Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Take Two

[This is me a million years ago. Yes, I had hair and I'm wearing a tuxedo. Very dashing. What you don't know is that I'm naked from the waist down.]

You all seemed to enjoy the vibrator outtakes so much, I've decided to post some more. You'll find the link below.

First, though, I need you to remember something. Flubs are a part of every announcer's repertoire. There isn't a voice-over person, newsreader, actor, or any other sort of talent, who hasn't made a mistake at some time or another. Please be cognizant of the fact that if you had someone recording every bit of your work, you might occasionally come across as silly, too. The examples you'll hear were culled from many hundreds of hours of work. The percentage of good work to not-so-good is amazingly high, all things considered.

And, now that I've covered my ass, I'll tell you that all of these are my outtakes. I was going to post a whole bunch of stuff from various talents, and include myself in the mix, but I decided that I didn't have any right to embarrass others without asking them first and I'm feeling too lazy right now to be running around getting all sorts of permissions.

One thing I should explain, before you listen, is that you'll hear an awful lot of eructation. That is, burps. A little-known secret concerning announcers is that we sometimes tend to swallow a lot of air. I'm not sure of the physics behind it, but we do. Just keep in mind that if we ever met in person, I wouldn't be nearly so gassy.

(This should be safe for work, as I've "beeped" any swears.)

Take Two!

Soon, with more better stuff.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Funniest Production I Have Ever Worked On

Or, alternately, The World's Longest Double Entendre.

This is absolutely 100% not phony.

There is this company called VIBCO. They are a wonderful manufacturer of tools and machines used in the construction industry. They are still in our files as a client, although the last production they did with us was quite a few years back. In any case, their main product line consists of vibrators.

Now, if you have as dirty a mind as I do - and I'm fairly sure that's the case - your first thought, when you heard the word "vibrator", was not about some sort of very useful construction equipment. It was about the sort of tool used to pleasure oneself.

With the foregoing as background, I ask you to click onto the link below. It will take you to a place where you can hear some semi-unedited audio from the first recording session I supervised for this client. Remember, they sell perfectly legitimate machinery and tools for use in the construction industry. However, if you bring your dirty mind along...

(By the way, the voice-over talents on the production did an entirely admirable job. They are both consummate professionals. One of them is a regular reader here, and he might like to add his own thoughts concerning this. The fact that one of them broke up a few times during the read is almost entirely due to the fact that I was behind the control board, off-mic, breaking up continually as I heard this stuff emanating from a woman who was desperately trying to keep a straight face.)


Soon, with more better stuff.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The 5% Rule

Although my 2007 attempt to become a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire was unsuccessful, I am thankful to that show for helping me to formulate a rule concerning something I continually see in real life. I call it The 5% Rule. Here's how it works:

In any large group of people, 5% will be assholes.

(If one wishes to delineate further, the assholes can be broken down into subcategories: stupid assholes, vapid assholes, and mean assholes. Only someone such as I [an anal asshole, department of redundancies department] would feel the need to do such a thing, so, of course, I'm going to do it.)

I first learned of this phenomenon while watching Millionaire. On the show, contestants are given multiple choice questions, with four possible answers - A, B, C, or D. If a contestant feels unsure about answering a particular question, he or she has options in acquiring help to do so. One of the options is for the studio audience to be polled concerning how they would answer the question. Way more often than not, the answer given by the majority of the audience turns out to be the right answer. However, without fail, the least probable of the four answers was chosen by approximately 5% of those in the audience.

Choosing the wrong answer on a quiz doesn't automatically confer assholedom upon you. But, some of the answers chosen by the 5% were patently absurd, often put there by the writers as comic relief and obviously not meant to be seriously considered. Still, 5% of the crowd decided to choose that answer.

The reasons they would have given concerning why they chose such an answer would no doubt be informative, but - so far as I know - nobody has ever done follow-up interviews with those audiences asking them that question. Too bad. Here's my best guess.

Stupid - Some folks would no doubt honestly feel that the ridiculous answer was the right answer, so they'd be the stupid assholes.

However, the main reason for giving the answer, in my as-humble-as-I-can-be-while-calling-people-assholes opinion, is generally either vapid or mean.

Vapid - The person feels that the ridiculous answer is funny, and he/she wishes to be seen as funny, too, so the feeling is that by choosing that answer, the ability to be funny has become theirs as well as the writer who came up with it.


Nope. Laughing at something funny is no problem. Self-identifying as funny because you feel that giving a funny answer written by someone else actually makes you funny is sad. Welcome to Assholeland! Population: 5%

Mean - The person truly wishes to give the contestant the worst imaginable answer. This subset of asshole is, by far, the worst. Not only is this person an asshole, he or she is quite possibly intelligent enough to recognize that he or she is one, but still remains one even after that recognition. I am in favor of legislation which would allow the removal of their reproductive organs in as painful a manner as is possible. Maybe with a hatchet.

(I know, I know. It would never become law. That's only because so many assholes are currently serving as elected officials. Oddly enough, the 5% rule is exactly opposite when it comes to politicians. Only 5% are NOT assholes.)

Now, one has to be careful when one starts throwing around pejoratives such as "asshole". It usually needs to be qualified. The possibility of being an asshole must sometimes be seen in relation to the surroundings. For instance, the United States of America is composed of 50 states. If the 5% rule holds, one would expect to find either 2 or 3 in that bunch of 50 which qualify as asshole states. And one does, too. However, if you're from the northeast, the asshole states are generally seen as Florida and Texas. If you're from the south? California, New York, and Massachusetts. Assholery is relative, as many people find out over the holidays.

Another example? Baseball teams. There are 25 men on the roster at most times. Therefore, there will usually be 1 or 2 assholes in the group. If you've been following the Red Sox for the past decade, it was either Manny Ramirez or Curt Schilling - or both. If the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez was usually the obvious choice, but the stink of Roger Clemens wasn't easy to hide, either.

More? OK. Take a look at this poll over at Universal Hub. See the bottom two choices? They added up to 5% when I first linked this, but close enough in any case. Easy to see that those who chose the bottom option probably are benignly vapid. Ho Ho! What's a crucifix? I vote for funny! The other option? Possibly intelligent, probably uncaring concerning any other human being's feelings. Assholes? When compared to the peaceful choices possible, and made by the other respondents, yes.

(I feel I should point out that I didn't post that poll to prove my theory. However, when the results were in, it reminded me of it.)

I could go on, but you get the point, and only an asshole keeps on explaining after his point has been made.

By the way, if you leave a comment and there are 19 other comments that seem reasonable and friendly... well, you know. Of course, if one of the comments is mine, you have nothing to worry about.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Patience Of Job

That would be job, as in work, not Job, as in the guy with all the boils.

This is an amazingly busy week for us here at Marketing Messages. We are recording and editing 10 or 11 scripts of some 40,000 words each. That's what we do, record and edit scripts. As well as being a voice talent, I am also an audio engineer and producer. There are three of us on-staff working on this particular job.

Now, the recording process for each of these scripts takes about three hours. The editing of same, into audio suitable for playback over the telephone - which is what the great majority of our work comprises - takes about the same length of time. In other words, each of these scripts is close to a full day of work for one person. They are in addition to other scheduled work due out this week. So, 10 or 11 scripts, of 40,000 words each, along with the other jobs on the board, fairly much fills the week for us - and then some.

Oh, did I mention that the scripts are in Punjabi, Urdu, Gujerati, Tamil, Kannada, and other Indian languages?


OK. Can you speak Gujerati? Probably not. Neither can I. However, even though I don't speak Gujerati, I have to record and edit Gujerati voice files. I have approximately 45 script pages of Gujerati recordings which I must chop up into sentences and small paragraphs today. And I don't understand a single blessed word of it.

A great deal of my job consists of recording languages other than English and then editing those recordings into the component pieces that a client needs. I won't give you a sample of the Gujerati, the reason being that I'm not sure how this somewhat new client would feel about issues of confidentiality and such. These scripts are connected with medical trials, and publishing them may somehow compromise those trials. However, as an example, I'll show you a page of script from a recent recording session involving Mandarin Chinese.

Annie, our Mandarin talent, is a very nice woman and a professional; almost always gets it right on the first take. At least, she seems to; I can't understand a word of what she says while she's recording.

Annie also speaks English, so it isn't as though I have the added aggravation of having to convey anything via sign language. All of our voice talents who record in languages other than English also speak English. It humbles me severely dealing with them. I'm amazingly inept at learning languages. I flunked Spanish three times in high school, as well as Latin twice and French once. Oh, I picked up a phrase here or there, but nothing very useful. For instance, I can make my need for aspirin known by saying...

"Je mal a la tete."

Which literally, in French, means, "I have a sick head". Indeed. I also know how to ask someone if they wish to go to bed with me, but I learned that from a Labelle song.

Anyway, all of these voice talents have learned my language and I know almost nothing of theirs. And I'm the producer in charge of the recording sessions. What a country!

I don't particularly enjoy working with our foreign-language voice talents. It isn't anything against them personally. They are almost uniformly pleasant to be with and nice. It's just that it's tremendously brain-wearying to listen to (what is to my ignorant ear) unintelligible gibberish for 2 or 3 hours while attempting to make notes on my copy of the script that will help me to edit it into a coherent work after the recording part is done.

Here is a bit of Annie's recent script for your viewing pleasure. You can click onto it and enlarge it. If you can't see it easily, please do that.

You'll notice my notes (or note my notices) on the script. I am reminding myself what the numbers 1, 2, and 3 sound like in Mandarin. Also, that whenever I see a particular character, it sounds like "Loo" - although when I asked Annie about the translation of that character, she gave it a stand-alone pronunciation that sounded more like "Jzoo". Sounds like "Loo" to my western ear when it is part of a sentence, so that's how I have to note it.

Being in possession of this sparse bit of information, I can more-or-less find my way around. You'll see that there is a grouping of 5 or 6 sentences where the "Loo" character is the second one in the sentence. When I get to that part of the script, I'll be able to chop it up pretty easily.

It's hard, but it's not the impossible task it might appear to be at first. Even though some of the inflection in Chinese is dissimilar to English, the overall sound of a sentence is not that far off. When someone gets to a period, the inflection is more-or-less downwards and a question sounds like a question. It takes a great deal of concentration, however, and it tires the brain.

With the Indian language script we're currently working on, there is the added aggravation - as with the Mandarin above - of most of these languages not being written in the standard "A, B, C" alphabet we English speakers are used to. The Arabic alphabet is used for Urdu, for instance, and it looks like nothing more than random squiggles to me. I'm illiterate, in a way. It's like someone who doesn't read music trying to make sense of musical notation. But, I can do the job. That's why I get the medium-sized bucks.

It's also why this will be the last entry here until next Tuesday. I am going home brain-dead every night this week. I thank God that I have a three-day weekend coming up. It should be barely enough to refresh my brain from the tapioca-like state it will no doubt be in by Friday.

I will hunt down and kill the first one of you who leaves a comment in Bahasa.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Michelle Hickman Gave Me PD!

I went to the doctor this weekend and here's the conversation we had:

Me: Hi, Doc.

Doctor: Hello, Jim. What can I do for you?

Me: Well, there's this woman, see, she’s a blogger, and she gave me... well... it's awkward, Doc.

Oh, come on, Jim! I'm a doctor. Do you think I haven't heard it all before? There’s no need to be embarrassed.

Me: Well... Uh…

Spit it out, Jim.

Me: Doc... Michelle Hickman gave me… Premio Dardos!

My doctor tried to keep his composure, but I heard the sharp intake of breath. Meanwhile, I broke down crying.

Doctor: There there, Jim, we’ll work through this together. You’re not the first person to get… Premio Dardos.

Me: I know, but… Michelle seemed so sweet. I never imagined she’d give… PD.

More sobbing on my part.

All right, Jim. Stiff upper lip and all that. Here's what you have to do. I'm giving you prescriptions for penicillin, amoxycillin, and three different sulfa drugs. Be sure to take all of them. Also, buy a bottle of A-200 and a lice comb. In addition, I’d advice dunking your junk in Listerine once every two hours. Finally, I know you're a man - and a manly man, at that - but it wouldn't hurt to invest in a couple of tubes of Monistat. And if anything falls off, put it in a plastic bag with ice, and...

At which point, I fainted.


Never heard of Premio Dardos? Neither did I until Michelle gave it to me. What it is, actually, is an award.

And we all know what happens around here when I get an award, don't we?

Yes, we do.


I truly do like Michelle, and would rather not have to kill her. However, what she did deserves retribution that is both swift and thorough. You see, she not only gave me PD, she also asked me to complete a meme - BOTH in the SAME post!

The enormity of her transgression is amazing. She tagged me TWICE in the same post. TWICE!

She certainly looks like a lovely young lady, but I'm thinking her photo must be a put-on because you need to have balls the size of cantaloupes to tag me TWICE in the same post.


Let's start the bloodshed with the award.

"Premio Dardos". Huh? Come again?

It appears to be a romance language, but what country it might be in love with is beyond me. I'll hazard a guess and say that the first word has something to do with excellence, or perhaps being of the first rank. If that's the case, Michelle found the right guy for this award. I'm certainly rank. But, "Dardos"? Glixynobbus? Pushtart ek der glabble globble? Yes, please, and a side of liverwurst.

Yeah, smartass, I Googled it. All that came up were references to other blogs that had already won the award. This award appears to be proliferating faster than a squadron of jackrabbits on Viagra. That's because one of the rules says that you're supposed to pass it on to FIFTEEN other bloggers.

Oh, Judas Iscariot on a tricycle! There goes everybody running away and hiding! Get back here, you cowardly bunch of poofs! I'm not going to give you PD! If everybody else on Teh Interwebs is dosing 15 people at a time, you'll get hit with it sooner or later without me having to take the fall for it.

Can I ask you a question, though? Just what in the name of Satan's anus is that a picture of? Maybe it's a picture of Satan's anus! Your guess is as good as mine. It appears to be giving off steam, whatever it is. So, just what in hell is it? Is it a teapot? A radiator? A sewing machine with an internal combustion engine? Michael Phelps's new bong? I'm fairly positive that at least one of you has better eyes than I do. Can you make out what it is? And, after you do, can you please tell me why?

Oh, OK, here's the "why", direct from Michelle.

This award acknowledges the values that every Blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write. Awards like this have been created with the intention of promoting community among Bloggers. It's a way to show appreciation and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.


Values? I'm displaying values? I suppose I am, but I wouldn't brag about them. If Michelle wants to be recognized as being associated with my values, so be it, but it shows tremendously poor taste on her part. However, de gustibus non est disputadum, as my grandfather said that time he was arrested for tattooing Mussolini's face on the neighbor lady's butt.

Better yet, I'm being accused of promoting community. I deny the charge, with vehemence. Anybody who's been coming around here for more than a few days knows damn well the only thing I'm promoting here is me. Anything else that happens as a side- effect I'm not responsible for. And, insofar as doing work that adds value to the web? If I'm doing that, the web sure must have been a nasty place before I got here.

Well, as usual, I’ll paraphrase Groucho Marx by saying that any award that has so little prestige attached to it that I’ve been deemed worthy of receiving it is an award that I want no part of. And then I’ll turn right around and make a lie out of that last statement by displaying the award proudly with all of the others I’ve received. This is because not only am I fibber, but I’m also an insatiable egomaniac. Thanks for being an enabler, Michelle!


Now on to the other part of this odious task, the meme. I’m supposed to go to the fourth folder in which I store photos and then post the fourth photo in that folder. Then I’m supposed to tell you something about that photo.

OK. Here it is.

This is a picture of My Grandmother, along with her sister, my Great Aunt Gerry.

Oh, the shame! To have these two lovely women be part of a post wherein Satan's anus is mentioned? Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa! I've certainly learned my lesson. I'll never again be so snide when receiving an award. I'll do nothing but say "Thank You" to whomever gives me one, and praise the Good Lord for letting me be so fortunate as to have such good friends.

OK, not bloody likely, but I had to say something like that.


Of course, Michelle is a lovely person, even if she did give me PD. In one of her past posts, she spoke about how nice it would be if, instead of seeing ourselves as black and white, we were just different shades of gray. I couldn't agree more. So, she is my darker gray friend, as I am her lighter gray friend. And, despite the 1,200 words denigrating her above, I love her. I kid, because I'm a kidder.

But, just because I'm going soft here at the end, don't entertain any notions about YOU getting away with tagging me twice in the same post. I'll rip your head off and... well, you've been warned, that's all.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Friday, February 06, 2009

I'm Still Not Here

However, if you want me, go to Emon Hassan's place. Part Two of his interview with me is up. Speaking of which...

Yesterday, in the comments section here, Fat, Frumpy & Fifty opined: "You don't do serious do ya?"

No, I rarely do. There are just too many laughs available for me to keep passing them up for the sake of appearing more mature than I am. However, in part two of the interview, I do serious. Not for most of it, of course, because that wouldn't be me, but for one question? Serious as a heart attack.

(It's slightly uncomfortable to flog something by saying it contains a segment in which I am serious and emotional, but part two of the interview has such a thing and you asked.)

I'll be back here on Monday. Michelle should be very scared.

(You may have no idea what I'm talking about, but that's OK. Michelle does.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Me? Yes, But Not Here.

I'm here, but I'm also someplace else. It's magic!

Today, I'll be sending you on a journey to meet me elsewhere. Before you leave, though, you should go home and pack your overnight bag. It will be a two-day trip.

Emon Hassan, over at Emonome, interviewed me. Among other things, Emon is a photographer and audio-visual editor and filmmaker and musician and all-around swell fellow. If you wish, you could check out some of his filmed works over on that You Tube thingie that all the kids are so hopped up about.

However, you came here to visit me, right? Well, if you want a real in-depth visit, full of all kinds of never-before-revealed secrets concerning my psyche, and also containing the answer to this question...

Q: If Deep Purple and Lawrence Welk's Orchestra fell out of an airplane, which one would hit the ground first?

... then you should get over to Emon's place immediately.

For the next two days (that would be today and tomorrow, if my math isn't off) Emon will be publishing the results of his interview with me. If I may be allowed a slight bit of immodesty, it's a fucking magnificent interview. Mainly, that's because Emon asks great questions. So, go there. See if I'm lying.

I'll be back in this space on Monday. I hope you will be, also.

Soon, with more better stuff (but I'm over at Emon's place RIGHT NOW!)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Another Frickin' Award

Here it is.

This was given to me by Pat. She's 74 years old, a licensed Lay Eucharistic Minister and Lay Eucharistic Visitor, currently a Parish Administrator and the Treasurer of her local Episcopal church. Given that she probably has a hard time reconciling all of that stuff with coming here and reading my occasionally ribald/blasphemous/cruddy attempts at writing, I am reticent about slicing and dicing her kind offering. However, that's what I do when I get one of these things, so I'm not going to be swayed by hazy notions concerning propriety.

"I Like Your Style!"

Well, I appreciate that compliment. I really do. But...

Look at that... thing. Is that a porcupine? I think it is. And it has some sort of hair beads on the ends of its quills. It's wearing a jumper and sandals. If I saw something like that coming towards me in real life, with its paws outstretched as if to give me a hug, my first reaction would be to run away screaming. I don't suppose that says anything really good about either my manliness or my Christianity, but it's the truth.

I know Pat means well. She's a nice lady. And the fact that a nice lady would be so kind as to give an award of any sort, to an old reprobate like me, should be enough to stop me from being a total weed and spitting at it. But, Damn! I'm hard-pressed to think of a more gruesome bit of cuteness.

In all fairness, I do have to say that I like the bible verse. I believe in the truth of that statement. I'm wracking my brain trying to come up with just exactly what type of gift the pictured marsupial might have, other than the ability to induce type-2 diabetes, but I think the idea is to just acknowledge that such gifts exist in all of us, even if when we put on a jumper and sandals we become the stuff of a bad STP trip.

The rules for this award...

Now there's something that truly rankles me. There are RULES when you get these awards. If you give someone an award, there shouldn't be any rules connected with receiving it. But all of these things come with obligations. Post it in such-and-such a fashion, and link to the person who gave it to you, then pass it on (like a case of the clap) to 16 or 20 other poor souls. There's less pressure involved in winning a Tony (although something like this is usually more indicative of actual popularity, I'll grant you that.)

Anyway, I'm supposed to bestow this upon some other folks. Now, given the level of vituperation I've shown here concerning this, you might logically assume that I wouldn't foist this onto anyone else. You would be wrong, of course. I am nothing if not full of schadenfreude.

(I think it's schadenfreude I'm full of. I know the word begins with an "S", but I don't recall it having quite so many syllables.)

Without any further ado (and we all know how hard that is for me) here are my victims:

Melinda, at From One London To Another. She is a wonderful writer and a truly nice person. The best reason I can think of for me to saddle her with this, however, is that she's too nice to fight back. She's also Canadian. I've never held that against her before, but tough times call for tough measures.

Sween, at Space Monkey Pants. I'm giving it to him because, while he may actually acknowledge getting the award here via a comment (and a funny one at that), he'll likely ignore it otherwise. And he's also Canadian.

Jinksy, at Napple Notes. She's not Canadian, she's English. Close enough.

Brinkbeest, at Brinkbeest In English. She's Dutch. That fact has about as much to do with this as Pauly Shore has to do with civility and good taste, but I've never before given an award to anyone Dutch and I feel I owe that nation something for the many hours of listening pleasure I've received from Focus.

(If it's any consolation to the good folk named above, I would have been more than happy to dump this thing in the laps of nothing but French bloggers, if I knew any. I don't, however, so you're stuck with it.)

And now, having insulted as many people as international law allows me to do in one sitting, I bid you a fondue. You may think that's a malapropism, but when you consider the cheese here, no.

Soon, with more better stuff.

UPDATE: Turns out I actually do know a French blogger. She's only been on my sidebar for, oh, two or three months now. D'Oh! OK, she gets it, too. Hi, Daisy!

UPDATE #2: Here's the payback you get when you try to be oh-so-snarky when given a lovely award by someone nice. I have been informed, by Shammickite, that porcupines are not marsupials. She is right, of course. For some damned reason, I was thinking of a possum while I was writing that bit. Double D'Oh!

UPDATE #3: Of course, Shammickite is a Canadian. She would have to be to point that out, of course. And, now, she has also won the award. Enjoy!