Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tell Me A Story, Mommy

Somebody on Facebook said that today is officially "Tell Me A Story Day."  I don't know if he just made that up, or was ashamed to call it "Casey Kasem's Birthday," but I'm going to give it a try.


                Jesse MacDonald had discovered a rare pleasure: spoiling things for those around him.  It had started years ago, when he’d actually made a pre-teen girl cry by telling her “Snape kills Dumbledore” when the sixth Potter book came out.  It was a powerful reaction, and it thrilled Jesse to no end.  Since then, he had a new hobby, as Doreen, his soap opera-loving wife, could angrily attest.
                At work, folks knew to avoid him if they didn’t want to know who got dropped from last night’s reality show final, or sports scores from games happening while they were stuck at work.  Heck, if he had a way to figure out the gender of unborn babies, just to tell their prospective mothers at inopportune times, he’d leap on it.

                Jesse saw Patrice, the new secretary, sitting at her reception desk, paging through a paperback book.  He squinted at the cover.  It was Daddy’s Gone A Hunting, by Mary Higgins Clark.  He promised himself to go online, read the end of the Wikipedia entry, and casually give away who was the killer before work today.

                That reminded him.  He dialed up Scott Henreid’s extension, eager to leave him a voicemail.

                Scott picked up.  “This is Scott.”

                “Hey, Scott, I—“ Jesse began, trying to keep the smile out of his voice.

                The young department manager interrupted.  “I haven’t seen the game yet, so please don’t say anything.”

                “I wouldn’t dream of it,” Jesse said.  “Just wanted you to know our department still hasn’t gotten the toner for the back copier.  Light’s blinking again.”

                “Alright.  I thought we had ordered that on Tue—“

                “Oh, and a shame about the Redskins beating the Patriots like that, wouldn’t you say?”

                Scott hung up on him.  Jesse wished he could see his face.

                He heard someone laughing, and glanced outside his office to see Eric and Pierre, the two geeky data entry guys who sat across from each other, talking about cartoons and comic books half the time.  He had prepared for this yesterday, and rose.
                Jesse’s heart swelled when he saw Eric’s face redden upon hearing about Black Widow’s death in the Avengers sequel, which didn't even hit theaters for a month.  

                “That might not be accurate, Eric,” Pierre said, standing up in his cubicle.  “These rumors always fl—"

                “No,” Eric muttered, “It’s exactly what that bastard Whedon would do.”  He slumped in his seat.

                “I’m sorry,” Jesse said, as insincerely as humanly possible.  “Did I say something wrong?”

                “Some people like to save themselves, Jesse,” Pierre growled.

                “Like you two are for your wedding nights?” Jesse retorted.  Alright, he didn’t actually think of that until he was halfway back to his office, but it was a nice slam anyway.  Stupid nerds.


                Jesse was out in the warm sun, walking through the aisles of the farmers’ market, looking for organic lettuce and celery, when a Chinese woman with a display of undersized vegetables nodded at him.  “You looking for carrots?” she asked.

                “Nah,” he said.

                She was around fifty, but wore the cat-style glasses popular in the Sixties.  She stood up, showing off her produce like a game show presenter.  “You like onion?  Very good onion.”

                He just shrugged.

                She was persistent.  “Green bean.  No chemicals.  Best quality.”

                “Sorry,” he said, and started to walk by.

                The Chinese woman cocked her head, looking up.  “October 29, 2021,” she said, as though reading it.

                He looked back at her.  “What?”

                “'Clement Jesse MacDonald, age 47, passed away yesterday after a long battle with stomach cancer,’” she recited.  “’He is survived by his parents, Annabelle and Jerard, and an ex-wife. Doreen.’”

                Jesse’s mouth opened, but he said nothing.

                The middle-aged Asian woman swallowed, then shook her head.  She turned her bespectacled eyes to his, and said, “You sure you not want carrots?”


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Volume 14

Here I am again.

So, before I finished that novel, I promised myself I'd treat myself to a good meal or something nice as a reward for a job well done.  Upon finishing, I ended up just getting a new computer.  The one I'd been using before I got in 2007, and it had its problems, but I kept putting off getting a new one because a) I fear change, and b) money is tight.  But a couple of weeks ago, my uncle got my mom a new computer to replace her ancient one (circa 2010 or so), and I told him to go ahead and snag me one too.  I'm typing on it now, with several programs open at the same time, and a Random button on the Winamp that actually works (I'd had to manually hit Skip for a year now).

My friend Jeff told me that whenever he gets a new computer, he makes a clean break of it, and just starts over, figuring he can go retrieve all his files and documents if he needs to, but if he doesn't need to . . . they won't be around, cluttering things up.  He told me that I should try it, and it could be like a rebirth or baptism or reincarnation or like whatever happened to Jean Grey when she drowned and then came back in an excellent costume and was hotter than ever before.*

I didn't dare do any such thing, so I spent two days not recording or editing, but instead, just taking data from my old computer, and later uploading it onto the new one.  Once I was sure I was done, I put the old computer away, and tossed out the monitor, which had been glitching since 2011 or so.  A day later, I realized I hadn't recovered my two or three most recent stories-in-progress, so I hooked the thing up again, got those files, and boxed it up one last time.

It's neat to have a new computer, even if I have to teach myself to do lots of things that were routine before (editing photos is now a complicated ordeal, and once I open a picture with the default program, there is literally no way to close it, save going to Task Manager and killing that particular program), but I hope I'll get the hang of it soon.  The fan on this new system is so much quieter than the old computer, it sometimes sounds too quiet in the dark of night, as though the power went out.

Unfortunately, all is not rosy with this new system, despite the fact that everything loads faster, and it no longer takes ten minutes to save a recording as a .wav or .mp3.  I discovered that there was some kind of interference or incompatibility when I went to record my first audio work on the new system.  The sound is more terrible than ANYTHING I've had to deal with in my months of struggling with background hiss and clicks and sound quality.  In fact, without even turning the microphone on, the sound it's picking up is nearly in the red.  You can still hear my dialogue, but it's like there's a tornado between us, and the mic is in the eye.

I can't really afford it, as I have to get new tires for my car in order to pass inspection, then pay to inspect the car, then get the car registered, and I broke down and bought a new computer monitor to replace the one I'd had since 2002, but I think I'd better invest in one of those cool portable microphones that Abbie and Renee (and now Big) own.  They're small, way more versatile than a big mic on a stand, and seem to record really good sound.  I'll start saving up.

In the meantime, I borrowed my brother's laptop and simply plugged my microphone and mixer into it.  Its sound seemed crystal clear, so I recorded two auditions and a short story on it, but when I went to edit the audition, I was distressed to hear a tinny, muffled quality to my voice (as though I were at the bottom of a grain silo, surrounded by dead children . . . again).

I'm not sure what to do about this.  I've recorded several times using that laptop and mic now, and I swear, sometimes it sounds totally fine to my ears, and then the next time, grain silo.  My worry is that the sound is even worse than I've noticed, and that prospective buyers are going to stay far, far away from anything I perform.  Worse, they may have put in comments to that effect, which would chase away other potential listeners.

Until then, I continue to record and edit my recordings (including a pretty horrible book I finished up right before getting the new computer), hoping that the sound is, in fact, only noticeably bad to me since I'm hearing it through headphones in uncompressed super-quality.  I finished recording a book of short stories yesterday that I quite enjoyed, and am slogging my way through another story collection that is a bit harder to stay enthusiastic about, because I discovered that three of the stories (so far) have been the same story, and two others (so far) have been another same story.

That's probably a discussion for another time, but there has been a bit of positivity from that, at least toward my own writing.  Over and over, I write stories with similar themes, or similar endings, or characters who talk and act a lot like I do.  And even though almost nobody ever reads these stories, I still feel paranoid that someone will consider me untalented, because a story I wrote in 2000 ends in a way very similar to one I wrote just this year.

But seeing that this (professional) writer wrote three over-long stories that are basically the same tale with different locations and character names, and had all three published (in professional publications), is pretty encouraging.  As long as I keep in mind that I don't want to tell the same story as I did in the past, I think it's alright that the same fears, dreams, and regrets keep coming up over and over again.  My bigger concern should be publishing those damn stories, so that readers can decide for themselves just how much of a hack I've become.

Oh, and then record them in audio.  Had to get back on topic here.

Rish Outfield, Narrator

*Comic version, not movie version.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Rish Performs "No Kinda Life" on Audible

Well, this may end up being a weekly post type of thing, but I suppose that's to be expected, when I signed up for so many projects over on Audible.  And hey, we're all friend here.

The other day, a novella I performed called "No Kinda Life" showed up, and I don't believe I got an email about it (usually they let me know when a file has been sent me, something's been accepted, and when the work is up for sale).   Here's your link: No Kinda Life.

Written by Ryan King, I was actually quite excited to audition for this one.  He put up two books on the same day (at least two, maybe others, I don't remember), both of them set after the end of the world.  The other one was set in an abandoned Florida, where there seems to be only one man left alive, as far as the eye can see.  No women either (sorry). 

I auditioned for both projects, and got the contract to record "No Kinda Life," which is much more of a Western.  It was a novella, length-wise (I'd guess, since I don't know where you draw the line), set in the Texas of the future, where things appear to have reverted to an Old West lifestyle and mentality.  Texas Rangers are the law in this post-apocalyptic land, and Austin Reynolds, the main character, is the son of a ranger who told him not to go into that line of work, as it's "no kinda life." 

Well, he ignored his father's words, and we meet him as he has been called into an isolated frontier town to protect them from the onslaught of ruthless raiders, who ransacked the town a year before and have vowed to do so again.

My favorite aspect of this story was that the ruins of our civilization are still out there, crumbling and full of secrets, but that the survivors stay far away from the cities, as they fear they're full of ghosts.  He said that some brave souls make their living going into those steel graveyards, to see what kind of treasures they can salvage.  I really dug that image, and seem to recall a movie where that happened (was it TRANCERS?).

This project was a bit long to be considered a short story (final recording is just over two hours), but it was fast and easy to perform.  I got to voice a bunch of characters, from the corrupt mayor, the blacksmith, the bartender, the bloodthirsty raider leader, the love interest (who may or may not be the mayor's personal whore), and the main character, who I decided to use my trusty "Dad voice" to bring to life.

I got the impression this was but one tale in a series, since there was a lot of interesting world-building this story only touches upon, but I haven't taken the time to investigate that.  I've noticed a lot of book and story series on Audible, and it seems Jeff once told me that a publisher is more willing to buy a book series from an author than a single book.  I can understand that, even though it seems more like Hollywood thought than book publishing (which should be a little smarter and a lot nobler, by its very nature).

If there are more Austin Reynolds stories, I'd accept the job of reading the next chapter with pretty much no qualms, and I'm sort of still holding out hope that he lets me record the last man in Florida story too.  It would be nice to get a contract to narrate a couple of different ongoing series, but right now, I'm still trying to figure out the best way of to get a clear recording that's not too loud, not too soft, and free of that damnable background hiss.  It will truly be nice when I can stop focusing on the sound quality, and just concentrate on the performance.

Rish Outfield, Audiobook Boy

Monday, April 15, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Lucky Week 13

So, I finally finished recording the novel that was due on March 31st.  It was, hands down, the biggest challenge I've had since doing this audiobook thing (though trying to please a certain author's agent is obviously a close second), and part of that was my fault.  I simply bit off more than I could chew, not having paid attention to the word length, and not realizing that I could go onto and read reviews of the various works that were holding auditions.*

For this novel, three reviews there lie, and the one at the top distinctly says that the book would have been great had it been edited, the reviewer going as far as to say that it was difficult for her to keep from grabbing her red pen as she went along.

I accepted the job not comprehending how big a job it was, and that I'd still be pushing my way through it three months later, sweating, frustrated, voice-strained, and patience worn nearly to transparent.  I should have been able to soldier through it, but I couldn't spend more than a couple of hours a day on it (either recording or editing) before I was mentally drained, and other projects haven't been that way.

But, as the great poet Kelly Clarkson once said, "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, fugneh monger, kthulhu mah cobah neeklai R'lyeh."  And yeah, I'm a tougher, more experienced performer after having passed through this particular gauntlet.  Being left 100% on my own for so long was also pretty empowering, because I had to decide how to pronounce some of the more outlandish names, I had to figure out how to convey when demons were speaking with their otherworldly voices rather than in their human disguises, and I had to pick voices and accents for the various characters (including four immortal demons and at least three transformed underlings), and I had to interpret which of the many confusing paragraphs were typos and writing errors and which were meant to be that way (and translating the former into spoken English).

I have complained, I know, but this audiobook, when published, will be a comprehensive example of what I can do with narration, using no reverb or music or sound effects or distortion (though that sort of thing would have made the demons a hell of a lot clearer to the ear, especially in passages when the text designates that the demon voice is slipping through the normal human voice).**

I'm too close to what I do to truly know how well it all works, but this is, to my ears, among my best work.  Or at least it's me firing on all my cylinders.

Regardless, I don't know that many people will hear this work.  The book is the darkest thing I've ever read all the way to the end (I've tossed away a couple of Jack Ketchum and Richard Laymon books before finishing), and pushes boundaries beyond what I would dare in my own writing.  But if child murder, cannibalism, mutilation, possession, human sacrifice, bad Russian accents, and gang rape don't bar your door, then yeah, I guess I'd recommend you check it out.

I mentioned last time that there were a couple of projects I was considering auditioning for.  I told myself that I'd leave the tabs open on the computer while I finished up this novel, and when I was finally done, if they had not yet been assigned to anyone, I would go ahead and audition.  The first was that short story collection where the author wanted the person auditioning to read an entire short story.  I went ahead and recorded it, doing it as though I already had the job, and giving it my all, so that if I did get the job, I wouldn't have to produce that particular story again.  The damn thing ended up being thirty-three minutes long when I had it all edited, and as I may or may not have said last week, I was pretty certain nobody else would be foolish enough to do that, and the job would be mine.***

Within twelve hours, I had the job, and the author told me how much he enjoyed my performance.  That was nice to hear, and I was glad it was the author himself.  I'm sick to death of dealing with publishers and the authors' "people."  What the f-word do they know about the intent of the writer, the pronunciation of made up words, and the dialects the characters should have?  Rarely do they have anything of value to say to me, if they even deign to return my messages.

Of course, dealing with the authors themselves can be problematic in a different way, as I experienced recently with a writer that had a problem with me transposing two words in a chapter, claiming it didn't follow the text exactly.  Now, every time I discover a typo or an error in the text, I think, "Oh, but you don't mind me ignoring the exact wording of the text on this sentence, do you?"

Guess I'm just not a people person.

I also auditioned, in the same sitting, for a Science Fiction book that I pretty much only auditioned for because the author boasted how many hard copies he or she had sold on Amazon.  I looked up the reviews of the book, and people did seem generally enthusiastic about it.  Unfortunately, she wanted three chapters from the middle of the book performed for the audition, and I simply didn't have it in me.  

Having not read the book itself, I didn't know what the characters sounded like, where they were supposed to be from, or even if they were young or old.  I did one of their voices like an old man, since he seemed to be in a position of experience, but at the end of the chapter, the main character remarks that he wasn't much older than the other two were, leading me to believe they were all teenagers.  Whoops.

I not only didn't go back and re-record all of the "old man"'s lines, I didn't go on to perform the other two chapters, and just edited it and submitted it with a note about not knowing how to voice the characters, but if I got the job it might be fun to sit down with the author and come up with tones for them.

Did I mention not being a people person?

To my surprise, I also got an acceptance email on that book as well.  I wasn't completely thrilled at the news when it happened (in fact, Big told me I should turn it down), but I know that as soon as I'm done editing this novel, it'll be like a marathon runner who suddenly loses the barbed wire in his left shoe, and I'll feel free and energized and will take off like a shot.

Of course, I've been wrong before.  But time will tell.

Rish Outfield, Audio Guy

*Though it is possible that the reviews might not have been there when this book was available for audition.

**And there's another thing. I've been asking myself since January if it's alright to do vocal effects on my readings, since they serve me so well on my podcast. Ultimately, people around me told me not to do it because that's not how professional audiobook narrators do it. I grumpily had to agree with them . . . but then this week, I put in the audiobook to one of Anne McCaffrey's "Dragonriders of Pern" books, and for the psychic dragon voices, sure enough, they use a vocal effect. This surprised me so much I just had to call Big A. up and tell him about it, as if he would say, "Rish, my boy, you have indeed proven us all wrong. By all means, create audiobooks in whatever way thou seest fit. By the way, I worship thee."  He didn't.

***I did include a note with my audition, mentioning how atypical a request like this was and that "I must really, really want this job to have done this much work for an audition."  I figured that, even if I were not to get the job, the author would be unsubtly informed of his unrealistic expectations.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rish Performs "The Case of the Vanishing Boy" on Audible

So, one of the two first jobs I got doing audiobooks has now shown up for sale on  This one is "The Case of the Vanishing Boy" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  It is the first story in a series of "Spade/Paladin Conundrum" mysteries that the author has published in the last few years, and when I first signed on, I was excited at the prospect of being the voice for all of them.

First off, Ms. Rusch is an author I've actually heard of, which probably translates to other people having heard of her, which probably translates to her having fans.  That probably translates to more folks wanting to buy her work than your average self-published writer, and that probably further translates to more audiobook sales than usual.  That could be lucrative, as well as fun.

Secondly, the writing was really good, and performing the story was pretty fun.  The story is centered around a Science Fiction/Fantasy convention, and the main character, "Spade," is the man you'd want to hire to make sure everything goes well.  He's a huge guy with a clever mind, and watches over a convention every weekend to troubleshoot, and occasionally, to solve mysteries.  He meets "Paladin," a tiny, attractive young woman who also frequents conventions, tracking down stolen merchandise, missing equipment, and in this case, missing persons.

They team up to solve the mystery of a disappearing teen, and lots of geek-centric fun is to be had.

Rusch is a pretty big name in SF circles, and her husband, Dean Wesley Smith, briefly instructed Big Anklevich in the ways of the Force and that gun kata stuff that was a thing for a while.  Unfortunately, I have yet to meet her, or interact with her in any way, and I'd rather be in contact with the writer themselves rather than a third party.  You know what I'm talking about.

Even though this was one of the first jobs I got back in January, I've had several more projects come and go before getting the final sign-off on this one.  Only after having done a lot of these things, did I really appreciate the quality of writing in the story, and the fact that, of the two KKR stories I have produced, there was not a single typo, grammatical error, or nonsense sentence to be found in either.

Plus, she's a really clever writer, with a very amusing voice.  Her stuff has personality, and sounds really genuine, as though she knows exactly what fan conventions are like, and the kind of people who go to them.  Of course, she also wrote a Sci-Fi murder mystery that felt just as genuine, and I'm fairly sure she's never lived on a space station.

Unfortunately, since it was the first project I started on, and the learning curve has been so sharp, I'm not sure how great-sounding my reading is.  Surely not crappy enough to cause me not to recommend it, but like the very first story we did on the Dunesteef, I'm haunted by the fact that the sound quality and editing is at a level way below what we'd do nowadays.*

I had a great deal of trouble with this production, and it did pretty much all it could to break my will.  But I'm still doing audiobooks, so I guess I got back up again.

Anyhow, the story can be found here: Case of the Vanishing Boy. It's for sale, along with an impressive chunk of her fiction (short stories and novels) and non-fiction, and yeah, I get a little portion of every copy it sells.**

I don't know if I am still in the running to record the rest of the stories in this series (my gut tells me I'm not), but if you can't get enough of mysteries among geek culture (especially those read by me), pick it up and tell me what you think. Who knows, I may be the only one who sees the defects in the file. And that would be nice.

Rish Outfield, Audiobook Nerd

*To the point that I often ask Big if we can re-do that story someday, knowing what we know now. Not sure that's ever going to happen, but I'll keep at it.

**Not that that is why I'm hyping it. I'll be happy to plug the stories I don't get a percentage of, and I've hesitated to plug a couple that I would be paid for.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Audio Adventures Week 12

Just have three projects right now, as I may have mentioned, and I continue working on the one whose deadline just passed.  I think I will treat myself to some kind of meal when I finish that one.  Something with pepperoni or chili on it.

Do they make chili pizza?

I nearly auditioned for another book yesterday, despite having vowed not to audition for anything until these three were over.  It was a book of five short Horror stories, and it seemed like my kind of thing, but when I went to audition, I saw that the author/rights-holder wants us to read an entire story from the collection as our audition.  I'd seen that before, two or three other times, and always felt like it was way too much to ask a prospective narrator to do.  Technically, we're only supposed to provide a five minute sample as our auditions, and I've seen twenty minute chapters requested by rights-holders before (but granted, never an entire story).

The way I see it, I'd be willing to waste that much time if I knew it wasn't going to be a waste of time.  If I knew I'd get the job just by recording the story, I'd be happy to do it (I read the story through before even considering auditioning, and it's not bad, and seems to be something I'd excel at), but it does seem like auditioning an actress for an adult film by saying, "You see that dude over there?  Go have sex with him while I watch."

Maybe that's not unrealistic when it comes to adult film.  Maybe it's more akin to auditioning a stunt man by saying, "Hey, you see that stepladder there?  Climb to the top of it and jump off, landing on your back on the VCR boxes in the corner there."

Okay, maybe that's not the perfect example either, but I'm getting close.

I have had a couple little tiny projects go up in the last week (short stories that I recorded as an experiment to see if doing several short pieces could end up as profitable as a handful of long pieces), but it's too soon to see if they'll be making me money.  A few people have bought copies of "Dead End Street," which makes me (and hopefully the author) smile, though we'll see what kind of numbers that translates to. I'm not really a money-centric guy, though I really ought to make a spreadsheet or something keeping track of the money I make for each project, versus how much work each one was.  If a short story I produced in, let's say, five hours made me fifty dollars (just to keep the math easy), and a book I produced in twenty hours made me a hundred dollars, then I'd be a fool to keep doing books instead of short stories.

A little voice keeps telling me that I should be posting my own short stories on Amazon, and recording those as well, when I get some down time, since splitting royalties with the author of those would be way more pleasurable.  That's the next thing I need to be focusing on, rather than taking on new projects.

I spent last Saturday alone in the house all day and all night, recording, watching TV, editing, looking things up on the internet, editing more, watching more TV, and it occurred to me that I wished I had a Twitter account, so I could say all the worthless things that come into my head with no one to share them with (just like every other worthless person on Twitter).  Stuff like "Does the fact that my old black guy voice sounds a bit like Bill Cosby make me more racist or LESS racist?" and "I'm thinking of doing a Barbie parody where Barbie tries to track down the infamous Osama Ken Laden.  That's right, it's ZERO DARK BARBIE."

I really shouldn't be left alone anymore, folks.  It's possible that my sister's monstrous kids keep me grounded.  When they finally came home after the long weekend, I instantly regretted saying that, because the precious silence was shattered and I've gotten almost no recording done since then, but I did miss having them around.

I am getting closer and closer to being done with the novel, and if it weren't so mentally draining to edit more than, say, a chapter a day (each one takes around two hours), I'd have burned through it and been done long ago.  Not quite by the deadline, but still long ago.

My goal is to be completely done and moved on by the next one of these unamusing blogposts.  Wish me luck.

How about auditioning a guy to build your house by saying, "Go ahead and assemble, say, a bedroom and the first floor bath, and depending on how you do, we'll consider hiring you."  Better?

Rish Outfield, Book Boy

Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Balcony Is Closed

So, Roger Ebert passed away this week.  He was seventy.  The man had suffered for a long time since getting cancer and losing his jaw, but had soldiered on, continuing to have a voice (so to speak) every time a new movie came out, good or bad.
He was easily the most influential film critic in my lifetime, there was a time when I would check to see what Ebert had to say about a flick to help me determine whether I'd go or not.  He was the fat one (at least that's what Chevy Chase, and half of America called him), but he struck me as having more of a sense of humor than Gene Siskel did ("the bald one").  And he had actually made movies, so it seemed like he had a bit more credibility than most.

When I discovered the internet, I thrilled at being able to read his reviews, rather than the small-town hayseed movie reviewer I guess I could've been, if that's what I really wanted to do, and was more of a people person.  It was fun to read what he had to say on whatever was just coming out, or read his recommendations of movies from long ago I'd never even heard of.
All in all, my two favorite reviews of his were for TRANSFORMERS 2 and ALMOST FAMOUS.

I hated the 2007 Michael Bay Transformers film.  Because people around me liked it, or because it had a pretty girl in it, or because I had once loved those robots in disguise, I saw it.  And though I still get upset when I think about it, I don't entirely regret seeing it.

However, when a couple years later, a sequel was made, and people started getting excited about it, I had to draw a line in the sand.  I didn't want to see it, even if the rest of America did, and I didn't want to spend a dime to support it.  But I've always been of a mind that, if you haven't seen something, you have no authority to talk as though you do (this is actually something I learned in college, where people would decry the evil of certain movies, books, or TV shows, only to reveal that they'd never seen, read, or seen them.  But they were still authorities, mind you, and could speak with confidence that they knew what they were talking about).  How could I talk about how awful, worthless, and poorly-made it was, if I didn't go see it?

Well, along came Roger Ebert.  He did sit down and watch TRANSFORMERS 2, and he wrote both a review and an essay about it.  In the essay, he talked about how stupid summer blockbusters had become, and how the public still kept supporting them, and held up TF2 as the worst example Hollywood has yet produced, and shuddered at the state of the industry if people weren't up in arms about it.  The review said the best part of the flick was when a robot dog humped Megan Fox's leg, and that, "If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together."

I never did go see TRANSFORMERS: THE UNMEMORABLE TITLE, because my integrity is worth more than the chance to complain about a movie (hey, I paid to see 1998's THE AVENGERS, and SPAWN, and DIE ANOTHER DAY, and BATMAN & ROBIN, and HIGHLANDER 2, and HOOK, and HOME ON THE RANGE, and VAN HELSING, and GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE, so I can complain until the cows come home).  But reading what Roger Ebert said about it made me feel like I knew what I needed to know, and when others described to me the various magical moments, like Devastator's swinging balls, I could shake my head in shame just like I'd been a part of it.  So thanks, Roger.

When I read his ALMOST FAMOUS review, I was the poorest I have been, newly living on my own, and able to afford to see about a movie a month, or fewer.  But he said, if I recall, "This movie made me want to curl into a ball and hug myself."  For some reason, that just spoke to me, and I went out and saw the flick first-run (though I did hit a matinee; I'm not crazy).*

If I remember right, I paid to see it, and snuck into a second film as a sort of bonus (I missed the first fifteen minutes).  And while I never actually hugged myself after seeing ALMOST FAMOUS, I enjoyed it, especially the music of the era it was set in.  I went out and picked up Elton John's Greatest Hits because of that movie.  And I still love the quote from the film, "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool."

So, two examples.  One good, one bad.  There are films of all kinds out there, and I do love the movies.  I would have done so without Roger Ebert, but I might not have tried my hand at being a movie reviewer without him.  Sometimes I miss those days of seeing a film and rushing home to write about it, counting the beheadings or times a killer comes back to life after being knocked off.  I was really, really sick the day Roger Ebert died.  I watched five movies, that day.  One totally sucked.  One looked like it would suck and I turned it off.  One was alright.  Two were pretty good.  One made me cry.

I think Roger would call that a day well spent.

Rish Outfield

*I looked this quote up just now, so I could get it right, and it turns out I misremembered it.  The actual quote is, "Oh, what a lovely film. I was almost hugging myself while I watched it."

Monday, April 01, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Week 11

I would have predicted, when I first started this adventure, that I'd have grown tired of blogging about recording books for Audible long before eleven weeks had gone by.  But it's still fun, and a huge diversion from the day-to-day slog of recording/editing/uploading on my overstrained computer.  Heck, I never would've guessed a decade ago that I would still enjoy blogging on here, or thirty-something years ago, when I first wrote in a journal.  But I do.

So, I had a wholly pleasant experience recording a short book (the Western I believe I mentioned) recently which not only paid cash, but had absolutely zero mistakes or changes requested by the author.  I'd say it took two weeks or so from receiving the contract to having the whole thing done and approved, and the money in my PayPal account.  It seems to me that even the recording and editing experience was a pleasant one, except for my unfortunate jumbling of the words "raider," "rider," and "ranger," which I didn't have a B.D. Anklevich listening to make sure I got right.*

In other news . . . I have had the meaning completely--hell, WE have had the meaning of "irony" completely ruined by its misuse in the past decades, to the point where I never know if I'm using it right, and have to do a little word-replacement exercise in my head every time I use it.

So, is it ironic that I tried over and over to please an author's agent with my sound quality, finally getting my recordings at a level where they sounded good to me and her, only to get an email from a producer this week telling me I have completely ruined the sound with all my "tinkering and mastering" (as he put it)? He said, and I quote, "No one is going to listen to six hours of your voice with the tinny qualities and artifacts you have created."?

It's sort of the opposite of hilarious, because I have now been trained to, immediately after stopping each recording, to do Noise Reduction. Hence, there are no extant "clean" recordings that he wants me to send him.  The versions with all the background hiss taken out are the only versions to send.

I honestly don't know what to do. If one hour of completed audiobook equals ten hours of work, that means I'm making, roughly, zero dollars and also-zero cents per hour at this job.  Do I want to go back and re-record?  Would you?

The other bit of irony, if I can use that term, is that while recording the book, I was thinking to myself, "This is so fun and so freeing as to be literally awesome."  You see, it's a collection of short horror stories written almost a century ago now, and I was given no direction on how to perform them other than to do what I do best.  Well, if you've heard my work on the podcast more than thrice, you know what I do best, and it was head-shakingly cool to realize that if I wanted to do a story entirely with that uber-phony Mid-Atlantic accent they used to do in movies . . . I could.  And I did.

I sat down one night and recorded the whole story, from beginning to end, until about three-thirty in the morning, laughing at how oh-so-clever I was for talking like nobody really talks, and knowing I could get away with it.  I was even thinking about doing a whole series of these for the publisher, maybe two a year, or one every quarter.

I'm a guy who's easily discouraged and has a tendency to let every little speedbump ruin my day.  But I'm not going to quit.  I'll just focus on the novel with the deadline only hours away this week, see if I can't get at least close to finishing it when my time runs out.  I don't know about you, but not quitting something when it gets difficult is as close to success as I get nowadays.

Rish Outfield, Audiobook Narrator

*And then it was a pain to try and fix those errors in the editing, since the sound quality and my voice were no longer the same, and my attempts to use the correct words from earlier/later in the book never sounded right either.