Recently, I did my third speech for Toastmasters. My wife and I are members of Toastmasters 4 Writers in Burbank, California – District 52.
My second and third speech were connected because what I learned from giving the second speech would be applied to the third. The Second speech was about my family, especially my grandfather, James Shaw, who was from Ireland and came to America. There are many great stories I could tell about him and his life. When it came to telling the third speech I chose to focus on him as a Marathon runner, especially winning one in Belfast Ireland.
But as I began to do research for this speech, I was finding more questions than answers. On top of that there wasn’t a lot of recorded history about the 1909 race, and that the first Belfast City Marathon didn’t happen until 1982.
So this speech began as much about learning the truth about the race as it was about my grandfather winning it.
A big thank you goes out to John T. Glover who wrote the book HISTORY OF NORTHERN IRELAND MARATHON RUNNING for helping me locate the facts.
I have always liked the music MY FAIR LADY (I don’t like the ending, but that’s a different discussion), and the other day I began mouthing words to the son “I’ve grown accustomed to her face” and a thought struck me. So I came home and wrote my own version of the song.
Will all apologies to Lerner & Loewe, and apologies to your ears. Here is my bad singing of a my parody “I’ve grown accustomed to this mask.”
Been a while since I last posted, so here’s a brief run down of what I’ve ben up to.
I’ve continued to take Voice Acting classes through the year. As much of a struggle this past year has been, being able to take classes by Zoom has been a great blessing. If I had completed my original Voice Over class in the studio, I know I would have pursued this goal further but I don’t know if I would have ever have taken as many classes in person in such a short a mount of time. I have been very blessed.
I have more classes I want to take, but also wanting to have a professional demo reel produced, both of which are limited by my budget, so finding employment is a must.
Which brings me to what I’ve been doing for the last three months.
I’ve been working in animation. Yes! I’ve been working in animation. You don’t know how thrilled that makes me feel. Yes, I worked on another animation production a few years ago, but it didn’t go anywhere, but it was a good learning experience. This was much more than that.
Years ago I got to know Mike Young when his company was producing VOLTRON THE THIRD DIMENSION. We had been looking for a way to work together for some time. Now years later it looks like we might have a chance.
Mike now runs a company called SPLASH ENTERTAINMENT About three months ago I got a call that they had an opening on a production and was I interested. YES.
After an interview with the producer I started working as a Production Coordinator in July and for three months it was a fantastic experience.
Basically it was a lot of moving data around, tracking notes given by the director, editor, and producers as each new scene came in. I also got help compile lines of dialog in preparation of doing ADR retakes and schedule time with talent and the recording studios.
The job ended yesterday (Sept. 30th, 2021), but I am not disappointed. Even though it only lasted three months it was a very enjoyable and learning experience.
I can’t tell you what the movie is yet, but when it comes out next year be sure that I’ll be talking about it and promoting it.
Have already begun searching for the next job, but I now feel like I am standing on a solid foundation of not only experience but of the type of jobs I will be looking for from here on out.
As part of my Voice Over training, this past semester I took a class at Pasadena City College entitled: ANNOUNCING FOR ELECTRONIC MEDIA. There were many projects we did, including Voice Over, music radio intros, and more, was being able to create my own radio program and do an interview. Of course I called the radio show FOUR NAMES OF PROFESSIONAL CREATIVITY.
So I asked my good friend Craig Miller if I could interview him about the book – STAR WARS MEMORIES: My Time In The Death Star Trenches.
I learned a lot in the experience and in the class, and was absolutely thrilled when the instructor asked if my interview could be included on the Lancer Radio Network public website.
Enjoy the interview, then go check out Craig’s book.
During my recent Voice Over Workshop/Class with actor Richard Horvitz I was determined to have my own Home Studio Recording Booth. Working with other students and Mr. Horvitz, I researched a lot of potential booth concepts. From the far too expensive (and would never fit in the apartment) down to seeing if I could rearrange my closet (not possible). All the research finally lead to VocalBoothsToGo.com where they have numerous types of booths from large to small, permanent to portable, and I found what I wanted and could afford.
They have a DYI booth made of PVC pipes and sound dampening moving blankets. I chose to have them pre-cut the pipes to the size I needed and a couple of weeks later I began to assemble the booth. Have a look.
At the start of the year I had great 2020 Vision (go back and read the blog) – that vision had such great plans for the year ahead…
It didn’t go at all as planned (for none of us). Even before Covid struck, on the second day of the year I was told I was being laid off from my job which I had for 10 years.
So I was home, and soon my wife would be working from home as well. I truly believe that to be a blessing.
A family member is in the hospital (praise God not with Covid).
That all said, the year wasn’t all that bad for me. Being home most of the time allowed certain things to happen, or things for me to discover, that I wouldn’t have if the world was still going as it had a year ago.
I had already planned to take Voice Acting Classes, by the end of that first class I was determined to make Voice Over as part of my career. I soon found other classes and workshops I could do online that I wouldn’t have been able to do previously. Joined Toastmasters, got back into college courses, and became an Improv actor.
With 2021 about to start, I am confident that there many blessings that came to me through 2020 even as stressful as it was.
What is to come next, I am not entirely certain but am Determined to grab hold of each and every blessing that is to follow.
The year 2020 hasn’t turned out the way any of us had planned it. But looking now my 2020 Vision from the beginning of the year and isn’t all that cloudy. Along with being an artist and writer, I had begun training to become a voice actor for animation. Things may have slowed down some, but they haven’t stopped. I’m still writing, and am regularly doing artwork for books by Airship 27 Productions. I continue taking more classes towards my acting career. At my wife encouragement I have joined a local chapter of Toastmasters – Toastmasters 4 Writers. What could be more perfect. At a meeting nearly a year ago, before I officially joined I did an Impromptu ‘Table Topics’ speech which I won, and it set off my Determination to become a Voice Actor. This past Saturday (August 8th, 2020) I gave my first speech. An ‘Icebreaker’ speech they call it, introducing myself to the group. As I wrote my speech I began to realize the moment in my life that set me off on the road to being an artist, writer, and now actor. It all began with ‘Old Time Radio.’
What follows is my Toastmasters Icebreaker speech, entitled: “Tales of Yesteryear Told in Future Tense”. (Points to those who know what two radio programs that is a reference to.)
Nearly forty years ago I went to my first comic book convention.
It was fun, and quite small.
Next I would attend a Robotech convention, it was fun, and even smaller.
A few years later I went to my very first San Diego Comic-Con.
At the time it was held in the old San Diego Convention Center downtown, I’m not old enough to have attended in the hotel where it first began. But that year, it was quite an amazing experience for the kid who had his hopes set on becoming a comic book artist.
Two things stand out in my memories of my first Comic-Con. Getting inking lessons from Dick Giordano, (especially how to create ‘Kirby Dots’) and hoping to meet one of my favorite writers. Unfortunately, he missed his panel, afterwards a few of us attempted to have him paged, but he never showed.
Many years later I spotted him across the lobby of one of the San Diego Comic-Con hotels and I rushed across to talk with him. I told him how much his comics, his writing, his research, influenced the young boy that I was and the man I am. That was probably one of the best experiences of all my Comic-Con visits.
The year of my first San Diego Comic-Con the attendance was 5,000.
That sounded like a massive amount of people at the time, but it is nothing compared to the 120,000 to 160,000 that have attended each year over the last decade or so. Many more who hang out in the Gaslamp District.
In over 30 years I only missed San Diego one time.
I’ve always been a loner geek, and in a massive con crowd even more so. I’d have to find someone to go with me.
With in weeks of when the woman who would become my wife moved to Southern California, I took to her to her first convention. To the San Diego Comic-Con. She’d later say I should have started her off small, but she enjoyed it all the same, and has gone with me every year since. Both of us with Pro-Badges now.
This year things are different, for all of us. Convention season hasn’t been canceled; it has gone virtual. The Convention Center, Exhibit Hall, The Masquerade, the Panels, they all exist in The Cloud right now. On YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, and more. For San Diego Comic-Con they are now Comic-Con@Home. Wednesday, July 22nd. to Sunday, July 26.
It’s disappointing, but it’s not gone.
As for the future, no one really knows yet. Conventions will probably never be that large again, but maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s time that our love for comics, movies, video games, science fiction, and fantasy returns to being more intimate. Where a small group of fans can enjoy their shared love for a comic book, or good naturedly argue over how a movie didn’t quite get their favorite character just right, and not be crowded out and have to shout over one another. Where Disney Princesses and Transformers don’t have to worry about thousands of feet tramping on their costumes.
The Cons are about us, the fans, and our love of stories that exist in four-color comics, books, celluloid film, digital pixels, computer screens, smart phones, and much more.
Speaking of that love, and of our fandoms, I’d like to recommend something:
ONCE UPON A CON
As I write this blog I am finishing reading a book for the third time. It seemed to be the right book to read in the midst of this Con Season.
This book is a love song to comic and science fiction conventions, to comics and science fiction television, to fans and fandom, to just plain being a geek no matter who you are. Are you an actor, a writer, an artist, a blogger, or just a good old fan of an old TV series, you exist inside the impossible universe of Geekeralla.
While not being able to go to a con and need something to pull on your convention heartstrings, this book will do it.
Are you looking for fast paced action adventure stories in the style of the old Pulp Novels of the 1930s and want to find great authors that write them. The pick up a copy of WHO’S WHO IN NEW PULP a directory of over 200 authors, artists, publishers and reviews in the New Pulp genre.
My wife Shannon Muir and I are very honored to be part of this directory.
You can purchase a copy through Amazon and all go to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Thank you Ron Fortier and Rob Davis from Airship 27 for putting this together.
For the last few years I have been working as an interior illustrator for Airship 27, a publisher that focuses on what is called “New Pulp.” Fast pasted adventure tails in the styles of the pulp novels of the 1930s.
Today I get to tell you that they have released the latest book that has my artwork inside.
Volume 3 of THE BAY PHANTOM novels by author Chuck Miller entitled “Midnight in Hell’s Cathedral”.
Here’s the Press Release and Cover Art by artist Chris Rawding followed by one of my interior illustration.
Check it out and pick up a copy you’ll be in for a thrill ride.
Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to announce the release of the third action packed Bay Phantom adventure by stellar New Pulp writer, Chuck Miller.
Once again Mobile, Alabama’s mysterious crime-fighter, the Bay Phantom, finds himself battling another criminal mastermind. This one is know only as the Kraken and has the power to turn people into mindless puppets and have them do his bidding; leaving chaos and destruction in their path. As if that wasn’t enough for the Phantom to deal with, his friend, Tom Dart, is about to be executed in state prison for crimes he did not commit. Can Maribelle Darcy devise a plan to rescue Dart before the fatal hour arrives?
And then a certain Federal Agent named Elliot Ness arrives in town with the goal of capturing the Bay Phantom.
“Nobody writes like Chuck, Miller,” insist Airship 27 Production’s Managing Editor Ron Fortier. “Chuck has a truly unique style that blends both black comedy with off-the-wall pulp action. You can say what you will about this series, but it is never boring.”
Returning to the series to handle interior illustrations is artist Kevin Paul Shaw Broden and Chris Rawding provides the cover all under the helm of Art Director Rob Davis.
Once again pulp scribe Chuck Miller weaves a zany, madcap pulp thriller like no one else can. This is action-adventure with a Southern Twist not to be missed.
I have to really learn to to commit to writing a blog a week or more, especially when it’s the continuation go a topic from earlier posts. Sorry about that, you’ve been patiently waiting to hear what I have to say… Sure you do.
I completed the six week Voice Over Acting Class in North Hollywood. Though the final four were done on Zoom several weeks late.
Won’t go into detail, but I will say that I had a fabulous time, and the teacher really complimented me on my work and how I sounded at the mike. Took direction well. He even said I had a similar voice to another actor he’s worked with.
So I came away from that class feeling really great, and wanting to continue further into Voice Over work.
I’m awaiting to sign up for his second workshop, in the meantime I took a one day voice acting class through a studio that I have longed to visit, and taught by an actor I had listened to in my childhood. It was a great introductory experience to the work they do there, even though like all the other classes right now it was on Zoom. Am really looking forward to taking more courses and getting a chance to audition for voices in animation and commercials.
Will see where the Lord leads me and where I will speak up next.
My wife has a bible verse that she always goes back to, and in these times it is a most important one to remember:
Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
No matter what we had planned at the beginning of 2020, the year certainly didn’t go the way we had planned.
For me, and you’ll see if you look on my New Years blog entry, I had a fantastic year set out before me. I called it my 2020 Vision, and that vision was focused on Voice Over Acting for Animation. I’ve been a comic book artist and an animation script writer, so why not add Voice Over to my portfolio of work.
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and certainly not something I could jump into. I didn’t even think I could do ‘funny voices.’ But that didn’t matter, I have a passion for animation and a growing love for Voice Acting.
So I did the smartest thing I reached out to some of my Animation and Voice Over friends for a recommendation of where I should go to receive the best beginners training.
I had been putting money aside over the last year to be used in this new goal of mine, and in December of last year I signed up for a Voice Acting Workshop that would begin in March.
Then the Clock chimed in a new year, my family celebrated on the 1st as we all was did, and on the 2nd I went back to work.
I am called into the boss who informs me that for budgetary reason my position was being eliminated, and so at the end of January I was laid off from a part-time job I’ve had for 9 years.
Disappointed I was, but not giving up, I had already put the money down on my class and so I was going to see it through.
Over the next months I began to reach out to many of my friends in the animation industry, as well as employment recruiters I had gotten to know over the years. All promised they would keep an eye open for any opportunities that came along. Some of them even knew of openings with their companies and submitted my names with a recommendation letter. I also checked every company job board on a daily basis.
I wasn’t expecting a job to come right out of the blue…
Then March came along and my Voice Over Acting Workshop was about to begin. I was absolutely thrilled to be taking it. I had no idea if I’d be any good, but I was going to enjoy every moment as I learned what I could. At the absolute least I would gain knowledge of being an actor which I could use as an animation script writer.
You can write the lines, but it’s important to know how the actor is going to interpret them.
I showed up for the first class ready to get started. It was the introductory class letting us know how the instructor (a very well known animation voice actor, who had even worked on a show my wife had been on in production) told us how he would teach us to have fun.
On that first night each one of us had the opportunity to stand before the mic and read lines of dialog.
I had wondered if I was going to get scared that first time, get nervous, chicken out, or have a coughing fit I couldn’t control and would have to leave —
— Oh, I hadn’t mentioned, I had gotten a cold in early December, shook it off but it returned at the end of the year and into January. The cough always remains long after the cold is gone. But by February I thought it was gone and so I signed up for a local Improv Group. Small gathering of actors doing this on their own. The nightly payment wasn’t bad so I gave it a try. The first part of it went well, I contributed properly, but by about half way through the gathering my COUGH returned so badly that I couldn’t participate well and so ended up sitting off to the side watching the others do some fantastic work. I’ll be honest, the cough was partially an excuse because I had frozen up in one scene and had no idea what I was doing next. But the coughing was bad enough it wasn’t helping the story so I sat on the side. Leaving that night I wanted to return, but was also terrified to do it again —
So I had similar feelings (but luckily no cough) when I stepped up to the mic, and you know what?
I actually did pretty well.
I was able to read all my lines without stumbling over my tongue. Sure, I wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t bad either. The teacher gave suggestion on how to improve, and he even told me what actor I sounded like.
I left that night absolutely thrilled and looking forward to the next and standing before that mic once more.
By the time the second week there were already concerns about people being sick and the virus spreading, but it was still a minor thing.
The instructor spent an hour telling us more about being an actor and how best to have fun playing as he gave us our lessons. Then it Mic time once more. New lines of dialog (this time having gotten to study and practice with them over the last few days) to read.
And… I surprised myself again. I understood what the instructor was wanting us to discover in the dialog and how to use it in being the character. I really did well a second time, and was thrilled by the outcome.
I was really looking forward to the next week, and even more so when a few days later I receives the story I’d be playing.
But then everything got turned upside down. The news broke of the growing number of cases of the Corona-Virus…
The instructor sent out an email saying that he planned to have the next class, we would find a way to provide ‘social distancing’ in the studio. (Which I knew would be very hard because of how many people were in the class and how small the studio was.) Then a second email came saying that after talking with the staff at the studio, and considering all the other people that came and went during a day there, it would be best not to have the class there for a while.
So the the instructor suggested we do it online. He already does personal coaching that way, so setting up a class via Skype or Zoom was a possibility. (I didn’t even know what Zoom was until that day, now everyone knows and uses it). So he offered the class to vote to see if we wanted to continue the class via Zoom or postpone till this was all over.
I, wanting to continue what I was so excited about doing, voted to Zoom it. Unfortunately most of the class wanted to postpone it.
I understood the reason, but my heart sunk.
The instructor hoped to get things started again in a few weeks, and would be in touch along the way. But over the following weeks I didn’t heard anything so reached out to the teacher. But it would be another week or more before I got a response.
He reached out to the class once more, and this time they agreed to continue to do the class via Zoom. (Maybe some of them were just bored and wanted to something to do.)
I was absolutely thrilled.
So this past Tuesday we were back at it, but from each of our homes, on mic and on camera.
I had been practicing my lines during the break period and had pretty well honed the character down to what I thought it should be.
So now my ‘time at the mic’ came up and I did pretty good, but the instructor could tell I had been rehearsing. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but I think it lacked some spontaneity. That’s when the real assignment began. Based on homework we turned in, he gave us different characters to play while reading the same lines.
I really amazed myself as I switched voices into a new character.
As i read my lines from the printed paper out of the corner of my eye I could see the teacher reacting. Though muted he seemed to be smiling and laughing.
When I was done he turned all the mics on and I got thrilling response from the instructor and all the other students. The crazy thing was that this hadn’t happened with any of the others. They were all good, but I had never heard them all response to a performance all at once.
It was a really great feeling.
One great performance doesn’t an actor make, but it was a fantastic experience.
I’m looking forward to what we do in the remaining three weeks of the class.
What happens after that I don’t know, but I’m ready to find out.
We may plan our days, but God establishes our steps.
Tonight is the second night of the six week Voice Acting Class I’ve been taking. I’m quite surprised at how I did the first night. I wasn’t nervous at all stepping up to the mic. Didn’t flub too badly either, until the instructor told me to read really fast. But that’s part of the learning.
Looking forward to tonight’s class.
The rain may complicate my drive over to the studio, but should do okay. Hopefully I’ll have a whole lot more to report on after tonight. This is all about playing and having fun, and so far I am.