Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Greetings from Switzerland!

I just wanted to let anyone who doesn`t already know that I have a little story narration (Robowassailing) and a Christmas song (a super-kitschy version of Silent Night) on StarShipSofa's Christmas Show. It aired on 24 December. I hope you aren't yet tired of Christmas stories and songs. If not, head over to http://www.starshipsofa.com and check out my offerings for Christmas Cheer!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I'm having a Charlie Brown kind of day. Maybe it's been exacerbated by the repeated listenings to A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, but I got two bits of not-happy news in the last two days. It's not exactly bad news but, you know, just not good. Am I taking it too personally? I'll let you be the judge:

1) I blogged last week about the story I narrated coming out on PodCastle. Yesterday I went to Escape Artist's (they produce the podcast) forums online and read the responses to the story. People there say what they want and are not inhibited because I'm not a presence there, like they might be at StarShipSofa. They didn't like my narration. At all. They also didn't much like the story, but that's beside the point. They thought I sounded bored, or simply not emotionally involved. Maybe I wasn't, although I did like the story. One poster thought my accents were inconsistent, and there I'd have to concede the point. I'm not great with accents. I shouldn't try to do them, but in this narration I did - a light southern accent and a pseudo-Asian one. Bad.

2) The other not-happy news is that I didn't make the short list for the First Annual Sofanaught Awards. I can be a bit blasé about this one, because the folks that did make the short list deserve to be on there. But I wanted to be. More than I think I let myself believe.

Now I'm thinking - "Do I suck as a narrator?" I really enjoy doing it and have no delusions that I'm a great one, I can recognize that I need to improve. But you know, it's hard to hear the criticism - expressed outright or not.

That is all.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Report: Silly Christmas Songs

It's kinda old news now, but the performance of the silly Christmas songs went off quite well. Mrs. Hooligan's Christmas Cake and Tom Lehrer's A Christmas Carol were big hits, garnering laughter in all the right places. Only mumbled a few times and had a lot of fun hamming it up! W00t! For your entertainment:

Checked out the space where I'll give a song recital next year. It's my neighbor's office. It's spacious with a high ceiling, mostly concrete and brick walls, so the acoustics aren't too bad. A violin professor who lives in the building on the street (my neighbors's building is back behind the main one) asked if he could use the space for his student's recitals and put a piano in there. Roger asked if he could use the piano for other concerts as well. The piano is just an upright (too bad it's not a baby grand or something more concert-esque), but I think it will be adequate, but then I know nothing about what makes a good piano. As far as I'm concerned if it works and makes a decent sound, then that's a good piano. The finer points are (as yet) lost on me (maybe I could learn...). Anyway, I think it would be nice place to have a little recital.

I had the "ladies" over for Caroling last Friday. I had to play the piano. Ugh. I'm not a pianist - there's some screw loose which makes me play wrong notes in different places on every repeat, it doesn't matter if I practice or not. But this was a very informal thing. There were about 7 of us and we just went through our favorite ones. Ursula brought her Reader's Digest Christmas Carols book, which had arrangements that I could actually play for the most part. Afterwards we drank Glühwein and Eggnog and munched on the things the guests had brought along. Nom!

I baked my first German Stollen! Ursula came over early for the Caroling and walked me through it. We'll see if it turned out OK in a couple of weeks. It's supposed to sit in a cool place for about 2 weeks to develop the flavors.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Your cup runneth over

Yes, yesterday two different narrations I've done came out on two different podcasts:

PodCastle #36: "Ancestor Money" by Maureen McHugh. This is an interesting look at what the afterlife might be like.

StarShipSofa #54: "View from a Height" by Joan D. Vinge. Also on that show is poetry by fellow Wisconsinite Mark Rich, Flash Fiction by my buddy Matthew Sanborn Smith, and a fantastic piece of genre history by our resident historian Amy H. Sturgis.

We are in the 2nd week of nominations for the Sofanaughts Awards at StarShipSofa. Please go and nominate your favorite narrator (me!), fave flash fiction or main fiction piece, and your fave poetry and fact contributor in the first 52 episodes of Aural Delights. You can go to the online poll or go to the forums (register) and post your favorites under one of the threads under "Sofanaughts". In each of the categories, the five entries with the most nominations will be short-listed for the run-off poll at a later date.

Go on! What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Schlocky Christmas Song for the Sofa

So, yesterday I had fun geeking out recording a song for StarShipSofa's Christmas special. I thought I would just record one of the silly songs I'm doing with Anne tomorrow, but Tony, the old softie, actually requested Silent Night. Now this is actually a really hard song to sing well. I thought it might be kind of excruciating if I just sang it all by myself, because he asked me if I could get it to him sooner or later, so I looked in my collections of Christmas Carols and found an easy accompaniment, one that I could actually play without any mistakes. I chose the cheesy vibraphone sound on my electric Pai-anna and used the record function on it as well. Yah-ta! I did it! Then because I realized I didn't have the proper cables to attach the piano to my computer I just let the piano play the accompaniment and recorded it using Audacity. It gives it a nice "live music" feel, but makes for a pretty crappy recording. Oh well. Then I recorded myself singing the melody in English and then German. And then I worked out a harmony and proceeded to record myself singing the 2nd voice. Then Audacity crashed. And I lost everything I'd done because I was stupid enough not to save the whole time. But recording it all the 2nd time went quite quickly and Voila! I have an all-Diane version of Silent Night, which isn't half bad. It's amazing how well I sing with myself. I think I might upload it to My MySpace Space, if you'd like to hear it now. Otherwise, do Tony the favor and on Dec. 24th or after download his Christmas Special. I've also narrated a Christmas story for that show, so it'll be worth the wait!


Friday, December 05, 2008

Silly Christmas Songs

Next week I'll be singing (some) silly Christmas songs at the Annual General Meeting of the International Women's Association of Hannover. Anne Pehrisch, an American and local pianist/piano teacher, will be accompanying me. It was her idea to do fun Christmas Songs, rather than the tired, old, staid Christmas songs. I was all for it. Actually, it will be a mix of things, and the program isn't long. Here's the run-down:

*Music for a While, Henry Purcell (the one serious song)
*A Christmas Carol, Tom Lehrer (go here for a great recording of Lehrer doing this one)
*Mrs Hooligan's Christmas Cake, trad. Irish
*The Gloucester Wassail, trad. English carol - but a drinking song!

If we get the chance we'll do an encore of Aaron Copland's Simple Gifts. Which is just a gorgeous song.

I'm looking forward to it, and I hope that it'll perhaps garner me a few more, more lucrative gigs.

Working with Anne has been a joy and we are planning to do a song recital in the Spring. I'm excited, and a little nervous. I haven't done a recital per se since my exit recital in Bremen in 1996! But they don't make you much money. It'll be great because there are so many great songs, that you never get to do after you graduate from conservatory!