Tuesday, January 20, 2009

TGAPGeorge on Sweet Success Radio!

There are a lot of things in life that most people don't get to do. Of all those things, there are a lot that people either don't think about, or simply take for granted. I believe being on the radio is one of those things.

I mean, it's not like TV. That's still pretty big... like how radio used to be. In any case, I never really thought about being on the radio as an item on my "must do" list. Then my friend Bill Byrd started his own show, and nationally at that on Sirius radio. Suddenly, radio was cool again.

But it was still just, well, radio. At least, that's how I felt until Bill invited me to be on the show. In seconds, radio went from being a quaint medium from a bygone age to "Oh man, my voice will be heard across the nation! What am I gonna say?" Yeah, I was a little nervous.

To combat the angst, I started writing. I wrote down topics that I knew pretty well. I wrote questions I wanted to be asked. I wrote down the answers too, for my questions and any Bill might throw at me. I practiced in the mirror. I practiced in the car. I gave long orations and lectures for the dogs -- and they seemed quite impressed with me.

Saturday arrived and I was feeling fine... about half the time. It took awhile to leave the house, not because of the jitters, but mainly because of the question, "What does one wear to a radio debut?"

I found the recording studio without a problem (it is in a Seminary School). On any other day, I would have described the room as small, cramped even, with archaic oversized microphones, and that funny pyramid foam padding nailed to the walls.

With my interview looming, the room that day seemed to be the height of technology. In front of Bill's chair were two computer screens, and the room was divided in half, with steps leading to a hi-tech booth that overlooked the "talent" from behind a huge pane of glass.

I was greeted warmly and shown to my chair opposite Bill. As a distraction from my from my nervousness, I began to fixate on little details. I noticed they had provided a small Styrofoam cup filled with water, resting on a gold-plated coaster that was stamped with the seal of the school and inlaid in the surface of the table. I noticed that the arms that held both Bill's and my microphones were bolted to a wide wooden divider that ran the length of table, and their positions constricted my view so that I could only make eye contact with Bill one eye at a time. The room was cold.

They ran me through the few but important rules of being on the radio. Get comfortable then don't move. Lay out your papers so you don't have to move them; the rustling noise is easily picked up. Position your mic so that you don't have to move your head, then don't move your head -- not even to look at Teresa the Co-Host on my right when answering a question from her.

We chatted a bit about what we would talk about on air and I felt fine. We got the 30-second warning from the techs in the booth and I felt fine. The intro music swelled in my headphones, Bill began to talk and, yes, I felt fine.

Then Bill greeted his radio audience, "Going out live across the country... with my guest, George," and suddenly I wasn't fine. My hands became cold and clammy. The pre-show conversation about how Bill had a "cough-button" to mute himself and I didn't flashed before my eyes. Of course, right then and there, more than any other time in my life, I felt the urge to cough.

I knew the first five minutes was all Bill's, that he wouldn't even ask me to say hi, but still, I was poised -- heh, catlike -- ready to jump in instantly. I had my notes laid out before me -- positioned of course so that I wouldn't rustle the papers -- and I reviewed them carefully, only moving my eyeballs and not my head.

Finally, I could tell Bill was building up to my first words. He was introducing me, telling the national audience who I was, what I've done, and why they should care. He didn't pause for me to say "hi", just moved seamlessly into the first question.

It was an easy question, a lay-up. It was simple, basically asking me how I became a writer. I've told the story, the summary, and the synopsis of this tale thousands of times before to thousands of people so this was one of the things I didn't write down in my notes. Of course when Bill stopped for my answer, my mind went blank.

I pictured truck drivers across the country smirking at their radios. I pictured Ma and Pa sitting in the parlor of their farm house, leaning toward the large, wood-paneled radio while muttering, "City boy." I even had a flash of that movie scene where everyone in Times Square, NYC is still and hushed, all peering at the jumbo-tron and waiting.

It seemed like an eternity of delay before I managed to get something out -- I've listened to the podcast, it's not nearly that long. I began talking, trying to sound intelligent, trustworthy, or at the very least, coherent. While I told my tale, I -- and you can as well -- pictured a little Me, running frantically around the suddenly messy library in my mind, grabbing handfuls of papers containing descriptions, stories, and anecdotes and rushing them to the harried stenographer whose machine was wired directly to my mouth.

I finally stopped talking. There was a slight pause, and Bill nodded "Okay." I had done it! I don't think I really answered his question and I may have sounded like a deranged cockatoo that's just learned to repeat some phrases, but dang it, I made it! Of course there was still 54 minutes left in the show...

Which went fine. After that, I calmed down and just had a chat with Bill and Teresa about business for an hour. It was a lot of fun. I wouldn't want to do it every week, but I'll definitely go back. If they want me to, that is.

Check out sweetsuccessradio.com. The three parts of my radio debut will be posted this week. There's podcasts of Bill's show every week so even if you don't have Sirius radio, you can still listen in.

Tune in next week when our intrepid hero confronts the evil doctor...

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Craft of War: Blind

Now, I've liked machinima since right before it got the label "machinima." (Machinima is animation using a video game's engine.) I used to watch RedVsBlue all the time, and still do occasionally. If you haven't seen a RedVsBlue episode, please stop breaking big rocks into small rocks and ask the warden if you can visit the computer room.

Yesterday, I came across something that blew my mind. It's a machinima short made with the World of Warcraft game engine, but... well, it's just incredible. It's The Craft of War: Blind by Percula. Here is his triumph:

The Craft of War: BLIND from percula on Vimeo.

Percula admits he used to work in animation -- it's pretty obvious by the quality -- but says this is only his second creative endeavor for public viewing. (The first is lost forever apparently) He has also said that he's been between jobs for a few months now.

After seeing this video, there is no way that this person will lack for money anytime in the near future.

Grats, Percula, for this mesmerizing video. The music choice and usage were perfect, and your storytelling impressive. Please keep on making these videos. If it's more about the two rogue characters, great! If you plan to do a mini story on each class in turn, even better.

My only request is that you do warriors next.

Thanks again, Percula!

Yep, I'm gonna have to watch it again...