May 2009

Purdu Purdoesn't!

Here in NC we have a new Governor, our first female of the species, Beverly Purdu. She ran on, among other things, improvements in education. Ok, here are some of the improvements we've experienced, so far:

First, pay reductions of a least 5% for all state employed teachers.

Second, in spite of assurances that lay offs would come only as a last resort, hundreds of teachers are getting the axe in Charlotte alone. Other schools systems will follow shortly.

Third, Irene and I just received notice that a few changes will take effect in the state employee insurance plan, effective July 1st. Changes like elimination of the low-deductible, premium plan (which we are on)...increased premiums, inceased co-pays, increased deductibles, no more dental plan, reduced coverage, and an absolute refusal to cover non-generic drugs if a generic version is available!

That last one really bothers me. Even if our doctor indicates "DAW" (dispense as written) on the prescription, this plan will not cover it if there is an alternative, generic drug available! So now, in essence, the bean counters are making medical decisions.

Less pay, uncertain job security, higher insurance costs, and interference with medical decisions... Gee, Bev, where the hell is all that money the new state "education" lottery is supposedly bringing in? Please don't make any more of your improvements. I know times are tough, but how is this going to make them better?

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V O Porta-Booth?

I ran across an e-zine article by Chicago area voiceover guy, Harlan Hogan, describing a gizmo he created to handle ambient noise on the microphpone when in a less than ideal environment. Since Irene and I travel between NC and PA fairly often, I thought this would be a good thing to try with my portable recording rig. Some of those motel rooms get pretty noisy.

The componants are simple and cheap: 4 pieces, each one foot square, of Auralex 2" thick acoustic foam ($4 each); and a 14" Whitmor Collapsible Cube, available online from Target, Amazon, and others, for about $15.The foam comes in integrated slabs that pull apart into two separate wedge-contoured pieces... easy to store and carry. The cube collapses to a flat square, also easy to store and carry. Total investment... about $35.

I stuffed the foam in the container (opened): one piece in back, one on each side, and one on top. Then put my microphone on a short desk stand and placed it about a third of the way inside the cube. Then tried running comparison tests... with and without the cube.

I'm a bit disappointed. The cube sucks up a lot of the "presence", making the mike sound a bit dull and muffled. It also does little to filter out unwanted background noise (like a running air conditioner). Tell me what you think... here is a brief line done without The Cube, and here is one recoded using The Cube, as pictured above.

I'll experiment some more and see if there is some trick to getting a better sound, and may even try to contact Hogan for information. Maybe I should use a more directional mike? The Neumann TLM 103, shown, is very sensitive and unforgiving!

If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. On our next road trip I hope to be set up with a quiet portable booth and a laptop with Source Connect, to allow me to do real-time sessions, similar to ISDN, from any motel room with a broadband connection.

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Famous Last Words
(From Sports Announcers)

Boxing Analyst: "Sure there have been injuries, and even some deaths in boxing, but none of them really that serious."

Softball announcer: "If history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again."

Tennis commentator: "One of the reasons Andy is playing so well is that, before the final round, his wife takes out his balls and kisses them… er... I mean..."

Old School…

Sure enough… the adage is correct; things change! I remember when a cardinal rule in broadcasting was to never run two competing client’s ads in the same hour. It later became, “within the same commercial break”. Now you see and hear car dealer’s ads running back to back, and back again!!

I used to go over each spot with a fine-toothed comb to make sure everything was right before it was released for broadcast. Current broadcast standards appear a bit more lax!

Now a lot of scripts seem to be written by semi-illiterate ESL students. And nobody in the production crew seems to be paying attention, either. A local Charlotte area Toyota dealer's TV spot featured what the announcer called “an unprecedented offer”, but the on-screen graphic called it “unpercented”!

Unpercented... Is that, like, no interest?

Alas and alack, what is to become of our beloved English language? We live in a world of “ice tea” (whatever happened to iced tea?), “stain glass” (something to put your varnish in?), and “boil peanuts” (better see a doctor about that!).

And now cell phone texting is wreaking even more havoc: OMG, UR GR8! TLK-2-U-L8R.

I can’t wait to get my first script in text-type! WTF!

Beemer Me Up, Scotty!

I don't understand it! We just had to open a major financial artery and bleed money into our favorite German specialty garage to have a front drive axle replaced on our BMW X5!

Gosh, and I'm such a gentle driver! Pay no attention to my wife's opinion... I get a lot of mileage out of tires by not always keeping them in contact with the abrasive surface of the road. And you can ask any man... you really need to blow that carbon build-up out of the engine by flooring it once in a while!

But I finally figured out what "BMW" stands for: Bring Money With you!

And another thing about the X5s... you have to get 'em Sanforized before you run them through a car wash!


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"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity."

Albert Einstein


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Daylight in the Swamps!

I don't want to be interpreted as "sounding the all-clear", but doesn't there appear to be some easing in the economy? After a pretty long dry spell, in which I experienced a drastic reduction in voiceover jobs, business has started to sputter back to life again.

It is, by no means, the end of the financial crisis that grips most of the world now. But it evokes a glimmer of hope and a sense that things will, eventually, get better. I had at least one week, recently, in which I was hard pressed to find any spare time for chores and responsibilities other than the ones that kept me in the studio, recording and editing projects.

Nice jobs, too: A new toy for Mattel, a dozen spots for the Armed Forces Network, a couple of celebrity-focused documentaries (that I can't talk about yet), lots of car dealer spots, and more. If this keeps up, we might just survive this crisis!

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