12 Things That Make Me Happy

There are lots of things that make many people happy, for some it’s food, others its candy and even others a variety of things, here’s just 12 of mine

12. Music, all kinds but mostly Texas Blues, Stevie Ray, Jimmy Vaughn, Johnny Lang, etc.. this type of music is by far the most fun to listen to and to play (albeit rather bad) on my guitar. But it makes me smile, and that’s really all that matters.

11. Food, especially sandwiches, I watch the Sandwich King on #foodnetwork alot, he’s just amazing and I love the food he makes, I only wish I had that kind of creativity, and bank account to buy all the great food he turns in to sammys

10. Chocolate, ok, that’s food, but still, I mean seriously who doesn’t like chocolate

9. Baseball, Golf, Football, not necessarily in that order, I could watch it on TV, play a round, or have a catch anytime, any day, any where.. 

8. People watching especially in Walmart, airports, and at public events, there is nothing more entertaining than watching people who have no clue as to why they are dressed the way they are, or talk, act the way they are, favorite of all time: Man in Walmart wearing a thong.. seriously

7. Tacos.. wait that’s food.. still Lobster, Shrimp and or Mahi Tacos are the best

6. Driving, yes, driving, getting in the car and going for a drive is stress relieving, fun and you can get places faster than walking (also sort of fun, but not nearly as exciting)

5. Antiques, anything historical, old, interesting, well made (preferably wood and/or metal) and not made in china is pretty awesome, nothing against the chinese products, I just prefer things made in America. 

4. Conversation with The Greatest Generation, the men and women who are still able to recount their lives and how they survived the Depression, WWII, Korea and Vietnam are extraordinary human beings. I cannot thank them enough for their contributions, sacrifices and humanity. 

3. My extended Family, my parents and siblings live in separate areas of the country, but my wifes all live within about 40 miles of each other, and the closeness that they have is something I’m glad to be a part of, I wish it were just the same on my side of the fence.

2. My beautiful wife, she has put up with a lot, ups downs, in betweens and through it all still loves me for who I am, and I her. 

1. My two beautiful sons, 5 was a ten year project, 16 month old was our surprise and we couldn’t be more happy, they are healthy, happy and the joy of my life. I love them with all my heart and soul. 

These are just a few of what makes me happy, kind of sappy, but still, it’s what makes me who I am and what I strive to be

Pass the taco sauce please.. 

 

Opening Day

There’s nothing quite like Opening Day every year in the rite of spring know thoughout the baseball world. Hot dogs, beer, pop, peanuts, really gooey nachos and dream of catching a foul ball no matter where your seats are.  Baseball has been part of my life for the last 48 years, from when I was kid and you had to “try out” to make the team, couple years I didn’t and that was ok, but most years I did, well because I practiced, played, practiced some more and played it daily from April through September.  I am trying to teach my 5yr old the game, he’s getting better, has a wicked natural curve ball and can whack the crap outta the ball, I started pitching a whiffle ball overhand to him back when he was 3, not underhand, OVERHAND and he’s a great hitter, not much with the glove yet, but he’ll get there.

Baseball is such an awesome game, it can last a long time, or be over in the minimum (27 pitches for those that don’t follow the greatest of sports achievements). I listen to a lot of baseball on the radio, and watch when I can, but what is the most endearing factor of baseball is that it brings families together at the park for a day of watching their favorite team try and beat the daylights out of the baseball, stealing bases, smashing monstrous home runs, plays at the plate, a long throw from center field to 3rd to put out the runner, run downs, bad calls, exuberant umpires, impressive ball boys/girls making a great pickup on a hot foul grounder, the smell of mustard, onions, relish and hot dogs, getting beer spilled on you from the upper deck , t-shirt cannons, hearing The Star Spangled Banner, and watching veterans enjoy the game, Take Me out to the Ballgame at the stretch. This is America, this is Opening Day, Hope you get to enjoy it with the ones you care most about.

Small Towns Part Deux

So,, I’ve gotten some great feedback on the blog post on Small Towns and Why they Matter, and I post comments both good and bad, as I’m a fair and balanced person (sorry Fox, had to steal that).. Small towns are indeed cliquish if that is even a word, yes, they have great things, but they also have disturbing things go on in them. I’m sure we’ve all been talked about, shunned, deceived, manipulated and had facts distorted, taken out of context, the list is freaking endless..

My point about small town living is, not everyone stays, not everyone is happy, but it’s the small town that shapes individuals into who they are today.. Think about it, you’ve grown up and out of that small town ( or not, depending), but would you not say that the experience has taught you something?.. Here’s a great example,

I have a great friend who grew up in the Bronx NYC, this person is the most fascinating person I’ve met in decades, because her entire childhood life, from grade school through high school was incorporated into an area about the size of the football field in StJ. I’m not exaggerating, her school went from K-12 and was one block from her house, her street playground was across the street from her walk up brownstone, she never went farther than her parents could visibly see her.  When she left NYC, she went to school at Mizzou, graduated, and moved to KC.. She never saw a stream, a river, floated in a canoe, climbed a water tower, had date in a car on a gravel road (c’mon, you know you did) went to a high school football game. Amazed at this lack of “Life”, she is brilliantly aware of the world around her, she explores anything that is worth exploring and isn’t bitter about not having it as a younger person at all. Her childhood, early adulthood made her the inquisitive, outgoing, adventurous person she is today.   Now,, let’s flip it around shall we…

You grew up in this small town, had lots of friends, lots of enemies, had all the amenities that small town life brings, and that too made you who you are. Regardless if your bitter, regardless if you’re happy. This small little town, shaped you into who you are, it made you better person.  Hate it if you want, that’s your prerogative, I for one, put all the hatred, jealousy, back biting and “small town mentality” into a place in my mind that I can recall fondly. I use those memories to shape my sons futures, I hope that someday I can take them to my small little home town and show them the beauty of it, good and bad, you can use it for whatever you wish  

 

Who moved my cheese?

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I often get caught in a rut and just end up doing the same old stuff day in and day out, and I think it’s starting to wear on me a bit, for example, I get up, I take my son to school, I go to work, I come home, I eat, I try to speak to my spouse in between boys screaming, getting into stuff and then I sleep. Lather Rinse Repeat.. I need for someone to move my cheese, mix it up a bit, who’s gonna do that for me, You?, how bout you?,, hmm nope not gonna happen, the only person to make things different is me. I started doing things a bit different this week, I mean I still do all of the above, but I’ve been trying to figure out new ways to enhance my monetary gains, either using my talents in the production studio, or making new connections and networking with movers shakers, people who, you know actually make a lot of money, although I’m not quite sure how.. but I’m willing to learn.  

Last year, I thought maybe I would get out of Radio and try something outside my comfort zone, so I studied, took and passed (the 2nd time around) the Life/Health Insurance exams. Wanted to work for NYLife, yeah, didn’t happen, got avoided by nearly everyone I came in contact with,, so I went back to doing what I do best in my little radio world, an opportunity came along (actually I think it was God giving me a  little nudge, but I can’t really prove it, I have faith that He did though) and I struck up a conversation with a client who designs benefits for clients in the Health Insurance arena, he does a syndicated radio program nationwide and I just flat asked him if he thought he could use someone with my skill sets who also had been licensed. I thought he was going to come out of his shoes, he was excited, I was excited, so…. beginning in April I’ll work for him, producing his radio program, and helping folks with the problems they are going to face with developing a plan for their healthcare insurance needs. Let’s face it, we’re all going to need it, we’re all going to use it, and we’re all going to need a way to provide it for ourselves that’s cost effective. 

My point in the blog post is this, if you feel that you’re in rut, for cryin out loud get up and move the cheese, do something different, learn a new language, invent something,, oh wait… SQUIRREL.. ,Image cool site http://www.quirky.com ,, check it out for cool new inventions if you’re in to that,, learn to cook, get out of the rut, move the cheese..if you’re working at a dead end job, find a new one, if you have something that you do, that you would do for free just because you love to do it,, that’s your passion and that’s what you turn into something great. 

Move the cheese

Small Towns and why they matter

I went to high school in a small town in mid-missouri 8 miles east of Rolla Missouri. When I graduated our class was 98 souls that all knew each other in some way or another. I belonged to 3 cliques, the Heads, The Jocks and The Band,, let me break it down for you..wait let’s back up and let me explain how I got here.  I was a Navy brat, my dad rose through the ranks and retired as  a Lt. we moved every 3 years from as early as I could remember to 1972. My dad’s last base was in Patuxent River Maryland and that would be where he would retire from the Military, we trekked across the country to Missouri where my father attended University of Missouri/Rolla and then St. Louis while us kids struggled to survive a small town mentality, schools and lifestyle. It was extremely different for me, I mean I never had trouble making friends as I had to do so every 3 years whether I liked it or not and now that this was our final “home” that meant I would be here for awhile and I could make LOTS of friends, hence the trio of cliques that all small towns have. 

Now where was I, oh yes the groups of people that influenced my life.  Lets start with the Heads, these are still my closest of close friends, the very first person I befriended was a pistol of a woman, short, skinny, a smile as big as anything you can imagine and an outlook on life, like no other. I asked her if I could borrow a pen in our Psych class… I did this everyday for our Junior year, we became fast friends, and she introduced me to the rest of the “gang”. Now when you think of Heads, you might not get it right away, and then again you might, guess it depends on how old you are. We frequented rock concerts, smoked weed, drank excessively, partied to all hours of the night on weekends and generally raised all kinds of hell. The Jocks, self explanatory, I played baseball and football.. great bunch of people, both men and women. The Band.. again pretty self explanatory, I was in Jazz Band, Concert Band, Pep Band and Marching Band after the football season, not that it mattered much really after that, parades and such were the extent of the Marching experience. Why does all this matter, and what can you take away from it?

Without this small town life and atmosphere I would have never met the people I have, met my wife, developed a career in entertainment. I would have never ever done the things I did when I left that small town, trying to make it on my own in a very scary world.  My whole adult life has roots in this small little town, (although not so small now, hey they put a traffic light up at the 4 way stop), I will never forget the good times, the lean times, the high times and the lessons it taught me.Image

 

Those that never left after graduation and raised their families in this small town life have my envy in a way. I miss them, I think of them almost every day, and I thank God that they are who they are. Without them, I wouldn’t be me

Audio Edit(ing) Nightmare

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Ok, so you’ve got about 16 chapters done of your latest audiobook narration and you start to think again about the second part of this massive project.  The post production editing.. do you edit each chapter after you finish recording it (as I do) or…. do you record several chapters at once and then go back and edit from your markers?.. Great questions indeed. I have found that the nightmare begins at Chapter 1 and then when you get to the final chapter (in my case 23) then you wake up and realize that it’s taken you 6 months to record, edit, proof and submit your audiobook to the writers/marketplace.  Do you do your own editing?, do you farm it out? If you do the latter, what do you pay for that service?.  

Here’s the reason I’m asking, I’m an accomplished editor FIRST, narrator second. My expertise is in fine tuning the audio adding/deleting/spacing/pacing the finished product, everything from the noise ceiling to mastering the audio to give it the best possible sound for the end user, ultimately the buyer of the audiobook. I would love the opportunity to edit your projects so you don’t have to. Of course it all comes with a fee for this service and its done with the very latest in audio technology. Although I truly love narrating a great story and giving it my best, maybe the best way to keep learning my craft is by hearing others, their styles, their characters, their delivery. I’m not even in the same league as a lot of you. But I am VERY good at what I do after I finish narration and I’ll bet I can make your life a whole lot easier in the studio. 

Interested? maybe you send me an email, maybe you leave a comment here, if your TIME is worth as much to you as it is to me, then I think we can chat about a great partnership. 

Andi Arndt’s Audiobook Agenda

imagingradio:

Want some great advice for getting in the zone prior to cracking the mic for the days work?

Originally posted on Audiobook Creation Exchange Blog (ACX):

Today, we’re joined by Audible Approved producer Andi Arndt, who takes us through her daily audiobook production checklist. When it comes to producing great sounding audiobooks, consistency and attention to detail are key. So, take Andi’s ideas to heart, then write up your own checklist and stick to it every time you’re ready for the day’s session.

Andi’s OCD Pre-Narration Checklist

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Audible Approved Producer Andi Arndt

Maintaining consistent audio and performance quality is crucial to long-form narration.  It makes sense, then, to have a consistent approach to each day’s work.  Every setup is a little different, but here’s what happens in my studio to start the day.

Turn the HVAC off.

Low hums and fan whooshes?  No way.  Climate control happens before a session starts and during lunch breaks.  (In about a month or so, this won’t be an issue because I’ll be installing a lovely new Studiobricks One

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10 Reasons to Read to Your Kids

I get the biggest thrill reading stories in character to my two sons, my oldest is almost 6 and just now learning to read, and I feel his pain as he struggles through the simplest of words, “the” “wrong” “throw” “how”.. simple words, yet to a 5 year old its very frustrating. We got him this ABCMouse.com software program and that seems to help. But my biggest joy is watching that lightbulb over his head grow brighter everyday. When it goes full on, and it will here pretty quick, the world will be endless to him, the possibilities are unforgettable.

I can remember as a lad his age my readers were “See Dick Run”, “The Cat in the Hat” ,and other primers from the public school library, then that light bulb (incandescent even) came on and  I relished going to the public library and checking out books. I’ll admit, I would always check out the same ones over and over again, mostly WWII action thrillers, like Guadalcanal Diary, History books that dealt with aircraft (my dad was in the Navy at the time), anything that remotely had anything to do with action, GIJoe, Hand grenades and the USMC, I delved into with added gusto. 

Now, my job is to read words, deliver them in a beautiful tone that invites the listener to turn the page, buy the product, visit a location, drink a beverage, attend a workshop, buy a pet, play the lottery,, it never ends and it’s extremely gratifying.  I am so anxious for the day when my son can read to ME the Cat in the Hat and deliver it with the same inflections, the same story telling nuances that have brought me to where I am today. 

Want to learn characters,, read to a child, BE every character, BE in the story, you’ll be amazed at how fun it is and at the same time, it will help your kids learn the story, so that when they reach that moment in time they too can pay it forward to the next generation. Story telling is definitely an art, spoken words are art for the ears

Heroes and Why we need them today

Roger James

Roger James

This is Roger James as you can well tell from the caption in the photo, he is a very humble man, a member of the Country Club Baptist Church in Kansas City, a past President of the Delaware Crossing Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, a family man, a husband, father and small business owner. He’s also the recipient of the French Govt highest award to non citizens. The French Legion of Merit. Why?.. Read on (reprinted with permission)..

K`APPA SIGMA ALUMNUS AWARDED THE FRENCH LEGION OF HONOR
ROGER F. JAMES CITED FOR VALOROUS SERVICE IN WORLD WAR II
Seventy years after the WWII battle of Rittershoffen, Roger F. James, of Raymore, MO was decorated with the highest award conferred by the Republic of France: Knight of the French Legion of Honor. The medal, instituted by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 was presented by Honorary French Consul, Dr. Arthur Elman, MD and was accompanied by a Citation and Letter of Congratulations from the President of France.  The presentation ceremony was held March 15, 2014 at a meeting of the Delaware Crossing Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution in Overland Park, KS.
In late December, 1944, the now 90 recipient was just 20 years old; a corporal tank gunner serving in Company “C”, 48th Tank Battalion, 14th Armored Division (Liberators).  The decisive armor engagement in which his company lost 13 of its 15 tanks was characterized by General Jacob Devers, as part of the “Greatest defensive battle of the war.”  In the big picture it was overshadowed by the Battle of the Bulge in which the highly publicized defense of Bastogne occurred a week earlier.
Corporal James’ piece of the action commenced on New Year’s Eve, when US Task Force Hudelson received the opening blows of Operation Nordwind, the last major Nazi offensive on the Western Front.  Engaged by elements of five German divisions, the TF succeeded in delaying the enemy advance long enough for strong reinforcements to arrive and contain that thrust.  Operation Nordwind nearly succeeded when the axis of the main attack shifted to a line centered between the villages of Hatten and Rittershoffen and achieved a short-lived breakthrough of US Seventh Army lines.  In a furious armored engagement, elements of the 14th Armored Division, supported by the 2nd and 3rd Batalions, 315th Infantry, fought the German XXXIX Panzer Corps to a stand-still, stopped the breakthrough and restored the defensive line at the two villages.
On the eve of the firefight which merited the award, three tanks of the Second Platoon were deployed in deep snow on the northern edge of Rittershoffen, about 8 miles west of the Rhine river and roughly 23 miles northeast of Strasbourg in Alsace.  All night long they were subjected to the noise of maneuvering tanks coming from behind a ridgeline to their front. The Germans were attempting to unnerve the tankers.  By listening closely, the Americans quickly detected cyclical repetitions. The noise was being blasted from a loudspeaker. The tankers were, however, unprepared for their first encounter with the “screaming meemies”.  The German artillery fired a shell that screeched louder and louder and sounded as if it was inside their helmets until it passed harmlessly overhead. Additional nebelwerfer shells that followed soon lost most of their psychological effect.
Unbeknownst to the weary tankers, enemy infantry had infiltrated to their rear and doused several buildings with gasoline. Before dawn the houses suddenly burst into bright flame silhouetting the tanks which were quickly backed to the relative safety of a sunken farm road.  In hull defiled only the turrets of the M4A3 Sherman tanks were exposed.  It was still dark when, just as suddenly, a German patrol appeared clad in white camouflage suits with peaked hoods that made them seem over seven feet tall.  Gunner James quickly fired a high explosive shell set on delay and bounced it off the ground disposing of that threat.  Immediately a Panther tank lurched into view.  James told his loader, Clarence Wilde, to keep loading armor piercing shells and that he was going to hit the Panzer as often as he could.  German tank guns were so powerful that they could shoot completely through American tanks. This was serious business.  Wilde never missed a beat.  James’ first shell ricocheted straight up. The fifth well-aimed shell struck the gun shield and glanced downward into the driver’s compartment whereupon the Panzer burst into flame never having fired a shot.   The range had been about 40 yards.

 

James’ tank commander, a sergeant, had seen enough. He jumped out and fled to a nearby basement. The driver, Howard Harper, took command, came to the hatch and standing exposed gave James continuous firing orders.  The Germans soon sent several men armed with panzerfaust weapons launching football size projectiles with thermal cores that burned through armor and exploded inside tanks with devastating results. The tankers were relieved to dispose of three of them, but not before panzerfaust had disabled the other two 2d Platoon tanks. Two crew members were killed, cut down by German machine gun fire as they scrambled from the tanks, while the others found cover in nearby houses.

 

Harper said “It’s time to get out of here.”  James provided covering fire from the open turret with his 45 caliber grease gun while Harper rounded up the dismounted tankers and loaded them on the remaining tank.  Harper again took control of the gears and bulldozed the disabled tanks out of the way.  Then, knocking off the corner of a house, he raced away at top speed. A shell hit a glancing blow to the side of their tank as they repositioned to continue the fight from inside the village. By their valiant action that day, 13 of 15 Second Platoon tankers (including the cowardly sergeant) were rescued from death or capture.
Two days later with a new commander the crew lost their tank in an encounter in the shadow of a huge burned out church that dominated the center of Rittershoffen.  Two men were killed. Their pet and prospective stew, a plump Alsatian rabbit, went missing in action. The surviving crew counted taking at least five hits before abandoning the tank and then watched from a distance as puffs of black smoke belched from the turret as the ammunition load cooked off.  After 11 days of almost constant contact the survivors were sent to get a new tank.
The German offensive finally sputtered to a halt on January 25 along the Moder River where the US Seventh Army had established a reinforced main line of defense. The 14th Division, refitted and resupplied, resumed the offense on March 15, crossed the Rhine on Easter Sunday, and raced across the German heartland to the Austrian border. Corporal James missed most of that ride.
While waiting in the village of Ludwigswinkle, still on the French side of the Rhine, James, now tank commander, was perched, as a friend said, “fat, dumb and happy” atop the turret of “his” tank enjoying a delicious steak sandwich. The first of several random mortar shells burst beside the tank. His left arm absorbed a sledgehammer blow and protected his head though his face and upper torso were pierced by multiple shards of shrapnel. He was evacuated to a Field Hospital in Dijon and slapped in an upper body cast for several weeks followed by painful rehab.  When the war ended on 8 May Corporal James was en route across a thoroughly defeated Germany to rejoin the heroes of Company “C”.

 

The requisites for award of the French Legion of Honor to American veterans are: the combat action must have taken place on the soil of France; the recipient must hold at least two United States valor awards such as the Purple Heart, a Bronze or Silver Star; been honorably discharged; and remain alive.  James met all requisite qualifications and is especially gratified to have achieved the last one.
James first learned about his eligibility for the award in 2013 through “The Liberator” the 14th Armored Division Association newsletter. He submitted his application through the Military Attache at the French Consulate in Chicago.  It was then sent through multiple reviews in France before final approval.  The entire process took about a year and now James is a Knight.
“Sir” Roger was initiated into the Gamma Omicron (O) Chapter of Kappa Sigma Fraternity at the University of Kansas prior to the American entry into WWII. Like many of the Brothers including Bobby Dole (Later Senator Robert J. Dole) James soon enlisted for military service. Upon his return from the war Brother James took a bride, Miss Joan Happy, to whom he has been “happily” married for 63 years. Roger founded the James Printing Company and fathered three children (daughter Karen McHugh, and Kappa Sig sons Andy O ’73 and Evan  O ’75) who proudly accompanied him at the ceremony.  James is now the sole surviving member of his original tank crew.  He was greatly honored a few years ago to deliver the funeral eulogy for his combat comrade Howard Harper who had been best man in Roger and Joan’s wedding.
Now, you’ve read about Mr. James. I was present when he was given the medal from the French Consulate and I have never been more proud to be an American

Learning the Art of Character

I’m finishing up Chapter 16 in this latest audio book I’m narrating  The Shannon Trilogy by Allen Cole/Chris Bunch for ACX and it’s a fascinating story,mainly because of the time frame this particular book is set in (Civil War era) so I get to play Southern Belles’ and Gentleman with their genteel southern drawls that would rival a Gone With The Wind movie script any day.. but I digress, let’s move into the point of this entry to the blog.

Art of Character…

I have the unique ability to read ahead in the book, almost 3 sentences ahead, so I can “feel” the emotion of the character as I deliver the narrative. I’m sure there are a lot of narrators out there who also have this ability, maybe they don’t, matters not for the jist of this bit of information. But, when delivering the characters, you have to understand the mood, tone and then deliver that tone in the character that you are describing. I have to move between male and female charcters in voice/accent and tone, trying to be feminine and masculine in the same narrative is challenging and yet also very exciting.

How do you differentiate the characters in your reads?

As a voice actor/producer, I have added to my skill sets for radio production, but utilizing the character of the copy,  some of the copy that I receive is very poorly written and in some cases has to be re-written so that the message the client wants is delivered but yet the copy itself is delivered in a believable manner. I specialize in conversational reads, and when the script is written superbly by a pro it just jumps out of the speakers.

If you’re a copy writer, think critically when writing for your clients, get their message across, but be creative, think like the end user, write like you speak. I have met some very articulate people in my career, but outside of their jobs, when they are not “ON”, they tend to use language that is outside of their box. They are themselves, the people you might chat with at happy hour, or casually in the 12 items of less line, when they have 13. Use that when you’re writing a new client or even an existing clients advertising/marketing.

Comedy can be used so subtly that it takes a while for it to sink in, use it sparingly, but use it in you characterization. Want some great practice?

Read.. Fox in Sox- Dr. Suess IN CHARACTER, and over sell it..

Read The Cat in the Hat- Dr. Suess IN CHARACTER and be the narrator…

I suggest reading it to your kids, your grandkids, any kid that will appreciate a great story,  Then remember how you did it and apply that in your delivery of the next Character you are privileged to deliver