Archive for March, 2010

The author as a live cartoon character

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Sometimes I get to do things I enjoy for money. While I do a certain amount of voice overs in a comfy studio, last week I was asked to do some live voice for animated characters at an international conference held in the Brussels Conference Center.

This was the deal. Conferences have speakers. Between speakers there’s not much snap, or great segue, no keep awake punches. The conference’s communications guy wanted some snap and got the idea of having satirical figures introducing speakers, delivering boring conference information, and suchlike. I had a contact, Tanya Arler , who got my name in the bag, and after a conversation, I landed the gig, as did Tanya.

During the morning, I played one of the two hecklers from The Muppet Show called Statler and Waldorf. I was Waldorf, the big-jaw one. muppets
Then in the afternoon, I played the Dalai Lama using a high-pitched Chinese accent that would never ever fly in the USA as being totally un-PC. Europe is less contaminated by such niceties. Satire has a bigger bite and stronger tradition in these various necks of the EU woods (what’s the old saying in the USA theater? “Satire is what closes on opening night”).Vincent Eaton as the Dalai Lama cartoon + Arnie cartoon This photo was taken off the monitor that showed what audience saw on the auditorium screen.

The performer who did the other voice sitting next to me was Olivier Schalbroeck a Belgian improv pro and we had a lot of fun sparking off each other and messing with the script. He played the other muppet and Arnie.

Here’s the technicalities. Software was used that, as I spoke into the microphone, the mouth of the character moved and the audience heard it simultaneously and, if all went well, they were entertained and laughed. For various facial movements, two techies, one per character, had joysticks and could make the eyebrows, cheeks, hairline and lots more move. Techies watching monitors & cartoon set-up Here you see the techies with 1) a joystick, 2) a screen for the characters, 3) bottom screen of the audience, and 4) camera shot of the stage.) It’s compact, workable and a bit flying by the seat of one’s pants.

Ideally one has a single director in such events. But we got three, which is always a generally awful idea. First the Communications Guy organizing the conference came in early and told us to add things to the script and interact with the audience and mock the speakers, and be daring, try things, shake it up. After we got going in the morning, our producer who put this all together, Dimitri Oosterlynck of Magicworlds, wore a headset and squatted next to us listening to suggestions/commands coming from the head booth telling us, bit by bit, not to interact with the audience so much, then skip the interacting with the conference speakers unless they did so first, not to be so “aggressive” and in short, by the afternoon, don’t be daring or shake it up. Dimitri tried to guide us as well, more gently, screening us from the client. But with three directors, three directions, and then us two talented meatballs, Olivier and me, trying to tiptoe gigantically between them and pleasing everyone and getting blander and more beige as the day wore on.

Here’s a photo I took off the monitor showing the excited looking audience seated in the conference center of Brussels.Audience in monitor waiting for Vincent Eaton to perform as cartoon character

Here’s the stage (photo off monitor again) where the cartoon characters would appear on the right when we were “on”. Stage screen

We were asked to write, then re-write the script according to what was being said by a speaker. This photo is a shot of the desk/table I sat at. script table of Vincent EatonThere are two microphones: one for making the mouth of the character move, the other to be heard in the hall. There’s the folder of the event. Pages of the script. A yellow marker, to mark My Words so I would say them and not my partner’s. A pen to add jokes and scratch out jokes and rewrite again and then wait for someone to direct me after I had said it and ell me not to be so daring, or quite so long, the next time.

Overall, it was a success, I was told. The Talent just had to be in permanent creative adjustment mode from morning to late afternoon. And it was a great energy suck. Five minutes of action, 30 or 60 or 90 minutes of wait around while a speech was made or panel discussion went on. Repeat for nine hours.

Audio book: Part Two, Statements & Chapter 1, author reads from “Self-Portrait of Someone Else”

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Podcast image Monday. Podcast, ongoing & going on. The beginning of Part Two, Alisa’s Statement & Chapter 5 & another Alisa’s Statement from “Self-Portrait of Someone Else”. The author reads it. 12:58 minutes

Previous chapters can be found under Images & Performance on this blog; they have been posted every Monday. Part Two continues next Monday.

To listen, click here: Audio clip/podcast – Self-Portrait of Someone Else, Alisa’s Statement & Part Two, Chapter 1

Story – Speed Dating

Friday, March 5th, 2010

speed dating

My favorite color is blue. My favorite food is pizza. Do you like me yet?



My parents divorced me when I was very young. No, that’s negative….did I say “divorce me”? Well. Wow. Freud slipped right in there, didn’t he? Well, you’re starting to get to know me.

Hey, how many minutes do we have again?

I like films, TV, anything based on reality. That’s not true. I have fantasies. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a fried egg, sunny side up, and be the yolk as the edge of a crust of toasted bread broke me open and all my yellow would flood and run everywhere. Always wondered that. Or maybe it’s all sexual. Who knows! Mysteries of the human—sorry?

Time’s awasting.

Maybe you want to know this stuff about me. Dior. Picasso, the European car not the painter. Saab. Let me say that again so there is no mistaking. Saaaaaab…. Sensuous, huh? Vogue. Vanity Fair. The New Yorker, optional. Silk. Silk. Silk. I cannot emphasize that enough. “Houston, we have a problem.” That still works for me. Shakespeare, the comedies, if I have to. Teen comedies, no. Slapstick, I’m a girl, so I don’t get all of it. Piercing, tattoos, goes without saying, not on my body. Terrorism. What is this big deal about terrorism? Did none of those people have parents when they were growing up? Oooh, terrorism. So scared!

Is this helping any? How about family stuff—

My father has a mustache, my mother dyes her hair red. I had an aunt who was a drunk and an uncle who I think tried to touch me improperly when I was young but I have blocked it all out, almost. Sorry, again, too negative.

I’ve never been to Bermuda but I’d like to go to Spain. Yes, the Bermuda Islands. No, not the shorts. You must think I’m crazy. I’m looking for love. I don’t have any pets. I think about politics but don’t get involved—what? Pets? Allergies. Ah-choo. Their fur. Or saliva. I need to take some medical tests on that.

Snow. Surf. Turf. Like it all.

God, where’s the time gone!

My grandparents are dead.

What more did you want to know?

Food, pizza. Color, blue.

I was toilet trained at an early age so I’m good that way. Same with tying my shoe laces. A snap.

Also, I may be allergic to dust or I don’t clean my place enough. One or the other. Love drives in the desert. Hate it when I’m in an airplane and hit an air pocket and everything goes zoom and people scream and things go flying and my stomach comes up. What? You too! Gosh. We have so much in common!

I’ve had maybe fifteen boyfriends. Sean, Bob, Frank, Tony—oh you don’t want those details.

I have a driver’s license, own a bicycle and went go-carting once. I follow my instincts. I’m very emotional, but don’t believe in Astrological signs. I mean, please, the Big Boom happens and the Milky Way comes out so neat that my future is foretold up there? I wish. If you look up at the stars tonight and see my fate, please, give me a shout. I’d really like to know. What? The Big Boom was the Big Bang? Big difference. I’m sure the universe wants us to get that terminology right.


I’m taking cooking lessons. Drugs—just say no.

Do you sort of like me yet?

Foods. Not too processed. Love. Not too processed. This—what?

No! No! My time is not up. We still have a chance of making this work. This is my life! It’s not ending. It feels like it’s just at the start.




But what about our love then?

Matches – Union Oyster House (Boston)

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Boston Union Oyster (Boston) Matchbook front I picked these matches up in a eatery in Boston. I was in town for a different reason. To experience something glorious and historic. The experience ended in a small, sharp expletive.

The following video was inspired by the matchbook from the Union Oyster House.

Audio book: Part One, Chapter 5, author reads from “Self-Portrait of Someone Else”

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Podcast image

Monday. The end of Part One, Chapter 5, from “Self-Portrait of Someone Else”. I’m reading it. 9:08 minutes in total.

Previous chapters can be found under Images & Performance to the right of this blog; they have been posted every Monday. And will continue, with Part Two starting next Monday.

To listen, click here: Part One, Chap 5, from Self-Portrait of Someone Else, read by the author