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Writers Ask: Down Under

Last week’s guest, Dave Thomas, stuck around to help us answer some listener questions about self-publishing, giving your work away for free, the differences between graduate and undergraduate workshops, and the joys and aggravations of academia. Plus Tom talks about the time he got punched in the face, and Mike can’t believe neither Dave or Tom has heard of Showbiz Pizza and the Rock-afire Explosion. Here is video evidence that they exist (and are awesome):

Now, at the actual Showbiz Pizza–which, incidentally, was much better than Chuck E. Cheese–the Rock-afire Explosion did both original tunes and covers, but unlike the above video, the tracks were recorded by an actual (human) band, so it wasn’t just lip-synching to the original. The Rock-afire was just one of three stages of animatronic entertainment. On another stage, Billy Bob the bear sang country tunes and bantered with his pal Looney Bird, who for some reason lived in a trash barrel. I don’t remember what happened on the third stage. Honestly, you should just watch this mini-documentary from the early 80s narrated by the guy who created the whole thing.

Sadly, Showbiz went out of business after merging with Chuck E. Cheese and getting rebranded, leaving the Rock-afire Explosion out in the cold. Though in more recent years the “band” has been revived as a traveling show and through online videos, like the Arcade Fire video above. Apparently there’s a documentary about it that used to be on Netflix Streaming but isn’t anymore. Maybe you should buy it. Honestly, the guys behind Rock-afire seem pretty awesome. Here’s the trailer:

And now you know all sorts of stuff about Showbiz Pizza and animatronics. Learning!

But the episode is about much more than animatronic musicians, we promise. As always, you can stream it below, or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe for free and never miss another episode. Thanks for listening, and for helping to spread the word about the show!


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