Thursday, November 18, 2010

Voiceover for Dummies

Sometimes, the absurdities in life can be just delightful.

A few weeks ago, I had a commercial voice-over audition, a rare event, as I mostly do animation. This audition was for a national clothing chain which may or may not have mannequins as their spokespeople. I was reading for an Asian grandfather mannequin, and the audition consisted of one word: "Cable-knits!" (hee hee, that cracks me up right there.) At the recording studio, they informed me that there was to be no accent. I guess the mannequin was born and raised in America. I don't question why an Asian guy has to read for an Asian mannequin that has no accent, because, really, why bite the (synthetic) hand that feeds you? So I go into the booth and give them about 12 different "Cable-knits!" ranging from the mildly surprised to the near-orgasmic. Some "Cable-knits!" gets a little chuckle sprinkled over the word, some get a warm frown-smile baked right in. Try saying "Cable-knits" 12 times. I'll wait. 

 Do you really know what you're saying anymore?

Ah, it was a good day at the office.

This week I get several calls from my agent, checking my availability and semi-putting me on hold for the spot. Excellent! My familiarity with sweater styles has paid off! Yes! Then, yesterday I got another call. The agent tells me, "The client just wants to make sure that it'll be okay to have no accent. They didn't hear any, but they just want to make sure."



Now, this is transportive in so many levels. Okay, so they didn't hear any accent in the audition, but... they want to be sure I don't have one? One that they didn't hear? Hmmm... Perhaps they're afraid it will suddenly spring out at them, a form of dialect Tourettes. Coiled inside every Asian-American is an inner Mr. Miyagi, just waiting to bust out...

And then, there's my agent (a friendly fellow) who is impelled (compelled?) to call just to make sure that I'm comfortable not speaking in an accent that I don't have. I love Los Angeles. I tell him that, while a little New Jersey sometimes slips out from time to time, I think I'll be okay speaking dialect-free.

Unfortunately, this giddy ride ends here. Later that afternoon, I get released for the spot. Apparently, they decided to go with another guy with less of an accent than the one I don't have. Or maybe the Asian mannequin didn't test well, and they couldn't use me to voice a mannequin who wasn't Asian. Who would believe that mannequin! It would be absurd!

Ah well. I guess my North American Mannequin dialect needs a little work. I'm off to the mall, then, where I can learn to speak as the locals do...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Adventures in Publishing Part 2

Where the hell have I been? Sorry, sorry to be so out of action. I've been doing stuff, honest! And not just catching up on "The Walking Dead"and reorganizing my son's school library (which, yes, I have undertaken, giving further credence to my uber-geek status— Step-stools! Langston Hughes Quotes! Magnetic Chalkboards! Bookmarks with Neil Gaiman on them! We must have them all!). We've reached a bit of a holding pattern on the book front.

Agent J has been sending out feelers to editors of publishing houses that may be interested in a new literary work that combines prose with passages of screenplay and graphic novel (that's my book, for those late to the party) and the general feeling is, more of the artwork needs to be done in order to give it the best shot at being understood and sold. I had a feeling that this would happen, though at first we were thinking that having a sample of the graphic novel sections would suffice.  I ran the news by the illustrator,  Sungyoon Choi, who also had a feeling that this might be the case. Choi, being the lovely being that she is, has agreed to finish up the graphic novel sections so that we can go forward with a fully-completed manuscript by mid-January. I am of course incredibly happy and excited to see the graphic novel scripts I have written realized. Choi and I are going to Las Vegas next month to do some research, and we'll be working closely together on bringing it all together... (I have also recently discovered that I've been calling Choi by her last name all of this time, instead of Sungyoon, her first name.  Heh heh... I can only say in my defense that she encourages people to use her last name, as it's much easier than pronouncing her first. )

So I have a little time. Of course, there's stuff to be done. I have just finished going through my manuscript again, giving it a final polish. And there's the matter of the title... sigh. Who knew that the name would be so hard to come up with? Agent J (and a few of my close readers) have felt that "Liberace Under Venetian Skies" was too... narrow in its scope, and didn't represent the tone of the book. Since then I've batted many many possibilities around, but none have stuck so far. Of those that readers have seen, "And then She was Gone" was quite popular, but Agent J felt it sounded too much like a Lifetime movie (possibly starring Ms Sela Ward) and that put me right off of it. Back to square one. I'm sure I'll have many more options to post in the days ahead.

Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?
The name of my favorite Lifetime movie, starring Miss Tori Spelling
In the meantime, let me leave you with a very fun website for those of you writers who want to look at your work in a different discipline. It's called wordle ( and it takes whatever text you paste into it, finds the most frequently-used non-common words, and makes it into art. COUNTLESS hours can be wasted changing fonts and layouts. Here's my book, set to wordle:

Hey, maybe there's a title in there somewhere. I'll have to look into that, just as soon as I watch zombies chow down on a few more folks from Georgia.