Entries Tagged as ''

buffalo, new york and the elmwood avenue festival of the arts

<em>Founders of the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts Joe DiPasquale and his wife, Tanya Zabinski. Photo Credit: Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News</em>

Founders of the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts Joe DiPasquale and his wife, Tanya Zabinski. Photo Credit: Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News

Today, daughter and I took our second trip in as many years to the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts or as we call it, the Elmwood Arts Festival.

It’s in its 10th year and I remember its early years…it has grown significantly and impressively since 1999. Joe DiPasquale and his wife, Tanya Zabinski began the festival with a team of equally dedicated volunteers.

I went to high school with Joe. He was a perfectly nice guy in school but I had no idea he had this kind of gumption within him. This show, with its artisans, music, kids area and food within its seven block reach (a bit over a half mile I would estimate), is family friendly, neighbor friendly and image friendly. It is different in many ways than any other festival the City of Buffalo offers and the City is damn lucky to have it.

Aside from a booth to sell their wares, Joe, his wife and anybody else working on the show make nothing…if they break even, it’s cause for celebration.

<em>Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts</em>

Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts

Call it volunteerism, giving back, paying it forward.

I call it laudable, applaudable and awe-inspiring.

To do an event like this once is swell, to do it for TEN YEARS is incredible and not something Western New York should ever take for granted.

Joe, Tanya and everybody else involved: thanks very much! We deserve none of your selfless generosity but will gladly immerse ourselves in this great spectacle. It runs through Sunday and is usually the last weekend in August every year. Come enjoy it if you can. If you can, you should.

a trick and a conundrum


Some folks may already know this but I didn’t.

If you like, when you open your internet browser, you can have it open to more than one home page at one time at start-up.

Depending on your browser (and I think this trick only works with the VERY latest versions of most popular web browsers), you can usually set your opening home page under “Preferences” or “Options”. Then in the bar where you type in the address of what you would like to have as your home page, you add the trick.

On your computer, in your symbols area (usually found in the drop down window of Word and its heading “Insert”) is a vertical straight line symbol that is not an “l”. I’ll show you here but your computer might not have its own equivalent as mine does; the symbol is | .

So the trick is to put your first favorite home page (as an example, Google) then that | symbol (and I don’t know its proper name , if you do, please share with the class) and then the next web address (as an example, audio’connell Voice Over Talent).

So in your homepage set up bar you would type http://www.google.com | http://www.audioconnell.com . When you hit save, close your browser and open it again, there should be two tabs that open up in that order to the pages you set. I think you can probably do 3-4 of those start up web addresses in your start up.

Now for the conundrum.

I set my tabs recently to open on each of the most popular search engines (as ranked by Hitwise: Google, Yahoo, Bing (the progeny of a recent search merger agreement between MSN and Yahoo although Yahoo.com still exists), and Ask.com. The reason for this arrangement is I’m trying to just randomly check some of my search placements on these sites as a bit of an experiment – the web is my main business pipeline (it’s the store, if you will) so it’s important.

The challenge that I’ve seen recently, always known about and have in common with everyone with cares about SEO and SEM is that there is no consistency in how search engines rank sites in order of importance. 3 search engines, 3 different ranking systems and usually three varying placements depending on key words, links, etc.

As just a user of these search engines, one likely cares not a fig about what comes up, assuming their search contains the most reputable, qualified providers of service/product/information that they’ll need. They check the front page, maybe the second and move on.

As a business trying to get their message out there, it’s a bit of a challenge. The important word in this next sentence is “supposedly”: Google is supposedly more key word based in their search algorithm while Bing is supposedly more links based. Ask.com strikes me as very Google-ish in my algorithmic naiveté and Yahoo is Bing so who the heck is Yahoo and I am the Walrus, koo-koo-ka-chew!

I get that if all the search engines searched the same way, there probably wouldn’t be need for so many; even WITH their various search methodologies, there probably isn’t a need for so many. So I do what most folks do and default to Google. But it still bugs me that I have to be so many things to so many search engines.

This last sentence reads back to me as a bit of a whine. That’s not good.

Unless it puts me at the #1 position for the keyword “whine”, which would be fine especially if I get search points for rhyme; to end this post now I think it’s time.

the result of your input is now on display


So you’ll recall my post a few days ago wherein I posted a poll requesting your opinion about the new design for the blog masthead.

The plan was to widen the blog a bit to better serve some changing media tools featured on the blog. Services like Hulu have wider embedded screens which awkwardly crossed over to some of the right columned content here when it was narrower. Widening the blog will fix that problem and most folks have computers and screens that can accept wider views.

I took all the comments here, on LinkedIn and on Facebook …all of it was exactly the type of feedback I hoped to get from my focus group (don’t you feel cheated that I didn’t feed you or give you a gift like most focus group participants get? Oh yes some do get paid as well).

A different design was crafted (as you can see above) than what was originally posted because of your feedback. Your help, insight and opinions were heard and had a direct impact on the final design. I hope you like it.

Thank you very, very much! And enjoy the extra leg room; your stewardess will be around your first class cabin in a moment to take your drink order.

World-wide Audition Completion Keys Enjoinment


My dear brothers and sisters in voice over,

There comes a time in each person’s life when they need to use their blog to bloviate, purge and otherwise sound-off on urgent pressing matters of state. Today is that day for me and I hope for you too.

And by state I mean the state of voice over auditioning in our world. Too often we are given mixed directions on how to submit auditions by our various talent representatives. From useless cattle call auditions, to slating to file names and so much more, we are forced to suffer the indignities of reading directions and following through.

Suddenly, voice over has become like a real job and this is completely unacceptable. We are sloth-like, we are sleepy, we are….voice talents!

Join my ridiculous crusade to make our lives better and more importantly to make our lives easier when we audition for new voice over jobs.

Sign your name in the comment section of this blog and begin your path to an easier auditioning experience for all!

Thank you!

Dear Voice Over Agents,

On behalf of all voice talents (none of whom know I am writing this letter which will never be mailed) who are pleased to work in partnership with you to deliver sacks of cash to all our front doors, thank you for your efforts on our behalf. It is appreciated!

We would like to address an administrative (thinking of the right word here….challenge, problem, nope…wait) opportunity that we think will help make all our lives (yours and your voice talents) much simpler and certainly more organized.

Following a week long summit of all the world’s voice over talent at a resort in the Poconos, where there were speakers, group meetings, break-out sessions and even a few make-out sessions, the following document was contrived and entitled:

The World-wide Audition Completion Keys Enjoinment (WACKE)

The root of this WACKE idea is to establish universal standards and formatting rules for each and every voice over audition that, once implemented on the professional level (between professional voice talents and professional voice talent agents), will eventually become the standard for every organization requesting voice over auditions from talent (not that we ever get any leads from anyone other than our agents, of course).

Item 1: No More Customized Voice Over Auditions Ever – It was unanimously decided that we as voice talent have either personally produced or paid ridiculously large gobs of money to have produced voice over demos that clearly outline our individual vocal skill sets and that jonesing by a client to hear his/her brand name melodiously uttered by hundreds of voice talents just so the client can ultimately pick his cousin Morty as the voice talent because he/she owes him a favor. This clearly makes customized auditions a fairly antiquated process.

Item 1, Subsection 1: Because we’re all pretty much voice over strumpets, we will agree to do a customized audition…occasionally!

Item 1, Subsection 2: Cattle Call Auditions Terminated – The practice of emailing an audition to every man on an agency roster because the specs include the word “male” (same for female) must immediate cease and desist. Agents are required to know all the voice types on their rosters and request auditions ONLY from the voice types that fairly match the description set forth by the client.

Item 2: Audition Voice Slating: All auditions will require a voice slate identifying the voice talent performing the audition. The current trend where some agents require a slate and some do not needlessly confuses small minded voice talents (which practically describes all of us on our side of the microphone).

Item 2, Subsection 2: It must be universally agreed upon by the agents where to place said slate on the audition’s audio file. Voice talents will not place the slate at the beginning of an audition for some agents and at the end of an audition for others. Front OR back, pick one and ONLY one from this point forward.

Item 2, Subsection 3: The text for every voice over audition voice slate henceforth will be as follows: “For (Agent Name) and (Client Name), this is (Voice Talent Name).” There will be no variations in text as any character names that might be needed can be included in the file name (See Item 3).

Item 3: Audition File Naming: Henceforth, all voice over audition files shall be named thusly: Client Name, Character Name, Agency Name, Voice Talent First Initial_Last Name.

Example: McDonalds, Announcer, All Coast Talent, P_O’CONNELL

Item 4: Audition File Format: The standard file format for all voice over auditions will be MP3 until such time as voice talents reconvene to recognize a new file format industry standard as dictated by advances in audio technology, assuming there are any.

Item 5: Transmission of Audition to Agent: Forthwith all agents will establish one email address for the receipt of all auditions and it will read as follows: auditions@agencydomain.suffix . Please note that any agent using a public email domain currently (like @gmail.com or @yahoo.com) needs to man-up (or woman-up) and get a professional email domain like most grown-up companies. It’s not that expense…even voice talents have them, THAT’S how cheap email domain extensions are! 🙂

Item 5, Subsection 2: Acknowledgment of Receipt of an Audition: Agents will set up an auto-responder that will issue an email back to each voice talent who has submitted an audition to them.

Adopted herein this Twenty-Fifth Day of August in the Year of our Lord two thousand and nine by the undersigned who are silly (and yet hopeful) enough to believe that such specifications could ever be universally agreed to by….anybody!

mr. christi, you make nice web sites*


My one friend in Oregon (primarily because he’s the only Oregonian I know, I think) is a voice talent named Dave Christi. His specialty is performing character voices.

I’m pleased to advise you that Dave has revamped, redesigned and totally cleaned up his site onto a wordpress template.

It looks great and I think you think so too. And if you’re smart and you need some character voices, give Dave a call and tell him I sent you.

* Many of you who have not experienced fine Canadian advertising like I have (Buffalo being right on the border and easily catching Canadian TV signals as far north as Toronto) won’t know that this post’s title was a tweek of a very famous piece of Canadian ad copy revolving around the Canadian division of Nabisco and their cookie division. I mean famous in Canada like “Just Do It”. For a brief story about this great piece of writing, I came across this great synopsis which I also hope you’ll check out.

mike gill: a champion trains champions

<em>Mike Gill, CPT</em>

Mike Gill, CPT

When I knew Mike Gill, he was this scrawny little guy in search of a job in golf. Being the head of regional sales for Arnold Palmer Golf Management at the time (what, you think all I ever did was voice over? How boring would that be?!) I took pity on the little fellow and hired him. But I made him promise me that if I hired him, that he would follow a workout routine that I personally created for him to bulk him up, make him stronger and attractive to the ladies. In other words, I was going to create a younger me.

Today, he is not only an award winning strong man but he is a Certified Professional Trainer. Here is a write-up about Mike’s work and one of his talented students in Monday’s Buffalo News (it was a full page spread in the print edition).*

I couldn’t be more proud…of me!

*Of course, most of that is all crap, you see.

Yes, I hired Mike at APGM and yes he is an award winning strong man and a CPT. But he was always a big, strong guy and I was always not. Mike also turned out to be a great sales person with a keen eye towards marketing. I am proud but of him not me.

But what ever you do, don’t let him park your car.