A Brief History of Muncaster Castle

The Richards. Photography by Tiffany Black, Blackbirdphoto.com.

The Richards. Photography by Tiffany Black, Blackbirdphoto.com.


This week, I made a dispassionate decision to put the podcast on sabbatical in order to devote my life to telling ghost stories of my ancestors, the Penningtons of Muncaster Castle. This is a project I have been researching for 10 years — 30, if you count the endless hours of Blackadder I watched as a child or my own personal paranormal experiences, 800 if you count my genetic memory imprinted across the castle grounds.

The Baroness & the Fool began in earnest two years ago at Cicily JanusWriting Away mountaintop retreat. There at a cozy oak table in the company of literary lovelies, I realized my responsibility as “the Pennington with the pen.” Incidentally, that is the very same moment I realized I am in love with Graham. I called him up and said, “I need you to go with me to my family’s castle, and also I am in love with you.”

Since then, we uprooted our entire lives in order to be together and bring you these stories. Please enjoy this construction paper tale introducing the adventure at hand.

Follow along on our journey from the modern comforts of electronic mail.



Foreign Legion

On stage in The Legionnaire's upper room. Photography by Graham Richards.

On stage in The Legionnaire’s upper room. Photography by Graham Richards.

Legendary hip-hop duo Foreign Legion’s Marc Stretch and Prozack Turner join Crisman to discuss gentrification, community, and babies. Featuring beats by G Koop & O-man and the late, great, J.Dilla. Recorded at The Legionnaire Saloon in Oakland, California.

Produced by Crisman Richards.
Theme Music and Engineering by Graham Richards.

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The Militarization of Google

Photography by Graham Richards.

Photography by Graham Richards.

Our neighborhood spy mega-store, Google has been making a recent PR push to distance itself from some rather alarming partnerships with known mercenaries and intelligence agencies. This week, comedian-veteran Marine Rich Dreyling joins us to discuss the Eye of Sauron’s growing involvement with the military industrial complex. Consider it an apropos bedtime story for our sleeping nation.

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Read the full story on Pando: http://bit.ly/1mDP87W
Produced by Crisman Richards. Theme music and engineering by Graham Richards. Music by G Koop & O-man.

A Walk Through “Indian Summer” with Graham Richards

Instead of bragging on about my Renaissance Husband’s debut album release, I decided to interview Crisman Show producer and composer, Graham Richards. Listen in as he walks us through the creative journey behind Indian Summer, his first collaborative release on PJCE Records with friend-of-the-show, Dan Duval. I personally recommend this album for meditation, yoga, sleeping, or during turbulent flights when you think you are probably about to die. No matter the chaos surrounding you today, these sounds promise to rejuvenate your spirit and bring you in to this bittersweet moment.

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OffBeat News: LGBT Special


Celebrating Harvey Milk Day with a look at the week’s victories and challenges in LGBT news.  Music provided by G Koop & O-man (featuring Lush One, P Funk All Stars Jerome Rodgers and Kim Manning, plus Eastside Lock).

Written by Sarah Crisman.  Theme music and engineering by Graham Richards (BMI).

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Follow us on Twitter: @CrismanRichards @grichardsbros @gkoopoman

TCS Podcast | Blackout


Blackout podcasting ghost stories by candlelight.

Lights out!  Tonight we broadcast from a conveniently-timed rolling blackout (thanks, Apogee).  Grab a cuppa tea and some s’mores and have a listen to our candlelit ghost stories from my ancestral home of Muncaster Castle in Tom Fool and the Ill-Fated Loversthen stay tuned for Public Dick: The Rootin’ Tootin’ Adventures of Rick Perry.  

Sexy musical interludes by G Koop and O-man, featuring Sayknowledge.  

Come on out and see us sometime:

Graham Richards Live | Tuesdays at Double Barrel Wine Bar (Livermore)

Crisman’s Comedy Soundcheck | Thursdays (Livermore)

G Koop & O-man Live | First Fridays at The Legionnaire Saloon (Oakland)

The Crisman Show Live with Graham Richards & Dan Duval | Friday, May 10 at Mynah Music (Oakland)

Special thanks to Dr Bethany Poston, Sayknowledge, Elisabeth Johnson, and Anthony Caruso. 

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The Crisman Show Podcast: Coots


Comedian Sarah Crisman offers political commentary and pop culture essays punctuated by instrumental hip-hop.

Written and produced by Sarah Crisman. Theme music and engineering by Graham Richards (BMI). Music by G Koop and O-man (RM Moods and Colors, BMI) featuring Taylor Eigsti. For licensing information contact Rob@gkoop.com or visit GKoopandOman.com.

For more stories, podcasts, and video episodes visit crismanshow.com.

Special thanks to Dr Bethany Poston.

Shattered Reflection 

A parallel interpretation of Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” music video with events unfolding in my own life.  

 Since moving to California, I find myself listening to a lot of Katy Perry.  For years I have followed her career with a fascination generally reserved for mirrors and her majesty, the Queen.  I miss my best friend, Bethany, and I don’t really have any California girl friends yet.  I wind up alone quite a bit, inflicting dance parties on my step-dogs in an effort to girl up my new home.  Do you know how frustrating it is to live in San Francisco without your Gays?  They don’t come around every day, you know.  Spectacular friendships like that take time to cultivate.  On top of which,the cross-country move triggered my debilitating social anxiety disorder.  What I’m trying to say is I spend more time at home watching Katy Perry videos than I do going out around people.  I am developing a keen understanding of California culture.  I see myself in her miniature films, in particular, “Wide Awake.”

After going through the looking glass, Katy arrives before an eerie labyrinth.  Reflecting on my own life, I look at the gothic maze and see my emotional transition to California.  Beyond the dark walls lies a sunlit hill.  As soon as she enters, the walls begin closing in on her — only, rather than be crushed, Katy draws on her inner-strength and summons the same kind of golden pyrotechnics we saw in her “Firework” video and that I have seen in dreams and meditation for years.  Sparks shoot from her hands and her heart, specifically.  Imagery I’ve seen dance across my fantasies for years — brilliant flames igniting from my own hands and heart..  The walls retreat.  This, my friends, is what a panic attack feels like.  In fact, if it weren’t for my daily devotion to meditation and Katy Perry, I would be in a constant state of panic.

The walls part, revealing Katy as her Former Self — Kiddie Perry, if you will.  Kiddie Perry helps guide her grown-up self through her perilous voyage — and even helps save her with a commanding stomp. Never underestimate the power of nostalgia.

While trapped in a mirror of paparazzi, Katy’s fantasy world begins to crumble behind her.  She pushes through the glass in time but is left debilitated, confined to a wheelchair and unable to defend herself.  Kiddie Perry steps up in swift defense, abolishing the critical minotaurs standing in her way.  Katy wakes up and they make a run for the end of the labyrinth.  The walls peel away to reveal a dazzle of sunlight now chasing the darkness to reveal a lush green landscape not unlike the valley I live in today.

The Katies Perry high five and share a hug.  True to many meditations, Katy’s guide places a keepsake in her doppelganger’s hand as they part ways.  In this case, a butterfly signifying her innocence and bravery.  The gift is meant to impart the wisdom of the journey together.  To remember how far you have come and what you learned along the way.  It is a souvenir of possibility.

The final scene pans out from the butterfly in Katy’s open hand.  She is back in her dressing room, this time backstage before a show.  Here we have an internal representation of the most powerful moment from her documentary, Part of Me.  Her marriage to Russell Brand fell to pieces over the course of this film.  It is gut-wrenching, especially considering we love Russell Brand as much as we love Katy Perry.  There is a reason Royals shouldn’t split.  Katy is weeping in her makeup chair and removes her wedding ring.  At this point in the 3D movie theater, Bethany and I humiliate my son with our emotional display.  We cannot keep it together.  But my younger self, Katy Perry, can.  Thousands of Brazilians are waiting to see her.  She pulls it together and is lifted on stage.  The arena fills with love.

When I feel defeated and frightened, I listen to Katy Perry.  I remember her strength.  I remember my own.  I pull it together and lift myself to the stage.

G Koop + O-Man: from Berklee to Beats

G Koop & O-man is an effort to capture the creative process of hip-hop collaboration in a simple, streamlined, and public way. This project, broadcast on YouTube from an unassuming studio in Oakland, provides a weekly push to produce new music and invite guest artists into the fray as they welcome the world to experience this process through the magic of technology.   Graham Richards and Rob Mandell first connected at Berklee College of Music in ’98.  The kindred wits began collaborating on several bands and hosted a regular jam session at a Boston tavern under names like Shivery Delicious , Teen Chat Room, The Pirates of Relaxation, and, of course Busty Nutsack.

The pair eventually found their way to the Bay Area where they quickly became a part of the artistic community, spending much of the time in a little jazz club bouncing between piano and bar.  Graham and Rob were heavily influenced under the mentorship of legendary jazz drummer, Donald “Duck” Bailey.

“Duck taught us how to play, how to listen, how to treat ourselves and other musicians with respect.” Graham said.  “He told first-hand stories of a by-gone era, gave us insight into how things really went down in the jazz clubs back in the day.  He played music with us and never judged us by our technical facility; rather by our willingness to let go of ego and preconception and just play music with him.  It was kind of a boot camp that Rob and I went through together.”

This history is important in understanding the evolution of G Koop & O-man.  Graham returned to school to receive a Master’s Degree from the University of North Texas’ legendary Jazz program and wrote a groundbreaking piano method book, Piano, Yeah! Meanwhile, Rob spent ten years in an intense hip-hop tutelage working with great producers such as Jake One and Easki.

“We each have our own trip, and we have always been 100% supportive of each others’ creative endeavors.” Graham said.”  Rob is one of the most prolific artists I have ever met; his discography is legendary and growing every day.”

“Working with a musician of Graham’s caliber is like holding a musically loaded weapon;” said Rob. “His skill knows no boundaries, and his openness to follow the creativity wherever it may go is unparalleled.”

“My job is to make the language we use more universal,” said Rob. “Less is more.”

Their unique collaborations are reminiscent of individual style augmented by trusted teamwork.  The team takes impassioned ideas and filters them into a product palatable for a wider audience, often taking live gig inspiration and transforming it into a worthy beat.  They work together, trading off on the driver’s seat based on the stronger musical vision at hand while the other offers guidance and suggestion.  When strong ideas strike simultaneously, Graham and Rob explore both ideas, thus revealing the duality of G Koop and O-man

“Because of our history, we trust each others’ ears completely.” Graham said.

The trust is what makes our thing work so well; “Rob adds, “We’ve been doing this so long that we know neither would lead the other astray.”