much better because originally I was writing it as that, as you just narrating because you have a very nice voice and you’re telling a story and we could have some sound behind it. But the character needed, they needed to have the front facing them and then the real them.

Richard: And that’s the difference between storytelling now and storytelling in the past. I think is that, yeah, because you know, in the golden age of radio, the characters were pretty one-sided and I don’t think that works anymore. People want to see more than that.

Terrie: I absolutely agree with you there. And then you have the problem of how do you do that with audio only, right? You can have something on TV and you, and you can see what’s going on. You don’t want to do the, “As you know, Bob.” If you don’t have the visuals, I’m handing you a piece of paper and you, and someone can hear that and they’re not sure exactly what it is, but I am giving you this Bob, I’m giving you this piece of paper and it’s got the instructions you wrote that say we should go to the, so you have to figure out a way to tell a story. This is what we’re trying to figure out is how to tell a story in words, acting, sound, music, and let’s sound effects. And it’s incredibly fun, incredibly difficult. I think we’re doing pretty good.

Richard: I listened to a lot of other audio dramas and I hear a lot of them trying to build the entire world in the first five minutes of episode one. It’s asking a lot of the listener to build the entire world in their head in the first five minutes so that you can tell the rest of the story.

Terrie: Yeah. And I think that might be why I don’t listen to so many audio dramas. I try and I don’t want to say they fall short, but for me, and maybe I have like no attention span. What I try to do with my stories and I think you do too, is we try to write something that we would want to listen to. When I write my regular stories that have nothing to do with AI, that’s what I do. When I sit down to write a story that’s just for me, just for some publication I think, okay, what do I want to read? When I go back and I edit and I rewrite, I read it again and I read the first paragraph and I’m like, okay, would I put this down after this? Oh, I would. Okay, no, I need to fix that. I need to make that more interesting or I need to do something. And I think the same thing with these scripts, these little audio dramas that we’re doing. And I’m pretty sure, I’m absolutely sure that you do the same thing. You’re like, okay, I’m listening to this. That show didn’t really do that very well. Maybe this is the solution. Maybe I could do this to make it more interesting.

Coming back to the beginning of Asteroid Annie, what we had was we had narration, which, you know, it’s interesting if you want to listen to it, but what could make that more interesting? And you came up with the whole idea of him underneath the narration, you know, fighting the Mushibloom and talking to them, which to this day I will pee myself listening to some of those lines. They are so good. And I saw somewhere, I think it was Reddit, but someone did say that it is kudos, congratulations to you and the editing that you could do that, that you can make this story where it’s working on one level, the narration, and then you have the acting underneath it, plus all the sound and all the music. And it was perfectly understandable and he gave you like a high, high five, yo.

Richard: The reason why they’re separated is because I separated the tone of the two voices. The narrator is one microphone and me in the background is actually my iPhone on a table and me kind of standing back from it. It has a different tone to both of them, so they’re separated. And had I done both in the same microphone, you wouldn’t know which one’s which.

Terrie: That’s a good trick.

Richard: Right. And the whole thing about us making a show that we would listen to ourselves, our original idea, I kind of tried it and I listened back to it and I thought I wouldn’t listen to this. You know, just AI generated whatever gibberish to fall asleep to. I wouldn’t subscribe to a podcast like that. So that’s why we didn’t do it.

Terrie: Not only would I not listen to it, but kind of anybody could do it.

Richard: So do you think the Mushiblooms turned evil? Do you think they were good and then something happened that made them turn evil? Because I don’t think so.

Terrie: I thought that since it was a parallel universe, that the Mushiblooms were born and they grew differently and in one world it was a idyllic, you know, they were caring and love and all this and they became cute little creatures while in the other one something happened.

And I’m very, if I say so myself, heavy handed in my social commentary, if you caught it. Asteroid Annie’s, you know, remember three things. Was it shake jar, open jar, you know, be kind to the babies or something. Be kind to the babies. Oh, what’s that mean? Well, they all die and then the eggs are in their little bone cups. So they’re going to hatch again, right? The ending to me is these eggs are going to hatch. There’s going to be new Mushibloom. They’re not formed yet and our unnamed protagonist, you and Asteroid Annie will raise them lovingly and it will become a better future.

Richard: Interesting. I thought they all died. I thought the entire race of Mushiblooms was eradicated.

Terrie: I think I can say that you’re wrong. No, I’m just saying that because that’s why I actually added the bone cup, the obsidian eggs, because I wanted there to be hope at the end. Like it could get all wiped out, but even now in our world, when everything is looking so bleak, I think we need to find something to hang on to some kind of hope. So I think it was Traveling Robot that asked about outlining and the ending and stuff. That’s what my ending was. After I got halfway through, I figured out, okay, this is what’s going to happen. The bad ones are going to get exterminated, but there’s going to be a way to save the Mushibloom. And maybe, you know, maybe these parallel universes aren’t side by side. Maybe one’s ahead of the other one. And when they get reborn, there’ll be the fluffy, cute ones with the cute little voices. Who knows?

Richard: Interesting. Because the protagonist and Asteroid Annie walked away from the dead Mushiblooms and there was nothing about, we’re going to leave them there to incubate.

Terrie: Maybe the turtles will get on top of them and warm them up.

Richard: I think what you’re saying is like, they’re like frog eggs.

Terrie: And they’re going to, yeah. I mean, these, if you think about it, the different universes, and these are only two and we’ve got like hundreds and hundreds of thousands of millions of universes and these Mushibloom are kind of like the center creature. So they’re resilient. They’re going to, they’re going to stick around. So no, mine is that they’re going to go in, they’re going to, you know, have some tea, zip, whatever’s going to happen there. And then, you know, having some tea is a euphemism. And then, you know, the next day, maybe they’ll go out and the turtles will hatch them and then there’ll be sweet little Mushibloom. Yeah. Absolutely a hopeful story that one was, believe it or not.

Richard: So maybe that’s what the laboratory is for.

Terrie: Could be. I didn’t realize you didn’t catch that. I was wondering if anyone caught that. It was pretty, did anyone catch that? If you caught that, let me know. To me, it felt very heavy handed. The be kind to the babies. And then all of a sudden there’s these eggs and…

Richard: I didn’t understand what be kind to the babies was. I thought it was just a random AI thing. Okay.

Terrie: All that takes place off screen.

Richard: We’re moving backwards in time. So let’s move on to the true crime parody.

Terrie: That one was hard.

Richard: That started out as an April fool’s episode. Little did we know that everybody hates April fools and anybody who makes an April fool’s episode is an unfunny asshole.

Terrie: Didn’t know that.

Richard: We found out 10 seconds after we posted that episode that everybody hates April fools.

Terrie: Still a good episode though.

Richard: Yeah. After I deleted every reference to April fools.

Terrie: So with that one, again, the idea was April fools, Oh, this is going to be so much fun. We’re not going to do this robot stuff anymore. We’re going to be true crime because true crime is so huge.

Richard: Right. And nobody wants to listen to AI stories.

Terrie: Making the story was really hard with this one and you saved that story. And let me tell how you did that. I don’t listen to true crime. You don’t listen to true crime. So we were kind of catching up and we were listening separately to different shows and trying to…

Richard: Yeah, you were listening to the indie shows and I was listening to the Parcast, the Spotify Parcast shows. Parcast was making true crime podcasts in a way that was kind of like a manufacturing line and they got bought off by Spotify. So I was listening to those, like what is their format and what do their hosts sound like? And you were going the other way. You were listening to the indie podcasts and then what happened?

Terrie: From what I listened to is you have a crime and you have two people talking about it and they kind of exchange information like this happened this, Oh, what do you think about it? And it’s just like a discussion and they kind of slowly reveal the clues or what happened. or the cop did this or they found this. And it was so hard for me to try to get the AI to do that. Even the crime itself, it wouldn’t stay long enough on kind of the chitchat. And this is back when I was doing more toward AI and taking myself out of it. So I was depending more on the AI to do the heavy lifting here. I could get the crime, but then it would just start adding all these details and it just got crazy. But I had the farmer, so I had, okay, there’s a farmer, he’s in the middle of nowhere. and it brought me the cow named Nelly Girl, which I thought was fantastic. And Nelly Girl gurgled and I’m like, I can use that. And it wasn’t working. I couldn’t get it to work. And I think I had the people, I had a couple of people like together in a van traveling and they came across the murder. So I got to that point and I’m like, what do I do? And you said…

Richard: Well, because I was listening to the Parcast stories and they are voiceover narration that tell a story that is dramatized. You’ve got two people, a man and a woman who are the voiceover artists. And once in a while, the voiceover goes into the drama.

Terrie: Yeah, I did listen to a couple like that.

Richard: So, and then you had pieces of a story that would fit into there and putting the two together worked. But the whole thing about Scooby Doo, that was my idea.

Terrie: That’s what brought it together. Actually, Scooby Doo, I had listened to shows that had the dramatizations in the middle, but at the time I was thinking, you know, there’s no way we can do that many characters because the ones I was listening to was like, Oh, here’s the police and there’s the detective and here’s the mother. And I’m like, I can’t do that many voices. So I kind of put that in the back of my mind. You said Scooby Doo. And then again, like I talked about, you know, the psychology of having focus, of having limitations and being able to get something done. Suddenly I’m like, all right, now I’ve got four characters and a dog and I’ve got the guy who dances and I’ve got the cow.

Richard: And somehow the guy who dances, I thought, Oh, that’s like the guy from Silence of the Lambs dancing in front of the mirror.

Terrie: Yeah. Well, as I was writing him and he was in his house and he was kind of dancing, the AI had him dancing around. So I started adding, you know, what his room looked like and everything else. And then it got to the point where I wanted him to have a basement. I wanted him to be creepy too, because when you think about it, there has to be a villain in the story. It can’t be our four heroes, right? So it’s gotta be either the farmer, the cow, or the police officer. Basically, that’s all we have left. The farmer would be obvious. What kind of turned it on its head was that? in a Scooby Doo episode, it would be at the very end, the cop would come and pull off the mask and say, Oh, I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids. Instead, it was the actual cow. There was no mask. The actual cow did it. So that was the only like little twist on that. I could then get into the characters and say, okay, you’ve got the bumbling goofball and you’ve got the sexy Velma.

Richard: In the middle of writing that, we stopped and we watched a couple of one or two episodes of Scooby Doo, and we wrote down like an outline of what every Scooby Doo episode follows the same outline. And the other interesting thing is every Hanna-Barbera cartoon uses the same sound effects because that makes it easy to churn out these things. And actually I’m thinking about that.

Terrie: Thinking about what?

Richard: Thinking about narrowing the number of sound effects I have to choose from because boy, that takes a lot of time. Auditioning sound effects is something that takes hours and hours and hours. And if I don’t have to do that, I can turn out these episodes quicker. We can’t be spending four months on one episode anymore.

Terrie: Is this a segue?

Richard: It is. Into what?

Terrie: We’re probably going to have these fully formed audio dramas that are very exciting and layered, but we’re also going to have a little bit more LaVar Burton-ish, one of us reading with a little bit more minimalistic sound.

Richard: Right. We’re not making audio dramas for Audible. We’re making podcasts and podcasts have to come out on a regular schedule.

Terrie: We’re also not getting paid.

Richard: Yeah. So we have to figure out a pattern. A lot of YouTube channels have a pattern and sitcoms are a pattern. Every Hanna-Barbera episode was a pattern and we need to figure out our pattern.

Terrie: Well that’s it. And I mentioned it earlier is we’re still evolving. We’re still trying to find our feet. It’s almost like I’m doing my hand like a Geiger counter, I guess this is. But at the beginning we’re like, okay, it’s going to be 100% AI. Everything’s AI. As much as we can AI. Nothing can be human. And then we’re like, okay, that’s no fun. Let’s go this far. And I think the last one, the Asteroid Annie was just so labor intensive, especially for you.

Richard: I was overwhelmed.

Terrie: Yeah, you really were.

Richard: That feeling of being overwhelmed made it hard to keep at it.

Terrie: It needs to be fun. I’ve seen you when you work and it’s fun and you just can’t stop because it’s so much fun. And you bring, you know, every 10 minutes you come in with a newly rendered piece and you’re like, listen to this. What do you think of this? What should I do with it? And we kind of discuss it. Those days are so fun.

Richard: But this one, Asteroid Annie turned out really, really well, but making it was a real slog.

Terrie: I think, I’m not sure, but I’m guessing that you kept trying to uppen your game.

Richard: Well, that’s the other thing is that I had expectations for this episode. Like this has to be a really, really good episode. And I had a kind of a problem with imposter syndrome where this episode has to be really, really good, but can I make it good enough?

Terrie: I do that. I do that. When I write my own stories, I have an idea and I start writing and I’m like, I have the vision of what I want it to be and I’m not good enough to get it there yet. So I set it aside for a while. Yeah.

Richard: That’s the main reason why it took four months to get this episode out.

Terrie: Here’s an idea. I’m not sure if I’ve told you or asked you, but if we’re thinking of one episode a month, have some percentage of those be the more looser narrating, but not so much acting, not so much heavily sound designed. And then for Halloween or New Year’s, we can come out with more flamboyant episodes. What do you think?

Richard: Yeah, we can try it.

Terrie: You don’t sound very enthused.

Richard: We’re going to end with a review and a call to action.

Terrie: And they’re related.

Richard: You log into Instagram more often than I do. And I logged in yesterday for the first time in ages and I saw that we had a review. So this is JasonV002 who said, when I first listened to Uncanny Robot, I didn’t think I would like it, but I’ve grown to love the Asteroid Annie stories. They are so funny and totally surreal. The last episode was so awesome. The background voices and effects were so hilarious. I was laughing out loud.

So this is something we hear a lot. Is it people who write about us online? Very often, the first thing they say is, I didn’t think I was going to like this. And that is a real problem for us. All you and I can do as the creators of this podcast is say, this is what the podcast is. It’s us and it’s AI. And people say AI and they’re like, no, I don’t want to do this. But some people actually listen to it. Maybe they click on it and say, I’m going to hate this. I want to listen to it and hate it. And they’re like, this is good. The problem is we’re not the ones who can go out and tell people, this is actually funny. We could hire a PR agency and it would basically be a ventriloquist doll that we would put words into its mouth.

Terrie: We don’t have any money.

Richard: Right. So what we really need is people who enjoy our podcast to tell other people, because that’s the one thing we can’t do. No one’s going to believe us if we say, this is funny.

Terrie: This is funny.

Richard: So our call to action is please tell other people about our podcast because we can’t do it.

Terrie: If you like it, tell a friend, tell a family member, tweet, Instagram, Facebook, anything. Just a, it’s word of mouth and it’s buzz. And if more and more people, ah, blah, blah, blah. I’ll just let you go. Stop.

Richard: That’s the end. If you enjoyed listening to this episode of the Uncanny Robot podcast, let us know. We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please support the show and all our other shows by donating, subscribing, leaving a review on Apple podcasts or spreading the word on social media. I’m Rich Pav

Terrie: And I’m Teresa Matsuura. Uncannyrobotpodcast.com has trigger warnings, transcripts of all episodes, information on how to contact us and ways to support the show financially. And also remember if you’re missing, keep looking.


  • Thersa Matsuura

    Thersa Matsuura is a thirty year veteran of Small Town, Japan. She’s also a writer with two short story collections (one nominated for The Bram Stoker Award) and a scad of other stories in magazines, journals, and anthologies.

    When not writing, Thersa podcasts. Her shows are Uncanny Japan, Soothing Stories Podcast, and Uncanny Meditations. Here on Uncanny Robot you can find her wrangling ai storytelling machines and artist machines, and lending her voice to their genius.

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  • Rich Pav

    In March 2005 Rich Pav became the first ever podcaster in Japan. Since then he's making a name for himself as one of the top editors and sound designers in indy podcasting. He's been living in Japan since 1990.

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About The Uncanny Robot Podcast

Humorous and surreal short stories and audio dramas read and performed by humans. Our stories aren't nonsensical gibberish as some might assume. We combine our storytelling skills with AI-conceived concepts to create tales with a story arc, fully-developed characters and satisfying endings. We feature human voice actors, not computer generated voices.

Written and performed by Bram Stoker Award Finalist and Clarion West 2015 Graduate Thersa Matsuura and audio engineer Rich Pav.

© Copyright 2024 Uncanny Productions
  • "Did I think I wanted to hear AI generated text read by humans? No...but I was wrong. I was entertained, humored, and maybe even a bit delighted."
  • "My new favorite podcast! I really hope it gets some attention. Some of the stories are so hilarious."
  • "I'm listening to the episode on Elvis at work right now and I'm literally falling over laughing! This is priceless! I have no idea how you are reading this with a serious voice."
  • "If you’re not listening & subscribed to Uncanny Robot, you should be. One of the most clever, entertaining podcasts to come along in a long time."
  • "My brother's response after listening to 'Elvis Lives' was "What on earth did I just listen to?" and then "...are there more like this?"
    Dusty Tuna
  • "When I first listened I didn't think I would like it. But I've grown to love the Asteroid Arnie/Annie stories. They are so funny and totally surreal. I was laughing out loud."
  • "An innovative and unique use of AI as art—reveals in turn the very not-human aspects of Artificial Intelligence, and the surprisingly or accidentally human aspects; the stories are oddly compelling, sometimes dreamlike, sometimes hilarious, sometimes just weird— uncanny, I suppose— it’s very enjoyable, and fascinating."
    Apple Podcasts, USA