Saturday, November 21, 2009

New (to SherWords) from ACH and AGH

New (to here) from ACH
(Adam Charles Harrington)

Man at Work

Adam's Uncle Dick, his mother's oldest brother, trained hunting dogs in Minnesota for the last several years of his life. In fact, Dick died little more than a year ago (of a heart attack) while doing what he loved: hunting with his dogs.

Last month, Adam came across a recording of a radio ad that he did for his Uncle Dick several years ago, and it's remarkable for a couple of reasons. First, it's one of Adam's first commercials, but, second, his "co-star" is none other than Adam's late brother, Doug. You can hear it by clicking here. Doug is the straight man; Adam is in character.

As long as I'm in bragging mode for my boy, here are a few more references:

His longtime mentor, Susan McCollum, touted his work after her training in her October newsletter thusly: And once again, Adam Harrington leads the pack with work On EA's Ironman 2, numerous sessions for Lucas's "Monkey Island", characters for both "Assasins Creed" and "Shattered Horizons" for Emeryville's SomaTone and "Infinite Space" for WebTone. My boy's almost 40, and finally he's a teacher's pet! More seriously, Susan is a very fine and highly-respected voice actor and teacher, so her praise is significant. Her website can be seen by clicking here.

Voice acting sometimes requires patience and forbearance when auditioning -- especially when the voiceover artist recognizes that what he's reading is flamingly horribly written. Here's a four-minute audition for Celebrity Cruises that Adam sent in without listening to the product all the way to the end. His brief critique at the end is priceless: Adam says, "Here's why one should always, ALWAYS listen back before one sends an audition in. Don't bother listening to the whole (four effing minute long) audition. Just skip to the very end." Not surprisingly, he didn't get the gig.

[Note added post-production: You know what? You really do have to listen to the whole four minutes to enjoy the fraction of a second at the end appropriately. My boy soldiers on beyond any reasonable expectation until then, and the longer it goes, the more impressive his achievement in soldiering on is. I was about to split a gut even before the ending.]

Voice acting doesn't always go smoothly, even for simple, short items. When I do that sort of thing in lecture, I usually look over the tops of my glasses at the students and say, "Can you believe that they pay me to talk?"

New (to here) from AGH
(Arthur George Harrington)

After a two-month gap, Satchel of Ordinary Treasure is active again, this time with another set of short reminiscences from my grandfather (and Adam's great-grandfather) Arthur G. Harrington.

Art Harrington in 1946; the hand on his shoulder is his daughter Mary's. A startling realization for me while typing this very caption: Art is only ten years older in this picture than I am now. Holy smokes!

My grandfather's stories were transcribed near the end of his life by his eldest surviving daughter, Mary, who also cared for him day and night for the last few of his 80 years. Mary was a spinster (to use a painfully quaint word) and a talented teacher and writer in her own right, so she almost naturally kept notes on the old man's stories, and typed them up in a compilation called "Tales Told by your Grandfather Arthur George Harrington 1874 - 1954," which she distributed to Arthur's dozen or so grandchildren in the mid-1970's.

The booklet consists of photocopied small pages of typewritten text, with numerous hand-corrections and alterations which make it unsuitable for OCR (optical character recognition) scanning software, so entries in Satchel from it have to be hand transcribed via keyboard. That turns out to have been a blessing in an unexpected way.

The old man died when I was only seven years old. My only direct memories of him are dim ones of a mammoth, almost immobile, old man, and of a scent that seemed to evoke darkness and musty places. When Aunt Mary first distributed his little book of stories, I was in my twenties and full of myself -- I read them, sure, but they didn't seem like much to me then, busy as I was with misguiding my own life. So I put the little book away, and didn't look at again for years.

But an interesting thing has happened as a result of my having to key in each letter of his stories now. He has changed in my mind's eye from being an old, enfeebled mountain of a man, or even from being a name in a genealogy, to something progressively more human. As I feel like I have spent more time with him (because I have!), his name has changed for me from "Arthur G. Harrington" to "Art."

Art is a guy I think of now as a friend, someone I'd be very comfortable with at a bar after our workday on the machine gang or at the trolley barn was over, having a couple of beers and swapping mundane stories before heading home. And Art is a guy I'd like to have on my side.

It's a one-way street, of course: I can hear Art's stories, and thump my hand on the bar as I laugh, but he can't hear mine or Adam's. I have confidence that he would like ours, though, every confidence in the world.

Click here for Art's latest clutch of after-work stories. Don't get your expectations up for great literature or side-splitting comedy. Just have a little bowl of peanuts handy to munch on, and think of what you'd offer in riposte.


Ronnie said...

Love Adam's work. Good thing that was "only" an audition tape - does anyone remember Uncle Don?

Sherwood Harrington said...

"That ought to hold the little bastards!"

I'm too young to remember Uncle Don Carney first-hand (or first-ear); I was born in the same year that his show finally went off WOR's air. The first time I heard the story was from the manager of the radio station I announced for when I was in high school, WCHN in upstate NY. He told it as a cautionary tale, emphasizing that his employees should always treat any microphone as though it were on, whether we thought it was or not.

Ronnie said...

Well, I'm glad someone remembered. My question really was: doesn't anyone tell these youngsters any of the cautionary tales anymore? Back in the early days of radio, we had them dinned into our poor little ears. I had even listened to old Don when younger but was no longer emotionally involved when the scandal broke and he absolutely disappeared. The respect for a live mike was firmly ingrained and my mentors had nothing to worry about.

Anonymous said...

Teacher's pet? I guess I'm guilty. Although, these days Adam is more a peer than student. I'm proud of him. But,I'm not through with him yet! This coming year we are going to start him on the road to conquering the voice-over world of LA and beyond. Adam makes the journey fun.

Susan McCollom

Brian Fies said...

I always love meeting the family.

I've told you before: you're a really good writer.

Adam said...

When Doug (for the first time as a voice over artist) and I stepped into the studio I thought to myself "Finally, I get to show big brother a thing or two!"

He nailed it in just a couple takes and (in his uniquely dismissive way) said "this is easy."

I wouldn't have lasted a second in Uncle Don's time.

Susan, there would be no career for Dad to chronicle without your guidance. You're the BEST!!

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

I AM surprised that he didn't get the Celebrity Cruises job. The sincere and enthusiastic way he spoke that ream of godawful blather, all the way to the end, should have impressed them. Final ... um ... comment or no.