Archive for the ‘ Writing Jobs ’ Category

The Curse of the Creative Mind

brokenZs
…the Sleep Gremlins have finally found a crazy dream I cannot will myself awake from.
“Actor’s Nightmare”? Pish…I laugh in its face.
“Airshift Where the Studio is Suddenly My Grandma’s Living Room and All the Records Are Wrong”? I can dream I say, “Oh, come on. Wake up.”
But they got me last night with a simple dream of having a creative assignment where the script would alllllllmost come together, but not quite…but I could fix it if…no, but what if….well, nearly there, but…what about if we…. 
Even after waking up from it twice, I went right back to sleep to “fix” the problem. ….oh dear.
“Exhausted” is not the word. (…wait. what is the word? maybe if I…dang, it’s back again, and I’m awake this time!)

 

— over and out —

…a Ghost of Christmas Past.

I didn’t send out cards this year.  It reduced holiday stress, but still…I felt a little guilty.

So, as I’ve met and made so many new friends since this little audio skit was created five years ago, I figured I’d take advantage of technological advances and share with you a film noir version of the muchly over-done “Christmas Carol”…this time, starring Sam Scrooge.

My thanks to Wendy Zier for joining the voice cast.   And, as Scrooge would say, “A Happy Humbug to you all!”  (…seriously, the only way I’ve made it through this year is with the help of friends such as you.  And for that, I am truly grateful.)

— over and out —

I Hate To Break It To You, But…

...shirt available from zazzle.com. ...and no, I'm not being Opposite.

We are a mass of contradictions. 

     Most of us become so accustomed to it over time, that it passes for normal.

     But every so often an over-used phrase gets stuck in my head and hurts like the time Paul Anka’s “You’re Havin’ My Baby” came to live in my skull for a solid month.

     Of late, I’ve noticed “Opposite” Phrases…normally used as an insincere ploy to show deference while proceeding with offense.  Other times, it’s just annoyingly superfluous.

     The one that set me off recently was “…With all due respect” — usually uttered by someone who is about to say something completely disrespectful.  Also in that category is the ever-popular “I don’t wish to seem rude…” (you know you do!)

     Another one is “…Some say…” and its ugly cousins “Studies show…”, “I’ve heard…”,  “We all know…”, “You know as well as I do…”, and “I know for a fact…” — which you can usually translate into “I’m just making this up because it supports my argument.”

     Speaking of arguments:  at some point, you’ll usually hear “That’s not the point, the point is…”  — which means “That really was the point…you won it…and I want to change the focus quickly before I lose control of the argument.”  …or the last refuge:  “Well I guess we just have to agree to disagree…”  — usually followed by a muttered “even though I’m clearly right.”

     One I’ve always found particularly laughable and galling at the same time shows up in almost any sound bite from Congress.  It comes in several flavors.  “My Esteemed Colleague…”, “My Friend Across The Isle…”, “The Right Honorable…” — usually inserted in place of the speaker’s true opinion, which is anything BUT!

     Socially, there’s “I hate to be the one to tell you…” — usually said by someone who’s absolutely DELIGHTED to be the one to tell you.  “You don’t want to know…” — is used to remind you just how much you really DO want to know.  And there’s the classic “Oh, I’d be the last person in the world to…”  — say what I’m about to say anyway.   That one also shows up as “Far be it from me to…”

     And have you ever noticed in cop shows or war movies whenever someone says, “Permission to speak freely?” — they’re going to unload with a speech anyway.  (There was one show I wish I could remember where the authority figure just replied “No”.  I laughed out loud.)

     As a voiceover talent, voice artist, voice actor…whatever you want to call it…I know it’s to my advantage to actively listen to what people say and how they talk.  It helps me create a good performance when I’m behind the mic, whether I’m playing an actual character or not.  But I swear…(and I don’t, usually)…sometimes I wonder if it isn’t more of a liability, when it causes me to notice duplicitous phrases like these.

     Needless to say (though I’m saying it anyway), you can probably think of a lot more.

— over and out –

T’is the Season…

Yes, it’s been the season when those emails and phone calls you thought were going to mean new business…simply meant it was a client from last year needing your tax ID number.

…but there are bright sides to consider.

A few of those requests actually remind me of some pretty great jobs…and some pretty great paychecks from some pretty great client friends.

And so it was I somehow had the presence of mind to attach the following note to one such friend who required a W-9 from me:

“Thanks for making this necessary!”

— over and out —

     With all the buzz about Aflac throwing open auditions for anyone to become rich and famous replacing Gilbert Gottfried as the annoying voice of the TV Commercial Duck, I’m probably the only voice talent in America that isn’t submitting an audition.

     Why not?

     Because if I did, it would probably go something like this.

    (Don’t expect any flashy pictures…except whatever pops into your mind as you listen in.)

— over and out —

…just stumbled upon a quote I wish I’d had all these years to fire back at those who thought I should be doing “something more important”:

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” – Bertrand Russell

— over and out —

Why Keep On? One answer of many…

This week has seen me working more for myself than anyone else.  In some ways it’s not as much fun:  the “boss” is a harder taskmaster, a perfectionist, can’t make up his mind, the hours are insane and the pay is lousy.

Working on updating your own promotional material does have its rewards, though.  For one thing, you discover things you hadn’t thought of in awhile (“Gosh, was I ever this good?”).  This usually offsets the discovery of things it turns out you remember being better than they actually were (“Gosh, how do I ever get hired?”).

Talking by phone with friend Bob Souer during this process, and getting some automatic encouragement by the mere fact of doing so, I wondered aloud about the reason for putting so much continuing effort into promotion this late in life.  Of course the obvious answer is twofold:  One – if I had known how to do this early in my career and had the tools we do now, I probably would be farther along.  Two  – the alternative now is to do nothing and quit (not an option).

Whenever I get a little envious of the younger, more energetic, more “with it” talent I see out there making the big splash, I temper my thoughts with the comfort that even one of my favorite character actors didn’t really hit it big until he was in his 60s.

That would be Sydney Greenstreet,who became a star with his portrayal of the aptly-named Mr. Gutman in the definitive film version of “The Maltese Falcon”.  He was 62.  I often wonder what he thought about his career choices during his younger years.

I know most people, if they have any knowledge of film and radio history, would rather think of themselves as another Orson Welles:  New York stage genius and network radio star in his early 20s, and creator of what many claim as the best motion picture of all time not long after that.

I can claim a small sliver of that Welles feeling with my own career highlights…on an admittedly much smaller scale.  Along the way, I’ve done regular on-air work in Radio, winning fans with what amounted to an unseen puppet character (Zoot) on a top-rated morning-show, collecting awards for creative writing/production in advertising, co-hosting a local kiddie show on TV doing the puppets and some on-camera cartooning (“Time for Uncle Paul“), enjoying favorable acclaim with local/regional onstage efforts (“Greater Tuna” and the It’s A Mystery troupe) and even snagging a slot somewhere between “extra” and “featured player” in two motion pictures with the Muppets.  If you’d asked me as a kid what I wanted to do with my life, these are the kinds of things you’d hear me mention.  They just didn’t take on quite the national prominence they might have done.

I’m cool with that.

Meanwhile, with that experience, and what I’m gaining through resources never before available, and encouragement from other friends in the business, I see no reason why I couldn’t at some point hit my “Sydney Greenstreet” stage.

I’ve still got a few years to get there.  Why stop now?

— over and out —

The Clue That Gives You The Clue

…or perhaps that should be “The Clue That Gives You The CUE”.

I was just at lunch at a local eatery (family-owned Ole Time Barbeque) where they treat you like family in all the best ways.  Along with a relaxing break from the studio and some great banana puddin’ I got a quick example of how to be a better voice talent/audio producer.

Overheard at the table behind me was the friendly voice of the waitress:  “Need some more tea?  I heard that sound.”

What she had heard…and I hadn’t even noticed…was the rattle the ice makes in a drained glass as it is lowered back to the table.  Maybe she couldn’t tell just by listening where the cue came from, but it put her other faculties automatically at work to locate the need and supply the solution.  She was probably there before the customer even finished thinking whether he even  wanted a refill or not.

So now I’m thinking about things I do in my own job which pick up on these “clues to the cues”.  It might be sensing where a read could be sped up when I know we’re over time.  It might be knowing a friendly, deserving client could use a break with a last-second rewrite that makes no sense (they have to be friendly and deserving…I don’t just give out my copywriting “gems”, nor does everyone consider it a favor when I do!).

But what else could I be automatically on the lookout/listenout for?

What clues could you better be atuned to in order to make a client’s time spent with you more of a pleasure?

Me?  I’m thinking about learning to make good banana puddin’.

— over and out —

photo: Chris Beach/flickr.com

It’s always nice to see an over-used word get a some literal meaning.  Around this place, it’s the word “Godsend”.

This week marked the One Year Anniversary of the first airing of the satellite radio series, “Billy Graham Presents An Evening At The Cove.”   Since April of last year, I’ve been editing, producing, and writing continuity for this five-day-a-week radio program on Sirius XM from my studio.

A slower than expected pre-production ramp-up meant the series started without a large backlog of finished programs, so it’s been a literal treadmill ever since.  Even the odd re-run needs re-editing and re-mixing.  That means 52 weeks worth…260 shows…and some much-appreciated work at a time when so many folks are without it.  And I at least  have lots of tangible progress to show for the constant work cycle…as well as a lot to be grateful for. 

Even nicer:  the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association decided earlier this year to continue the program (and me with it), meaning another guaranteed 12 months of production work.  This is in addition to other freelance jobs I field along the way. 

So when the blog lapses, or I sound a little sleepy on the phone, it just means there’s a flurry of activity going on here.  Sometimes, day and night.  And that is truly a Godsend!

— over and out —