"Okay, let's go over this ONE more time.  This is the rocket, and Gordon's face there is the moon."  Gordon:  Dear God, not again.  Guy On The Left:  How come they never point the rocket at MY face?

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Houston, You Have a Problem

No, I didn't screw up that quote.  It's not MY problem, or OUR problem.  It's Houston's problem.  More specifically, it's Space Center Houston's problem.

ALMOST 1 YEAR LATER (Wednesday, May 6th, 2015)...

I'm back from the dead!  Why the prolonged absence, you ask?  Well, I don't really have an excuse.  It just happened.  Let us never speak of it again.

Okay, since it's been so long, I can't recall all the details I was going to relate in this post.  But I can tell you this:

If you ever visit Space Center Houston and encounter a little old lady who is evidently in their employ, do not - I repeat - DO NOT take her advice.  Her words to me were something along the lines of, "If you only do ONE thing while you're here, you MUST take the tour!"

Now, either this lady has a wicked sense of humor, or it's been a LONG time since she's personally taken the tour...you know...back when it was interesting.  Because the tour I took made me wonder how we ever managed to put a man on the moon.  If indeed we did actually put a man on the moon, 'cause that whole Stanley Kubrick/The Shining thing WAS pretty compelling.  But I digress.

The tour was conducted on one of those open-air, multi-car tour bus thingies (like a miniature train without the tracks), and can be broken down into segments as follows:


1.  A field where something happened once.

2.  Cows.

3.  Another field where something happened once.

4.  More cows.

5.  Pre-recorded narration by some guy who was at one time affiliated with NASA, the audio quality of which had me expecting to hear, "Do you want fries with that?" at any moment.

6.  Walking up four flights of stairs.

7.  Looking down into a large, surprisingly unimpressive "actual" NASA research facility containing all kinds of equipment, cheap tables, cheap chairs, a couple of space-related items scattered here and there, and ABSOLUTELY NO NASA RESEARCHERS.  Maybe they were all out launching a probe or something.  I dunno.  But there weren't no research a-happenin' while we were there.

8.  Walking down four flights of stairs.

9.  Gut-wrenching fear and visions of seemingly imminent carnage as the driver of the tour bus thingy takes corners at speeds approaching mach one.  (A disgruntled test-pilot wannabe, no doubt.  And really, who can blame him?  Getting demoted to tour bus thingy driver and all.  And yet, his complete disregard for human life cannot go unnoticed.)

10.  Another field.

11.  Deep, heartfelt sympathy for the people on the tour who apparently came all the way from another country for this.

12.  A renewed lack of confidence in the U.S. government.

13.  Cows.


I must, however, give credit where credit is due.  The Saturn V rocket was pretty darned impressive.  But then, I suppose human beings are innately impressed by big stuff.  Dinosaurs.  The Titanic.  Val Kilmer.

And the other exhibits were semi-cool.  Mostly because they were indoors and didn't involve cows or the possibility of vehicular manslaughter.  But still semi-cool.  So don't get me wrong - by all means, go visit Space Center Houston - just don't take the tour.  And if you see that little old lady, run.  Run like hell.

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of...Honey Tea

Hey there!  Yes, I know it's been almost two months since my last post.  Sorry.  But I'm happy to say that reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

So you've probably heard of "Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day" - a fun little idea that many enjoy taking part in through various social media.  Even the social media sites get into the act, with an option to change your language of choice to "pirate-speak."  But if you've ever had to actually talk like a pirate for a day, you'd probably have a different outlook on the whole idea.

A few months ago, I received a script that called for your typical, boisterous, lusty, gravel-voiced pirate, which is hard enough on the ol' vocal cords in and of itself.  But this pirate was an announcer.  Understand?  A pirate announcer.  A sort of ringmaster.  A rabble-rouser.  Which meant that he had to be even more boisterous, lusty, and gravel-voiced than usual.  A pirate among pirates, you might say.

Well, it took most of an afternoon to get the script recorded, and by the time I was finished, I had totally blown out my pipes.  Also, I had developed a seething hatred of all things pirate.  I petulantly yanked off my eye patch and shoved all my 'Caribbean DVDs into my document shredder.  My hoarseness precluded me from doing any voice work for the next few days.  And my shredder mysteriously stopped working.

You're supposed to drink warm tea with honey for this sort of thing, but as luck would have it, I was fresh out of Earl Grey.  Also honey.

"Look yonder, lad!  Thar be the booty we be aimin' to plunder!"
"But captain, all I see is the YWCA..."

The aftermath of this debacle led to the formation of a new policy:  Any client with a job that calls for excess strain on the vocal cords will incur an additional (and substantial) fee.  It also got me to thinkin' that actual pirates probably didn't talk that way.  They couldn't have.  If they did, they'd be mute within a week.  Or maybe they did talk that way - they just slipped generous dollops of honey into their rum jugs.

"You cretins down there better not get too close!  'Cause the only thing you'll get an eyeful of is one of my freakishly pointy shoes!"

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Pssst...Everyone's Laughing at You

This one is for all you folks out there who are your own biggest fans.  You know who you are.  You've lost touch with reality to such an extent that you actually think it's okay to completely ignore emails or voice-mails, or any other kind of mails, unless they're from someone as awesome as you (pffft!), or someone who could possibly assist you with your own personal agenda in some form or fashion.

What you don't realize is that the extent to which you take yourself seriously is inversely proportionate to the extent to which everyone else takes you seriously (except for lemmings, of course...if you're okay with the company of lemmings, then you're all set for your rise to super-stardom).  In other words, the more you like yourself, the less everyone else likes you.  So you just wind up looking like a great big ol' douche-bag.

You people can be found in virtually every occupational field in existence, but you're especially prevalent in the areas of broadcast and entertainment.  I've run into many of you.  And many of you I'd like to run into again -- next time in a vehicle of some sort.  Because, really, you're more of a hindrance than anything else.  You no longer offer anything of real value to society, much less the world, because you think of no one but yourself, and you do for no one but yourself.

So do us all a favor and come back.  Come back to reality.  Because you don't actually have superpowers, and no, the world does not constantly readjust its axis based on where you happen to be standing at any given time.  Once your feet are back on good ol' terra firma again, grab your iPhone, or your iPad, or whatever type of iDevice you carry around as though it were one of your vital organs, and Google the word "humility."  After carefully studying the definition for awhile, you should be well on your way to getting over this malady that has afflicted you and all those around you:  Yourself.

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

The Blog Post that Wrote Itself

I'll just come right out and tell you that this post has nothing whatsoever to do with voice work.  But, as the title implies, it basically wrote itself, and a cut-and-paste blog post opportunity is just too good to pass up.  Besides, it's pretty darned entertaining.  Lord knows I was entertained at the time.

Okay, so here's the setup:  I was doing a bit of online banking earlier this week, when I ran into a minor problem.  I decided to utilize the bank's "live chat" service, and was promptly greeted by *ahem* "Samantha," my Bank of America representative for the day.

Now, unless you live under a rock (and no offense to those who do), you know that most American corporations these days outsource their customer support centers to distant and exotic lands, where English is not the primary language.  It seems that India is a popular choice.  Then, to add insult to injury, they slap names like "Robert" or "Jessica" on these poor saps in a thinly veiled attempt to pass them off as Americans.

Edna's phone habit was quickly escalating out of control.  Ironically, all her friends kept calling to offer their support.

Unfortunately, these support folks can't always use the prepared phrases they've been given, and they have to venture out on their own and attempt to write like an American (and nowadays, it's hard enough for an American to write like an American).


I'm obviously not alone in my opinion that this practice is messed-up, but I won't go into all the reasons why.  I ain't no political-type o' feller.  Besides, you already know 'em.  And no, I'm not making fun of anyone's ethnicity.  Lighten up, people.


Anyhow, long story short, I decided to have a little fun with "Samantha," and I'm posting the actual exchange.  Enjoy!

* * * BEGIN TRANSMISSION * * *

Thank you for choosing Bank of America. Samantha Cox is ready to assist you.

Samantha Cox: Hello! To assist you with your personal checking or savings account,  may I please have your first and last name?

(I was greatly tempted at this point to write, "Samantha Cox?  I think I've seen some of your movies," but alas, I didn't.)

you: Mark Morris

Samantha Cox: Good Afternoon Mark. How may I assist you today?

you: I transferred a payment from my checking account to my credit card account earlier today, but I don't see any indication that I made the transfer. Is this something you can verify for me?

Samantha Cox: I see you wish to know about the payment.  I will be glad to check that for you.

you: Um, okay.

Samantha Cox: I see that you made a bill pay check and it will be posted once the check will be presented for the payment.

you: I actually meant to make a transfer. Can you cancel the pending transaction (bill pay) so that I can just make a transfer instead?

Samantha Cox: Sure, I can provide the steps and if you will not be do it, I will certainly provide the contacting number for the Bill Paying department?

you: That is sounding good to me, Samantha?

Samantha Cox: Thank you for the permission. I will guide you with the steps. Locate payee listed in Payment Plan Description module. Let me know once you are done.

you: I am not seeing the payee that is to be listed in Payment Plan Description Module.

Samantha Cox: Alright, let me provide the contacting number of bill paying department so that they are cancel the bill payment right away.

you: I am thanking you very much.

Samantha Cox: You are welcome.

Samantha Cox: Please call us at 1.800.933.6262. Rest assured that once you will call us you will be getting the best possible assistance. Do you have additional questions that I can answer for you?

you: Did you hear that Clemens is returning to the mound? I'm totally jazzed about that.

Samantha Cox: I have never heard about that.

you: Oh, sorry, Samantha! I thought everyone in the country had heard about it by now. Anyhow, thanks very much for your help!

Samantha Cox: You are welcome. Shall I be online with you while you making a call?

you: That is not being necessary, Samantha, but I am thanking you anyway. Have a great day!

Samantha Cox: Do you have any other questions?

you: Is there anything you can do about these ridiculous monthly maintenance fees, transfer fees, overdraft fees, etc?

Samantha Cox: Sure, please go ahead with your question.  

you: Okay - is there anything you can do about these ridiculous monthly maintenance fees, transfer fees, overdraft fees, etc?

Samantha Cox: Are you referring to monthly maintenance fees and overdraft fees?

you: How did you guess?

Samantha Cox: I have checked your account.

you: You are really on top of things, Samantha! Bank of America should be thankful to have you. But yes, is there anything you can do?

Samantha Cox: Absolutely.

you: Really?!?!? That's great!

Samantha Cox: Let me check the best I can do for you.

Samantha Cox: I see that you have been with the bank, that is certainly a long time and we do appreciate your long term relationship with us and I certainly want that you have more fantastic years with the bank.

you: Well, I certainly want to have more fantastic years with the bank as well, Samantha. It's been one hell of a ride.

Samantha Cox: Based on your account history, we are able to place a refund to your account in the amount of $47.00. Would you like me to process this for you?

you: $47.00 sounds great, but is there any chance you could do better? You really seem like you know how to get things done. I'm thinking someone like you could probably pull some strings and do better than $47.00!

Samantha Cox: I can check that for you.

Samantha Cox: Mark, you are a valued customer of Bank of America and refund request has been processed. Please check refund of $47.00 first. Let me know once you are done. Then we will check more.

you: I'm really starting to like you, Samantha! You must be one of those East Coast girls who really know how to make things happen. Let me check for that refund. One moment, please...

Samantha Cox: Sure, please take your time.

Samantha Cox: Just to confirm, are we connected?

Samantha Cox: Due to the elapsed time since we received your last message, we are exiting the chat session.

you: Wait! What happened to "take your time?"

Samantha Cox: I apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused.  I am here.

you: Great! I see some activity on my account, but I can't really tell what's going on.

Samantha Cox: Please re-log in Online Banking. Then click on account page and once you are there you will be able to see that under activity.

you: Oh wow. Look at that! You actually did it! I must say I'm very impressed, Samantha.

Samantha Cox: Great! Glad to know that.

you: Can you do anything else for me? I'm sure I've paid hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in various fees over the past 20 years or so. Any chance you could squeeze a little more out for me?

Samantha Cox: I can only check for the fees which have been charged in last 12 months, and I am glad to inform you that we are able to refund another fee of & $12.00. Shall I go ahead and process the request?

you: Twelve more dollars? Now we can get that pool we've been wanting! Please do go ahead and process that request! By all means!

Samantha Cox: Please allow me some time while I process your request.

Samantha Cox: Mark, refund request has been processed. Please check refund of $12.00

you: Sweet Granny's fruitcake! It's there! You did it!

Samantha Cox: I am with you.

you: Wow…just like The Force?

Samantha Cox: Sure.

Samantha Cox: Have I answered all your questions? I hope I was of some help.

you: I have to tell you, Samantha, that you've done more for me in the past 20 minutes than anyone else at Bank of America has done for me in the past 20 YEARS.

Samantha Cox: Thank you Mark.

you: No, thank YOU, Samantha.

Samantha Cox: You are welcome. Take care and have a great day! We know you have many choices for your banking needs and thank you for choosing  Bank Of America.

you: I'll miss you, Samantha.  You've been like my own personal Barbara Eden.  I'm going out back to start digging that pool, now.

* * * END TRANSMISSION * * *

"Welcome aboard!  Don't believe a word of those nasty rumors about me.  What's that?  You haven't heard any rumors?  Hey, that's one great-lookin' tie you've got there!"

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

A Fistful of Springtime

Okay, so the posts are becoming less and less frequent.  Things here at the ranch are still very busy.  Too much going on.  And if you're thinkin' why even bother with a blog if you're so whoop-dee-doo busy, genius?  Well, trust me, I don't invest a lot of time in these posts.  Really.  It's literally just me purging whatever debris happens to be cluttering my mind at the moment.  Sort of the literary equivalent of flinging poo.  Hmmm...another monkey reference.  Unintentional, too.  That little guy up there is quite influential, it seems.  Must be usin' his psychokinetic monkey mind powers on me, Ethel!

So anyhow, I got me an agent last week.  Which, really, was the whole purpose of this website.  Agents are supposed to save you time and effort, right?  So, on advice from a friend out in highfalutin' Hollywood, I'm looking to ultimately have four or five of 'em.  More lines, more fish, yes?  And if the intel's comin' outta Hollywood, it MUST be accurate, right?  'Cause they won't let you near that place unless you've got some serious co-neck-shawns.  I read it on the Internet.

On a completely unrelated note, I would now like to describe to you what seems to have become a yearly ritual.  Happens every spring.  And I always forget about it by the time the next spring rolls around.  First, let's set the scene:

There's a window almost directly behind me in my office.  On the other side of that window is a bush (that's really all you need to know for this story).  Invariably, usually around March-ish, I'll be sitting at my desk, hard at work - or in a YouTube trance - when out of the blue I'll hear nature's joyful heralding of spring:  A little birdie, perched in the aforementioned bush, singing his little heart out:

Twee-EET!  Chirdle-dee!  Chirdle-dee!  Chirdle-dee!

 I'll smile, thinking, "Yay!  Spring is here at last!  What a wonderful sound!"  Five minutes later, the little guy is still there:

Twee-EET!  Chirdle-dee!  Chirdle-dee!  Chirdle-dee!

I'll shake my head, thinking, "Jeez, that's loud...it's like he's perched right on my friggin' shoulder."  Five minutes later - still there:

Twee-EET!  Chirdle-dee!  Chirdle-dee!  Chirdle-dee!

I'll give a firm series of raps on the window, encouraging the little stinker to find another perch from which to sing, because, gosh darn it, I've got work to do, and frankly, he's on my last nerve.  But he is unperturbed.  And, five minutes later, he hasn't budged.

Twee-EET!  Chirdle-dee!  Chirdle-dee!  Chirdle-dee!

Now I'm curled into the fetal position under my desk, rocking back and forth and humming Jesus Loves Me.  And still it continues:

Twee-EET!  Chirdle-dee!  Chirdle-dee!  Chirdle-dee!

Now I'll jump up, shrieking, "FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, STOP BORING HOLES IN MY BRAIN WITH YOUR CEASELESS DEATH-TRILL, YOU SOULLESS HARPY!"

At this point, I'd sell my grandmother for a BB gun.  However, not having a grandmother handy, nor any potential buyers, I must get up and go outside to confront the winged terror.  And, of course, he's gone by the time I get there.


Happy spring!

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Greetings from the Overlook Hotel

(Yeah, I know it's been a week since my last post.  What can I say?  Bidness is good.)

Got a private audition request yesterday from one of the outfits I'm signed up with.  Most of the time, blanket requests are sent out for auditions.  But sometimes you have clients who've taken the time to peruse the roster, listen to some demos, and hand-pick their auditioners.  Either that, or the private request is a referral from an existing client.  Obviously, it's a good idea to respond to these private requests, since the odds of landing the job are already in your favor.

The "Happy Hands Club" just didn't seem to be working out.

At any rate, I got this private request from some artsy European filmmaker who was putting together a theater bumper that called for a "deep, heroic" voice.  He'd sent a rough cut of the bumper along with a scratch track he'd recorded himself.  He admitted that his voice "isn't stellar," but still, it's usually helpful when the client puts in a reference like that.  Usually.  Helpful.  So I download the rough cut and watch it...

...and it's creepy as hell.

Which would be a good thing if it were a trailer for a horror film.  Or anything with Mickey Rourke in it.  But it was supposed to be a humorous bumper about the folks who run the projectors at the theater.  I got totally weirded out.  It wasn't so much the visuals--though they were a bit strange, showing a man in a lab coat walking down a corridor but never showing his face--no, it was the audio that made my right eyebrow shoot upward.  It didn't sound like your typical scratch track; i.e., a regular dude with a crappy mic attempting to do the deep, movie-trailer-voice thing.  Nope.  Didn't sound like that.  It sounded like...um...

Remember the little kid from The Shining?  When he would crook his finger and make it talk?  Yeah, that's what it sounded like.

So, audition not sent.  Invitation deleted.  Nightmares in full swing.

'Nuff said.

"Now, before I flip this switch -- you've already paid the receptionist, yes?"

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Old Man Winter is a Jackhole

Ha!  You thought I used a dirty word there for a second, didn'tcha?  I love that word - "jackhole."  A combination of two expletives with the offensive conjoining word omitted.  Still as satisfying as real swearing, yet perfectly benign.  Try it out next time you run into a jackhole.

So, yeah, I hate when Texas weather does the extreme yo-yo thing.  Twenty degrees one day and 80 the next.  It's hell on my left ear.  Don't know what the origin of this problem is, but I've had it for years.  It got so bad a while back that I wound up going to a specialist and getting a CT scan.  All told, I dropped about three grand for this guy to tell me he couldn't find anything wrong with me.  I DID get some Hydrocodone out of the deal, however, so there's that.  Happy Mellow Floaty Time.  Yay!  It's fun to sit quietly and stare at the TV for about an hour.  When it's not actually on.

But enough about my constant, maddening ear pain.

I did a spot for a tire company today (what's that?  You want to hear more about the ear pain?).  Yeah, it's hard to get excited about tires.  So I did what I always do when insincere enthusiasm is called for - I slammed a stiff cup o' joe, fired up the mic, and away I went.  I made tires sound freakin' amazing, I tells ya!  Now EVERYONE will want new tires!  EVERYONE!  Even folks who don't happen to own vehicles!  'Cause they're great for swings, too, ya know.  Also Ho Chi Minh sandals.

The other day, I did a full-production commercial for a Scottish helicopter pilot.  Yes, he lives in Scotland and he flies a helicopter.  I suppose he's looking for tourists who want a bird's-eye view of all those castles and glens and such.  I imagine the poor guy probably spends a lot of time hovering over Loch Ness while some American geek with a videocamera hangs out the door, trying to score some footage of Nessie:

"But lad, wouldn't ya like ta see a castle or somethin'?"

"Dude, stop talkin' and just hold 'er steady."

"Stupid American Jackhole..."

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

Ixnay on the Ayzee-Jay

So yesterday, I had to attempt a Jay-Z impersonation for AMEX.  They also wanted me to do Austin Powers and Wolverine for the same spot, but neither of those posed a problem for me.  I'm sad to report that I just couldn't pull off the Jay-Z thing.  He's in that weird range I have trouble stretching into.  I call it "The Vacuum".  Not because it sucks that I can't do those voices (even though it does), but in the scientific sense -- a space that is devoid of matter.  In this case, that matter is my vocal range.

This has nothing to do with the fact that Jay-Z is an African-American, BTW.  I can impersonate many African-American voices quite convincingly.  One guy, Tom LaBaff, hired me to do an entire monologue as Morgan Freeman.  He was ecstatic with what I sent him.  Later on, he was very surprised to learn that I was actually a white guy.  I love it when I can pull off stuff like that.  I've even been hired for a British spot because the client was looking for "an authentic British voice."  Ha!  I've never even been to Europe.  I just had to high-five myself that day.  My wife walked by and thought I was trying to kill a mosquito.

In other news, I snagged a gig doing "film noir" type voiceovers for an e-learning company this weekend.  Should be a fun project.  I love that kind of stuff.  Second only to paranormal/mystery stuff.  Which reminds me, I love those old mystery radio programs from way back when.  There used to be a website that had a lot of them in mp3 format, and you could listen to 'em for free.  Let me see if it's still around...

Yep!  Here it is.  The very one I used to visit:  http://www.radiolovers.com/pages/mysteries.html

Here's another one that looks pretty good:  http://www.oldtimeradiofans.com/cat_template.php?category=Mystery

I'll have to check that one out later today.  But now I have to refill my coffee mug and get some work done.  Peace out, yo.

She's just been informed that she'll have to carry that microphone over to Studio B.
In...ter...net...?

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

Throw Another Blog on the Fire

The first time I heard the word "blog" was way back in 2001, while chatting with Kriss Stephens of MTV's "FEAR" (remember that show?  Neither do I).  It sounded to me like some sort of medieval weapon:  "Make way, knave, lest I smite thee with my blog!"

So I've gone thirteen years without a blog and haven't noticed any adverse effects.  Do I really need one now, on this website?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I suppose it depends upon whom you ask.  God, I've got to overcome my compulsion to avoid writing colloquially and just do it.  But I have an irrational fear of someone thinking I don't know how to write.  Or worse, that I'm an idiot.  Knowing is one thing, but if I can prevent anyone from thinking it...

Anyhow, for those who want to stay current on the latest goings-on with me and my voice work, I guess a blog would be handy.  Outside of that, there may actually be some people out there who would find it to be a source of amusement.  I guess we'll see!  For now, though, I'm all out of things to write about.  I blame the monkey.

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