The One About… Studio Time

(c) 2018 Star City Studio ProductionsAs a writer and performer, one of the things I’ve always had on my radar is to eventually create audiobooks of my novels. I’m of two minds on the issue. One is that “read by the author” would be a good thing since I am closest to the material and know exactly what it should sound like, know what feelings I was trying to invoke when I wrote it. However, on the other side, I also knew my previous performing experience would not serve me well. I was used to the stage,  An audiobook would require long hours at a conversational tone in a booth – a whole different skill set.

A few months ago, I decided to invest in training with a company called VoiceCoaches, specifically on becoming a voice actor. They helped me with lessons on basic techniques, practice reading copy for both narrative and commercial spots, and most important, booth techniques. That said, after three months, I was ready to step in the booth for the first time in two decades.

This wasn’t my first time in a booth – in 1996, I recorded a series of short radio spots in Japan when I directed The Music Man on base in Yokosuka. Of course, the engineer and the other VA were both Japanese, but the experience was similar. Actually, this time was less daunting – I wasn’t worried about communication issues at all.

Yesterday, I stepped into the booth at Phat Planet Studios in Orlando, worked with the engineer Aaron in the control room and took direction from my producer, Josh, in his office in Albany, NY. The session was to record my two demos tracks – one narrative, one commercial. I spent my studio time having these gentlemen recording my melodious voice. It now goes to post-production to be folded, spindled, mutilated, music and sound effects are added and presto, I get the finished demos in about two to three weeks.

I spent just over two hours reading copy. Then rereading it. Then rereading just a line. Now reread it again and match the energy from that first time through. Make sure your accent is more precise on that word – it’s ahhh-fternoon. Stay the same distance from the mike. Stand closer to the mike. Step away from the mike. Breathe consistently. Head up. Eyes front. Hydrate. Bites of Granny Smith apple to clear your mouth if need be.  Relax. Breathe. And have fun.

So I did. I had a ton of fun. Josh and Aaron both mentioned at points that just doing audiobooks is limiting myself, that I should pursue VA jobs as well. That was never my intent, but to try merits consideration now.

I look forward to sharing those demos when they arrive. Until then, be well.

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The One About… Decisions

taoofmaud-1It seemed the simplest of decisions.

After over three years and more than a thousand different posts, I was going to shut down the Tao of Maud project. In my mind, it had never really accomplished the goals I had set out to do. It had not reached a broad enough audience to soften the conversation within the community of fans by reminding them of the values that particular show was based around. In fact, I’d repeatedly been treated as someone trying to make a quick buck off the show, despite the fact I never even had a Patreon to support my ongoing costs. The irony of that argument was it was made by people who made money as artists, convention managers or internet hosts with sponsorships.
Yet, as December 31st approached, several people came forward with their wishes I would reconsider and anecdotes of how the posts helped them each day or through particularly rough spells. It was nice to finally receive some positive feedback, but it didn’t change the underlying argument.

Then someone close to me chimed in.

My girlfriend said it was still up to me, but I shouldn’t discount how powerful the Tao of Maud could be if it could be a positive influence on even a single life. Besides, it was one of the reasons she first fell in love with me.

How do you stop something that can do that? I hadn’t even realized how well it had worked. So the Tao of Maud stays up, still posting every day for the foreseeable future. It appears to be the primary work of my life – unpaid, uncompensated, yet doing the greatest good.

The day after the New Year started, a bully showed up and began to follow the project on Twitter, a nihilist who sees it as his duty to refute every post. At first, I engaged him and called him out, but this young man believed he could do a bit of a dive onto the ‘net, scouring this blog and my other social media sites for items to use in any argument. It took me a bit, but what I realized was this person really sought was attention. So I’m going to starve him. He can post all he wants. I’ve advised everyone to ignore his comments going forward, no matter how outrageous they become. I know from experience, nothing frustrates one more than the belief you have something to say, and no one will listen to you.

I have been called a cultural appropriator, creatively bankrupt, someone who neither understands nor lives any of the concepts that they try to promote, and someone who does not know that the pony world is not the real world. I prefer to think that the pony world has lessons that we can apply to the real world and thus make it better. I like to think the Tao of Maud is merely another construct to convey those lessons, which have been taught over and over and OVER throughout history by sage people, one more time.

Finally, I see me as a work in progress, nowhere near perfection, but just on a journey toward understanding. I’m not better than others because I created this project. I’m only the first to think of it.

Posted in Commentary, Enlightment, personal, Tao of Maud, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The One About… The Answering Machine

AnsweringMachineIt’s a Uniden Digital Answering System, a base station that supports three wireless phones in an age when almost no one has home phones anymore. I won’t after the move. Yet as I packed it in the box and drove it to our new home together, it was one of the first things out and plugged in. Because the answering machine contains the last message my mother left me. It has her last words in her voice.

So the machine made the cut.

When you fall in love and start to remake your life with someone, you have to decide just what makes the cut. This is the part you don’t think about in advance as you pass through that misty-eyed phase of “I love you” to “I will commit to you heart and soul.”

The thing is, for someone who strives to understand and live a somewhat Zen aesthetic, I have collected a lot of stuff. As Yoda would say, “Empty, my house was not.” Even more amazingly, I managed to do this in a mere seven years. I arrived in Florida with only what would fit inside a Chevy HHR, and that included myself, a cat and his litter box. In some ways, I became a pack-rat in my solitude, clinging to items that reminded me of the adventures I went on in my new life.

But that part of my life is over. Before, the home was all about me. Now, it is about us. Pam and I are striving to find that balance. That means finding items in my house which hold meaning but invite rather than exclude. Art, for example. My collection of Alan Bodner prints and the Kachina dolls I inherited from my mother both add to the home, as do the 78-rpm records I have, just the right note of quirkiness to show my style.

Like any professional team, however, cut down day approaches. Everything will not be part of the new home. Even though the process seems painful, and I whine about it (and Pam calls me on it, every time), there’s one simple truth shining through like a beacon.

It’s just stuff.

Oh, there are memories involved, to be sure. And as my own memory shifts seemingly to Swiss cheese, it seems I might be well served to keep some of this stuff. But not all of it. It needed to be culled. And after all, Pam fell in love with me, not my memories.

eBay is going to be very busy next year, I think.

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