Thursday, December 08, 2005

In Your Ear

Word from Wales: Brenda Dayne, doyenne of "Cast On: A Podcast for Knitters," tells me that my piece will be included in the next episode, this weekend.

I'm proud to be part of what she's doing, because the first episodes have been good, solid work. Marilyn is also writing for her, so I'm in heady company.

By the way, Brenda's "half episode," number 1.5, is a simple, poetic description of a rare snow day in her valley* in Wales. It's as beautiful a recorded piece as I've ever heard, on par with any NPR commentary, and it's matched perfectly with Alison Crowe's gentle, soulful take on "In the Bleak Midwinter." Give yourself a holiday present and check it out.

You don't have to have an iPod, or even an mp3 player, to tune in. If you visit the Web site and click on the "Listen to..." links for each episode, most Internet browsers will download the file and start playing it right over your computer.

Bring In Da Noise

I recorded my essay at home, on my Mac, using a little Logitech microphone I bought at the Apple store on Michigan Avenue even though the salespeople didn't really seem to want to sell it to me. I love Macs, but I hate the sales staff at that store. If you're not buying an iPod or a complete G5 set-up, or don't look sufficiently cool (i.e., you have washed your hair that week) they simply don't want to speak to you.

I once needed a new copy of Photoshop - a program that runs many hundreds of dollars - but had a question about the version on the shelf. Before I could get anybody's attention I had to stand in the middle of the sales floor and shout "Attention: I'm looking to spend a whole lot of money right now!"

But I got my microphone, and I plugged it into my beloved little iMac and prepared myself to emote, and elocute, and enunciate. My desk faces a window wall that looks out on Lake Michigan. Light snow was falling, and lights in the neighboring apartment buildings were beginning to glow. All was hushed. Perfect.

I took a breath, and clicked "record."

"It is a truth," I said. And then one of my neighbors, whose car horn plays "La Cucaracha," decided to announce his arrival at home in song. Four times.



"It is a truth universally-"

And the Irving Park bus ran into a parked car directly in front of my building. Screeeeeeee! Wham! Crunch! Yelling. The evening commute honked its collective displeasure for ten minutes.



"It is-"

Fire alarm in the building next door. Four engines (I counted), a ladder truck, an ambulance, and two police cars with sirens wailing. Twenty minutes.

Darkness had fallen.

Erase. Click.


American Airlines Flight 345 from Frostbite Falls International passed by on its way to O'Hare. I waved to the pilot, who waved back.

Erase. Click.

On this attempt, I made it to the last 20 seconds of the piece and then my phone, which I had put into "silent" mode, started playing music at full volume to announce a new voice message. (Apparently the design geniuses at Samsung assume that when you tell the phone to be silent, you don't mean completely silent.)

Erase erase erase erase.

I decided that the next take would be the final take, even if the apartment suffered an invasion of angry chickens or the people upstairs decided to throw a rhumba party or the gigantic chow down the hall finally decided to answer my prayers and noisily devour the guy who owns him.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged..."

I read through the entire piece in one shot with style, with grace, with magnificent diction and flawless timing. The city held its collective breath, waiting until the final full stop.

And then I realized I'd forgotten to click "record."

*Does everybody in Wales live in a valley? All the people I ever recall hearing about who live in Wales live in valleys, usually green ones. There are plenty of them, I'm sure, but the presence of so many valleys suggests a proximity to hills. Are the hilltops totally inhospitable? Or merely unfashionable?


Unknown said...

Clearly you must be vying for the "Most Entertaining Knit Blog" award, or minimally trying to wrap up your chances for the "Best New Knit Blog" award.

Just think, if you had a live-in lover, you would have had to deal with bathroom flushes and other objectionable background noise.

goblinbox said...

Damn but those fluffy sheeps are cute.

Anonymous said...

The hills in Wales tend to be very steep and have more of a peak than a top. And the weather can be somewhat unpleasant, so any shelter is welcome.

(The entire west coast of Britain specialises in a very fine rain that never really falls but hangs around in the air for weeks, and soaks one to the skin in seconds. In Scotland it is called Scotch Mist, in Cornwall Cornish Fog, and it probably also has a Welsh name that I don't know. Woolly jumpers are the best defence, since the prevailing gales make umbrellas useless, even if the stuff were obeying the laws of gravity).

Anonymous said...

Further to Vivienne's comments, the sheep live in the hills. Lots of sheep.

Beth said...

Another further to vivienne's comments: What ever the Welsh name is, it's probably 20 letters long, and has one vowel.

Unknown said...

Cat walking on loom, knocking stuff off of the castle.

I did eight takes before I got it right. And then Brenda told me that I need to use certain freebie software because my recording done with QuickTime was too low.

My piece is scheduled for January sometime. I can't wait to hear yours.

anje said...

you ...

are a funny man!

And I've been anxiously awaiting your appearance on "Cast-on" since you announced it's debut. Good stuff, that.

Anonmous said...

Frank previewed the piece for me after he recorded it (he was done fuming over the cell phone, which I have OFFERED TO FIX (not-so-sublte-hint)) and its quite funny, I laughed out loud several times. The first recording is always the toughest, but this one will be hard to beat. Enjoy!

birdfarm said...

love this post, body and postscript. "Are the hilltops totally inhospitable? or merely unfashionable?" Vintage Franklin.


Cheryl:) said...

Were Dudley and the lovely Nell aboard??

City Wiccan said...

I feel your pain. I often try to make recordings for my work as a composer. There is always some horrible distracation in every take I do. Usually my cat trying to steal the attention!

Margot said...

Used to be in radio - the same sort of stuff happens in professional studios too - especially forgetting to hit record. Looking forward to hearing your recording.

Anonymous said...

If I hear chickens when I listen to this, I will bust a corset string.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Wales is all valleys, except where it is hills or mountains. I don't think they have any plains. But they do have sheep and sheep and sheep. And some rivers. I climbed partway up one of the "hills", up which the lovely parks department people had built a lovely shallow stone stairway - not those calf-breaking 15" steps like in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, but nice sedate little steps. But still, after a few hundred of them, I was whacked and had to give it up. They do prevent erosion very effectively.

Anonymous said...

The people in the staff room here now officially know I 'm barking (mad) I got to the end of you piece and moved from little giggles to outright guffaws- Sorry to laugh at someone else's misfortune, but it was just the sort of thing I would do too! Priceless.

dpaste said...

I want to go shopping with you.

Delightful post.

Anonymous said...

The sheep live on the hills. Mostly people don't live on the hills (if at all significant) in the Uk, but nestle in the valleys. Much snugger when the wind blows, but as Vivienne suggests, no protection frojm that wetting mizzle.

Yvonne said...

I agree with Joe!! I love your blog Franklin. You always bring a smile to my face. This has been a bit of a tough week for me and I needed that smile today. Thank you.

Unknown said...

I listened to Franklin's recording today. It's now up on Cast-On.

All I can or will say is you must, must, must listen. It's perfectly recorded, and exactly as funny as you'd expect it to be.

He's so evil, my boy FH. I do love him so.

livnletlrn said...

An Aran for Dubya...bwahahahaha! Oh, such fun to hear you on Cast On, after having enjoyed your blog for months. Peace.

Anonymous said...

"Chickens coming in the windows...chickens coming through the doors...." - from Sesame Street's The Room is Full of Chickens.

Loved the piece on Cast On. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Franklin- I listened to you on Brenda's pod cast Saturday and enjoyed your piece. Thank you for leading me to Cast On. I enjoy Brenda's voice, what she has to say, and her choice of music. And-she makes excellent choices when it comes to guests!

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