Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Blue Screen of Death - Are Your Assets Covered

Well, it happened. Just like you tell yourself it'll happen...the dreaded Blue Screen of Death! It was a sinking feeling in the belly. A wallop! How could this have happened? I've been so careful. Could everything on that computer be lost? And how thorough has the backup routine been?

Then comes denial as to when the last back-up of the 'essential' files were actually done? Geez, it's been more than a year for some. We kept intending to feed that 32 gig USB gizmo in the back of the machine with updates.

Another phase is acceptance. OK, we're screwed, but by how much? Let's take stock. Well, remember we started with Windows 7 outta the box. Then we upgraded to windows 8.1 running an i7 core with 64 bits and a terabyte of hard drive. Plus, an optical sound card installed to record digitally. This baby was fairly up-to-speed even by today's standards...and lightning fast. But get this - as of December 2020, Microsoft stopped making upgrade service packs for Windows 7 machines. And I also made the mistake of not testing the 'boot-up' software. Truth is, who ever really does. Well...

With the aid of a couple of seasoned techies, we've come up with a possible scenario as to how the Blue Screen may have occurred. As it seems to be a trending practice in today's business acumen, free-rides of any sort, are quickly ending. Case in point, my popular web hoster is no longer supplying free email service. That's like buyin' a hot dog and being charged extra for the bun. "Well, did you expect it to be free forever" was the rebut I got from 3 different rep's. Hummm, that don't sound rehearsed! And they arbitrarily migrated all my emails to Outlook. 

They supplied a link to download a dot-exe assistant. So, I downloaded it and tried installing it. Never saw it appear and then got busy with something else. However, the next day when the machine was turned on, instead of the usual password box, I had the: The Blue Screen of Death. Coincidence; to the install of the assistant...who can tell? But, if anyone out there is thinking about installing migrating assistants or any dot exec's on older machines, they might want to consult your local techy. Or, at the very least, make sure you're in possession of the boot up software.

We tried almost all the remedies and iterations to resurrect the machine. None did the trick. Some came so close that it might just be a matter of finding the correct boot disk sequence. Now - I was startin' to feel the grief. 

Those techy's were invaluable. I was advised to buy a 'Docking Station' for the hard-drive to be read. We were at that stage of acknowledgment. IF the Hard-Drive wasn't corrupted, the station would allow the data to transfer to another machine or disk. 

It W-O-R-K-E-D!

Every bit and zero was salvageable. Less and less loyalty was being placed with the older machine and more and more thoughts were heading towards a Brandy New Machine. I shoulda had a 'docking station' all along and highly recommend them - Twenty dollars at Amazon.

Speaking of Amazon I found a similar machine that was a 10th Generation Intel Core i7 processor with Super-Speed USB ports. And one that's a type 'C'  USB 3.1 port, AKA Thunderbolt 3  'cause they can transfer big-time gig rates! USB - C type explained

Well, at least if I had to make a major purchase for a somewhat lateral move on a comparable machine (another i7), it's a step up to the 90's with some New & Improved innards. Maybe it's me, but there's little in the way of 'creative designing' about newer machines. By all appearances, it seems the artistic powers have opted for a lot 'less' is more dictum when they designed the towers.

Perhaps, they have it on good authority that these machines sink into oblivion once purchased. Then again, not only do the new desktops seem to be altogether smaller in size, much lighter and noiseless to sit unobtrusively amongst the Rolodex and answer machine, could the manufacturers be signaling a return to having desk-tops actually sit on top of the desk! It certainly would make operations easier. Damn, no bending and it would definitely enable user-friendly usage of the DVD feed and retrieval. It'll also make the operation of all four frontal USB slots much more user-friendly as well. They are way too snug and with the never ending fight over 'which side of a USB is the right side', they would be made much easier to navigate if the machine weren't below. Perhaps it'll become an occupational thing to have the machine intrude on top of the desk after all. BTW, the USB 3.1 does not have a right or wrong side...it's without prejudice. Both sides enable engagement. 

Up..Up...and A-W-A-Y at warp speed, Oh-Chef-of-the-Future ~ 

  

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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Music 'Producer Tags'...an Unexplored Voice-Over Frontier

Had the occasion to get involved with voicing a music 'Producer Tag'. Generally speaking producer tags (sometimes called drops) are prerecorded vocal snippets. They often feature all or part of the producers name or signature at the beginning of most of their instrumentals. These tags also serve as artist provenance and act as an important function to an essential, but often overlooked, contributor to the finished song.

 
How it plays into the voice-over game is obvious. Adding a professional voice to add color, nuance and effective engagements could be the difference between a successful tag and artist. With a bit of effortless Googling you'll come up with more than a few contenders...including Fiverr. What makes it worth the trip for voice actors is the challenge to interpret the artists intent and how to make the pairing work. Not-to-mention, it's kinda cool.

 From a VoiceOver standpoint of untapped resources or ones that could at least provide a little creative stretching, it shouldn't be overlooked. Dropping tags at the start of a song has become an inescapable-staple in music. 

Having its roots anchored in the 90's mix-tape culture, when DJs would do name shout-outs over their tracks, tags have become a way to build brand equity in an industry where producers only got credit in album liner notes. These days - liner notes are harder to find than Trump's taxes. Fluctuating CD and digital music sales have many producers developing signature drops to make their presence known. Which in turn has lent credence to tags as an actual component of songwriting.

 I was introduced to producer tags quite by accident as part of a favor for a client's daughter. Always willing to help out the cause as it were, I dived into the genre with both feet, albeit a little wobbly. You see, I was working for grandpa. and supposed to sound like it too. Amos McCoy that is. Walter Brennan, to anyone not born in another millennia. The chief grandpa and producer at grandpa. wanted a specific sound for a short line to be read as an old codger. Something tells me her dad had something to do with Walter. The line was " Well, back in my day" . They did some tweaking here & there plus adding a bit of echo and Viola. You can find grandpa. at Instagram and can check out her new single Distrokid with links to music previews at: Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes and Amazon.

Signature tags are artistic hooks. The reasoning for younger producers wanting to use a tagline may evolve as their career scales to a certain level of success. Some contend that as technology advances at lightning speeds it's lowered  the barrier for entry that producers often use to make themselves stand out...especially in an industry where over-saturation can lead to musical stagnation. Perhaps it's because it’s a part of the culture now, where sometimes the producer is bigger than the artist and the producer tag helps the artist be heard.

 
Click to Play Producer Tag

Love them or hate them, tags have become so woven into the music scene that it’s pushed producers into the spotlight. Some, even get credited as featured artists on tracks. VoiceOver people can be an integral part of the producer tag process. One more arena to belly up to the microphone and show 'em what you got. 'Course, if the music ain't happenin', tag or no tag ain't gonna matter.

 

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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Lebanon's New Year Resolutons in all Shapes and Forms

The year started off with a steady flow of Lebanon related assignments and projects. It seems to be maintaining that pace for February.

From a national awareness campaign to overcome the residual impact of Lebanon's catastrophic blast in the port of Beirut in August of 2020 to a promotion for Healthy Heart Care, Diabetes Control & Prevention and a National Cyber Security roll-out drive. It's all a collaboration of Lebanon's Advertising Association industry to create rallying calls to focus attention on where they're needed most. The blast, nearly six months old, left most of the country devastated from the initial explosion or as collateral economic fallout.

It should be noted that on (Wiki) August 4th, 2020, a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the port of the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, exploded, causing at least 204 deaths, 7,500 injuries, and $15 billion in property damage, and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless. A cargo of 2,750 tonnes of the substance (equivalent to around 1.1 kilotons of TNT) had been stored in a warehouse without proper safety measures for the previous six years. The explosion was preceded by a fire in the same warehouse, but as of January 2021, the exact cause of the detonation is still under investigation.


The blast was felt in Turkey, Syria, Israel, Palestine and parts of Europe, and was heard in Cyprus, more than 240 km (150 mi) away. It was detected by the United States Geological Survey as a seismic event of magnitude 3.3, and is considered one of the most powerful artificial non-nuclear explosions in history.


Here's a frame from the video to help promote awareness of the hundreds of shipping containers laying idle in the port of Beirut. The Lebanese people wanted to show they could defy their fate and transform that area into a giant structure made out of those containers. Titled: “Beirut The Star Of Hope” and adorned with specialty lights, artistic designs, illustrations and messages of hope featuring several Lebanese artists.

Click to Play Video

 



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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

TC & Co 's Year End Round-Up for 2020

 

Wow! What a change form last year at this time..."It's been quite a year for voice-over & production. There was a good amount of rekindling ...it proved to be an excellent timing thing ...The Tv & radio spots came in as well from next door and as far away as Jordan ...with plenty of opportunity to create new characters with a bit of dusting off of the Pooh Bear as well".  

This year, with its constant dousing of Bizarro-World reality, turned into a complete opposite of last years land-of-plenty. With a big ZiP for this years plenty; workloads, opportunities and ways of trying to make ends meet were for the record books! Due ostensibly to COVID-19 and any real-world plan for treating, tracing or dealing with the economic impact of what the virus has levied. 

We're hoping the Biden team will tie up some loose ends with the admin of the vaccination process. Do the work on the details. Especially, if citizens need to get a 2nd and possibly 3rd booster shot to tame the spread. After all, it's getting a bit old working like we did this year for what amounts to be pro bono rates. Regardless, we tried keeping the creative juices flowing during the year. It helped with the centering too. Years end started to look promising with a few nibbles. Things felt like they could be headed towards some sort of normalcy, albeit adding the New part.

Here's a look back on the year's highlights -


And Tommy Boy was on the Super Bowl back in February...at least in some part of the country.  Geez, does that feel like a long time ago. Will there even be a Super-Bowl this season? Back to the New Normal...we were part of the mix with Fantastic Plastic's (Ad Age) Championship season roll-out of the 'Winnie-the-Pooh' character for their auto dealership Damson's Auto. The TV spots appeared throughout the south east. They did a second batch of the character doing tags. 

( Click to Play Tv Spot )

No matter where you stand on Bernie Sanders, one thing's for sure, he's a character. And as of Feb. 27th, the Democratic front-runner. Being a little quirky makes him a fun character to have fun with. Particularly, since this BLOG time slot was dedicated to another project.

What's that, does Bernie have a signature tag line per se? Well, just like the guy who said; 'The rents too damn high', Bernie's could be: "I'm sick & tired". 

Bernie had a cardiac episode back in early October. He's been asked about it. And apparently it was all due to a few disagreeable tacos...

Check out his newest campaign video if TC & Co were his creative agency (Click to Play Parody Video

Just this last year alone was a whirl-wind of craziness. From nuking hurricanes with Sharpies to Miracle Cures for the COVID-19 Virus that began with Lysol. It had gotten to a long overdue point that Dr. Emmett Brown had to be summoned-up to finally get a hold on the situation... as he wonders if Jerry Lewis wouldn't have been such a bad idea after all. Great Scott for Operation Warp-Speed (Click to play video)


Enter Purfresh, the only company in the world that combines the ability to generate ozone for perishables during their ocean voyage with real-time satellite and GSM monitoring of the internal container environment. We were auditioned to do an English accent voice-over to lend a more sophisticated edge to the copy. Check out the various differences with American Vs. English accents. (Click to Play Video)


The Haunt Season started this year with an excited email from the client in early September, about a month or so later than our usual start.
They were cautiously elated to hear that their Louisiana governor had moved them into a Phase (III) order of Coronavirus restrictions for opening this season. A season they didn't think would happen. After all, these folks have several theme parks that are happening during the Halloween season and they all needed to have their advertising updated.  (Click to Play Video)



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Monday, November 30, 2020

Screen Actors Guild selects their Nominating Committee Team

 
The 27th Annual SAG Awards Motion Picture Nominating Committee has been selected to nominate this years fine crop of award contenders. Also, please take note of the new award date for this years award presentations - March 14, 2021. They're usually held in mid or late January on the TNT & TBS Networks.
 
They'll be tons of movies to watch and vote on! Could be that there's also some sort of cachet to being a nominating committee member. Or at least that's what my Hollywood pal - Stefan Nadelman expressed. Truth be told, SAG members only get one shot (in an 8 yr. span) at being a Nominating Committee member and then it's on to another deserving member.

For some years now, I've been a selected SAG member voting for SAG nominated films. Always taking that responsibility seriously...and voted each and every year. In order to judge outstanding motion picture performances of the year, the studios and networks provide SAG Nominating Committee Members with the latest viewing options much sooner. Screeners as they are known, are movie and network series links to the latest released films and episodic series for preview. Committee Members are asked to select nominees for Outstanding performances in categories ranging from Actor in a leading role to Stunt ensemble.

And for all the movies that are to be judged, the networks supply premiere film show times via digital streaming on the likes of: Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc. It used to be wait for the DVD's to go thru our mail slots. So, for its Committee Members, it's Movie Night every night.

Voting for the Screen Actors Guild Awards® is done in two stages. The first, nominations balloting;
is voted on by two nominating committees – one for Motion Pictures and one for Television.
These nominating committees are newly selected each year from active SAG-AFTRA
members who have not served previously in the past 8 years.
 
This is a different year. And there is a difference sans an audience of how a movie is perceived. I've watched my share and then some of mainstream and avant-garde movies to recognize why an acting presence is captivating...even if sometimes we don't notice first time round. 
 
Watched quite a few movies this year. There have been a few that are needy. By and large though, most did a good job vying for ears & eyeballs. And then there are the obvious award contenders. This could be the year for CHESS with the popularity of the series: The Queen's Gambit and a new movie up for nomination called: Critical Thinking with John Leguizamo. Based on a true story to contain all the elements for consideration with a feel-good "we're gonna win one for the Gipper" screenplay. Everyone shines in their performances.
And then there are some Indy gems that are intriguing or quirky. So far, the one film standout in that category could be: The Assistant a Sundance favorite. And without giving too much away to spoiler it, the plot was about First One In...Last One to Leave and the events in between in a toxic work culture...especially for women. Julia Garner has got a nifty resting face as Sebastian would say. She sports a pensive Renaissance smile throughout much of the film and said: "it's a very quite film, but the subject is very loud".

And this months video sponsored by a random Rod Serling meme:







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Saturday, October 24, 2020

This Election - No One Owns Your Vote

It's been a month full of October surprises. Yet, for some reason, the 'powers that be' are still lookin for an emblematic one. The month started off with presidential Covid-interuptus, segueing into back-to-back rally's immediately afterward. Then there were Presidential & Vice Presidential debates. Where Mike Pence and his fly-on-the-head could prove to be his; Dan Quayle, Howard Dean and let's not forget the Mike Dukakis, moment. And where Donald Trump had his moment with "will the real Abe Lincoln please stand up" in true What's My Line style!

During all this I had received the call to participate in a Lincoln Project opportunity with old friend and movie title sequencer, documentarian, music composer and pretty cool dude: Stefan Nadelman, from “Terminal Bar” fame. He's been blazzin a distinctive trail ever since. Check 'em out at: Tourist Pictures

Also, Stefan can be found on the production staff of Showtime’s documentary film on the life of John Belushi this November 22nd. Stefan is their graphics guy and you can catch an eyeful of his work on the trailer at: “BELUSHI”.

This time he wanted me to join forces for something unique as a Trump eye-opener and lend Biden support. He figured with my voice specialties we could come up with that tone of urgency and historical concern. Ah huh. Well, we turned in a few things and then Trump got sick and the Biden team wanted to ease up on any negative marketing. Any submissions otherwise, was seen as a hindrance to the cause. It needed to be seen as an Arsenal of Democracy.

So, why not with a little reality/surreality comparison association. Yeah, that's the ticket...maybe. And why not with a surreal movie character some 40 years ago named: Greg Stillson from the movie  “The Dead Zone” .


Remember Greg Stillson…let’s at least have some fun while making a point. Hopefully, with an impact that’s right between the eyes with a reality check - that we don’t need any more time to figure out whether it’s life imitating art or the other way around.
We would just like to change the channel, please. Spoiler alert, we’ve already seen the ending.
 

OK, that takes care of the script. What about voice-over delivery and music to underscore all this and make it demonstrative…but not preachy. Wait-a-minute, why not preachy? Real preachy. And whom better than Walter Cronkite, America’s Most Trusted Voice in TV History to preach some truth. 

Walter's sound-a-like voice was put alongside a music bed of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me”. Gives the medium and message a little more impact. Maybe it’ll reach out to those suburban housewives Trump wants to carry in his pocket like so many nickles & dimes. Perhaps even gesturing a nod to the nomination and appointment over Amy Coney Bartlett, as Supreme Court Justice. Or to anyone who thinks their vote is owned & counted by none other than themselves...Electoral College notwithstanding. 



Check out the preliminary work-in-progress video. 60 seconds of slide graphic dissolves hoping to entertain while making a point with a bit of parody and a tad of tongue and cheekiness.

Click to view video.

 
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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Shocking Times demand Shocking Results this Halloween Season w/TC & Company

 


Tired of being quarantined at home? Ready to take out your frustrations on virus infected living dead? Come get some at The Mortuary...This is how the Mortuary is touting their latest event - Rift Wars.

And we're ready to blast away those words with 'The Creepy-Guy' voice once again even thought it didn't look too promising during these days of C-O-V-I-D.

It started this year with an excited email from the client in early September, about a month or so later than our usual start. They were cautiously elated to hear that the Louisiana governor has moved them into a Phase (III) order of Coronavirus restrictions for opening this season. A season they didn't think would happen. After all, these folks have several theme parks that are happening during the Halloween season and they all needed to have their advertising updated. Scout Island, Mystere Escape Rooms, the Spooktacular Theater and the Pharaoh's Fury are all part of their event venues.  
 
Half a dozen scripts and a lozenge or two later, the spots are finally getting aired on regional Tv & Radio. They called for the Creepy-Guy Voice and a burgeoning Drill Sgt. voice to promote and take part in the Zombie Slayer Strike Force event venue. Here's some of the text below along with links to the television and radio spots.   

With a new COVID plan, RESERVE YOUR TICKETS ONLINE NOW For your Ticket To Fight the Creatures of the Night!

An interactive, live combat shootout through the darkest bowels of The Mortuary! It’s a live action survival experience thrusting you into our un-dead battleground (with laser rifle in hand) clearing the infected where the un-dead thrive. Join the Army-of-Boom only at The Mortuary in NOLA.

Here are the links to the 15 second & 30 second versions of the Rift Wars and  Zombie Slayer Strike Force spots. Just click the red text to play videos.


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