In other news, Caliban Books and The Big Idea in Pittsburgh are added to the list of shops carrying the book. As a Pittsburgher, and a patron of both stores, this is great news. They have long been supportive of independent writers in the area. The Big Idea is an infoshop with a lot of radical lit, so its really neat to have my book on their shelves. Note: these are first edition copies.
A major thing once the 2nd edition is out is consigning with stores. 6 Gallery Press has their own select stores they consign with, mainly selling the book through small press distro. As an author, I will have to contact stores personally to ask for consignment. I will contact every store I have read at in the past, and those I will be reading at in the coming year. A pain, and there's no guarantee my book will get picked up. But this is how people start. I'm a fan of 80s indie comics like Cerebus and A Distant Soil. Dave Sims and Colleen Doran had to put in similar legwork to get their stuff out there. Handling subscriptions and mailing comic books personally. It paid off.
Or "Now I remember why I bring a glass of water to readings."
So I am recording the audiobook of Jack Daniels. I had the first session last week, at a studio in Mills College in Oakland. The producer set up the microphone, then we did a lot of "can you hear me now?" Either I couldn't hear him through my headphones or he couldn't hear me in the booth, or he could hear me but not through the speakers...set up took a long time. For my part, I sat in a chair, my stories on a podium in front of me, a microphone on a drooping stand literally dangling in front of my face, wearing headphones through which I could hear myself. I will never love the sound of my own voice. Maybe one day I can get Patrick Stewart to do my voiceovers, but for now I think I do a halfway decent job. The fun started early when the producer needed to check "the levels" (don't ask me what that means), and instructed me to do the screaming parts from "Safe Space." We did a few mic checks and I got to reading.
Turn my headphones up
I did a complete read-through of "Safe Space." There were a few flubs which we will have to re-dub. I mostly felt concerned with my mouth that got more parched as the story went on, to the point I feared my dry smacking lips could be heard over the mic. By the end, my throat felt like the Sahara Desert. I also had to rustle some papers while reading. You'll never find a guy who treats paper as gently as I did during that reading, but there was some noise anyway. There has always been a performance aspect to my work, but sitting in a recording studio is an entirely new experience. When I was done, the producer burned me a CD to listen to. The things to listen to were spots where I made mistakes, and the level of difference between highs and lows in my voice. If the parts where I scream like a madman were too high, he'd have to compress it. It turned out fine.
This microphone was damn near in my mouth
Yesterday was more of a rehearsal session, since we had a lot of technical difficulties. It was one of those everything that can go wrong will go wrong things. (Murphy's Law? I dunno.) This time around I read "When ther Law Come," but didn't get all the way through. Doing the different characters takes a lot out of my voice. I am becoming cognizant of how I read in a recording setting, such as breathing through my mouth instead of my nose. The microphone picks up everything. In order to lessen paper rustle, I brought a laptop to read from. I have a plug-in mouse. That little nubbin on top of the mouse that you gently push to scroll up and down sounds THUNDEROUS over the microphone. I recorded about 20 minutes of reading, which the CD didn't pick up, so now I have to start over again next Tuesday. More time to practice.
I can't possibly fathom what all these knobs are for
Recently, I watched Windaria, a masterful 80s anime about war in a fantasy setting. There are steampunk elements, with guns and motorized vehicles, but essentially it's a fantasy. It's also brutally sad. It's all about the misconceptions that lead people to war and how war is terrible and destroys everything. It's about how war affects people, told in a baroque way that animes don't really do anymore.
I liked the movie. A lot. At some point I should do a whole post on it. Here's my problem with it, and a lot of anime. There are two kingdoms. One is Paro, industrial and militarized. The other is Isa: agrarian, situated on a river dam that, if it is opened, will flood the whole city. At the beginning of the movie, the Paro sends an agent to do just that. He is stopped, and the plot goes from there, with various people getting caught up in the conflict. The filmmakers spend a lot of time emphasizing the fact that Isa country is building up for war (poorly, I might add), and the stubborness of its queen in refusing to sue for peace.
My question is: How come animes always do these "give peace a chance" messages in stories where one side is the obvious aggressor. I see it over and over. Nausicaa, Mononoke, Escaflowne, the list goes on. Some industrialized country kills a ton of people, then they go to defend themself, and some girl starts screaming at everybody to "Stop fighting!" Whatever happened to self-defense? In Windaria, Paro literally tried to wipe out Isa at the beginning of the movie. It is made clear that their king will stop at nothing to take Isa, and peace will never be an option.
So Isa was justified in military build-up, just like the people in the Valley of the Wind would have been justified in massacring every Tolmekian soldier who violated their home. Maybe I would understand it better if the stories were more nuanced, but the aggressors in these stories are always marauding, war-loving villains who leave mountains of corpses in their wake. No, don't stop fighting. Protect what is yours. I wonder if this whole mindset is some sort of repudiation of Japan's militarist past. At one point, they were the evil empire spreading sorrow across Asia, and we see where it got them. Is the idea of maintaining peace, even in the face of aggression, some counter-reaction to Japan's war-like past? Food for thought.